I have explored those first moments of attraction and the maturing of a relationship, but what happens when one of us decides that we can no longer work together? Can we avoid acrimony, bad feeling , and even stay good friends and remain mutually beneficial contacts?
Sadly, the work relationship, as with the personal, is no longer for life. Careers are flexible, individuals have different motivations at different times of their life and companies’ needs change… It does have scary parallels with the personal. How often does the match made in heaven often end in tears, and even acrimony? Do the seemingly best suited couples (seemingly perfect candidate) always end up getting on? Is there a feeling that only by leaving are you truly valued?
Taking who and what we know for granted is very common and at work. So many people are overlooked for promotions because the organizations doesn’t really focus on the rump of people, and there is a fascination that, what we have isn’t good enough. Equally, if you become ‘part of the furniture’ there is a danger of complacency which can lead to a sense of entitlement. In relationships, each partner can very quickly end up settling into roles, not necessarily by choice. At home or in work, how often do we really bother to find out about the others’ interests, talents, aspirations, and understand really how happy the other really is?
On the surface, things look rosy, the dream marriage, new house,(substitute pay rise and possible promotion). But at root has the relationship become…well a bit stale or even boring?
On the surface nothing is wrong, the holidays are still paid for, the bills get paid….but you don’t feel appreciated. Its not that anyone has told you’ve done anything wrong, you just haven’t been recognized. As Oscar Wilde said, “There is only one thing the world worse than being talked about, it is not being talked about”. Often, this is never discussed at work or at home and the consequences, whilst not immediate are often
So the decision to leave or ask someone to leave is, so often a surprise to either affected party. The initial shock, turns to disappointment, sometimes turns to anger and despair. ‘I didn’t know you felt this way! Or what did I do? Are common phrases in both scenarios.’? When the relationship is at this stage, there is really no turning back. Even though in both the personal and work we often stay too long. Taking or giving a counter offer is the marriage equivalent of ‘staying for the sake of the children’……
Trust is almost non existent and flirtation with the ‘enemy’ almost inevitable. Organisations talk about ‘engagement’ – a word which is almost meaningless to most people, but substitute ‘Trust’ and the conversation is transformed. If you can’t trust your boss, team member, or lover then life becomes a form of psychological warfare, with no let up. There is no physical but the mental collateral damage is high in both situations and no party can be the winner.
However, if there is trust, the relationship can be managed whether the answer is staying together or separating; if both parties take responsibility to be open about their motives and feelings, then the path will be easier. Feelings are important here because, we invest a huge amount of emotional capital into our work. Economic theory suggest we act rationally when it comes to work but we are not purely rational beings… We invest much of our emotional lives in work and most of us are defined by it; almost as much as we are by our relationships. Breaking from either, often goes to the heart of who and what we are and makes us reevaluate our status, self worth, our aspirations. Telling someone you have lost your job is as painful or difficult as telling them you have separated from a long term partner.
On the surface, fixing this is simple… However, in work relationships it means organizations being more trusting of their employees and employees taking a more proactive role in expressing themselves. In personal relationships…..who knows?