Bloomberg has published a very interesting article on how people treat each other in the workplace. Citing research performed by two scholars at Stanford, Akane Otani writes that we are more likely to return favors done for us by friends than we are to help co-workers. This is logical since most workplaces because people are more calculating about what they do at work. One of the researchers, Jeffrey Pfeffer, recommends that the best way to deal with selfishness at work is to be realistic about it. He says that we need to stop looking for a “mythical Santa Claus” that is going to be nice to us. People act in their own interest, and we need to do the same.
In one sense, I totally agree with this advice. While we might make friends of co-workers, those relationships tend to be separate. If we can get a better job, we leave our co-worker friends behind. On the other hand, bosses and co-workers are often our best teachers and mentors. Throughout my career, I have learned great life lessons at work. Now, I would add this to them: Don’t get upset when a co-worker stabs you in the back to get ahead or plays office politics with your reputation. That’s how most people are, especially when they aren’t our friends.
Huffington Post offers a short, but insightful article by Steve Tobak of Inc. The premise is simple – 9 sentences that could kill your career, which grabs our attention. The real advice is to communicate professionally in an office environment. Don’t discuss topics that can lead to arguments. Don’t gossip. Don’t spread rumors or bad news that has nothing to do with your job. I especially like Tobak’s last point: Don’t put in writing.
Think before you speak, and remember that you’re at work. What you say has consequences, and it can be used against you. Saying the right thing is an important part of career management.