Strong, healthy relationships are necessary in every part of our lives. Those of us with strong social support have better health outcomes than our lonelier counterparts. We need relationships to thrive.
As nurses, we document relationships and bonding among patients and family members and other supportive people from the moment of birth throughout the continuum of care because relationships are vital to health and well-being.
Healthy relationships are no different in work: We need them. Yet I find it is common for team members to want to compartmentalize their lives: Work is work, and personal life is personal life, and never the twain shall meet.
While I do understand part of the thinking behind this work philosophy, I personally believe it's unhealthy. It makes work difficult, especially when we're working alongside one another and seeing each other more than we do our actual families. It's important to have meaningful relationships at work. It makes a difference in teamwork and in the quality of work-life. Those who continue to compartmentalize are missing out, in my opinion, on rich, meaningful relationships.
If you're uncomfortable with mixing personal and professional lives in the workplace but are willing to give it a try, you can ease into it by simply asking co-workers about themselves, their weekends, or their workdays. You may or may not be surprised how many people avoid such questions like the plague. When you do ask the questions, listen to learn without the intent to reply. You just might find out something new about your colleague or find a common interest.
If you're asked similar questions, respond honestly and openly at a comfortable level of sharing. "Fine," or "Yeah, it was OK," or "I don't really do anything for fun," are sure to end conversations, but conversely, it's not OK to go into your family drama or wild weekend escapade stories during these preliminary moments. That's just as awkward as a dead-end conversation.
Relationships take time to grow; they must be nurtured. Do you have close friends at work, or are you uncomfortable sharing and opening up even a little to those around you? Why or why not?