Why can’t we all just get along?

Early in my career, a wise man said to me, “Work would be easy, if it weren’t for the people.”  He was the CEO of our company and I remember thinking how sad and depressing that statement was coming from him. And how the fact that he seemed resigned to this, even somehow comforted by it, was even more depressing. This can’t be true, I thought. We’re grown ups, after all. Professional grown ups. There are much, much bigger issues and challenges to deal with at work than other people. He’s just cynical, I thought.

And then I grew up.

He was right, of course. Work would be so much easier if it weren’t for the people. Let’s face it, most of us are not saving lives for a living, so why does work have to be so emotionally exhausting? I had drinks with a former colleague of mine earlier this week and the conversation we had left me wondering — for the umpteenth time — why do people have to be such tools at work?

G has a pretty big job at a better than average company. He is savvy, ambitious, fun to be around, is amazing at building relationships and has worked his butt of to get to where he is. And while he’s isn’t necessarily the smartest person at his firm, he is one of their top performers. Seriously, I’ve never met anyone who has G’s tenacity and willpower. He’s like the Rudy of financial services.

Of course, I disliked him at first — or more accurately, dismissed him — out of competitiveness and jealousy. But once I was no longer there, and had gotten to know him better, I realized that my feelings had nothing to do with him, and everything to do with me. I resented his success and envied his strengths, while dismissing and devaluing my own. I realized how counter-productive and harmful that had been to my own happiness and success. How much better would it have been if I had taken that negative energy and instead focused it on championing him, or on something else that was positive and productive?

Anyway, over drinks G shared with me that he was dealing with an issue at work. A peer he thought he had a great relationship with had recently begun to undermine him and was gunning for his job. I know this person, and while I’m not surprised, it is a shame that this is happening. Thing is, G and this particular colleague had at one point teamed up politically to push another peer of ours out of the firm. Their relationship grew out of this mutual goal. They succeeded in getting rid of them, G got their job, and everyone lived happily ever after. For a bit. Now it seems as if G’s friend and colleague has decided that G’s new and bigger job should actually be theirs. And now these former allies are plotting on how to get rid of the other. Seems like fun, right?

The worst thing is, G thought they were good friends. They had spent time with each other’s families and seemed to share genuine respect and regard for one another. So he feels betrayed, and a little gullible. He’ll be fine, I have no doubt of that, but it’s a tough situation and I feel for him. On the other hand, G and this person bonded over something kind of nasty, and karma is, after all, a bitch.

So what’s the takeaway here?

These days many of us spend more time with the people we work with than we do with our families. We have our meals together, we travel together, go through coaching and team building exercises together, drunkenly declare “I love you man” to one another after one too many at the holiday party…. and as a result we bond. We become friends and emotionally invested in one another. So why do we spend so much of our time talking shit about and undermining each other? It’s so useless, just like it was in high school. It just makes our day worse and keeps us from the good stuff that is out there. It kills productivity and morale, and it makes us feel like ass about ourselves. Oh, and it always, ALWAYS backfires — one way or another.

There’s gotta be a better way. Don’t you think?

PS: Everything I wrote about in here I have been more than guilty of at some point in my career, and will likely be guilty of again at some point in the future. But I’m gonna try as hell not to be.

Peace and love bitches. xo

Categories: Rants and Raves

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