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Time's Up Part 5: Toxic Colleagues- Building Thriving Relationships at Work

In the previous installments of "Time's Up," we explored the importance of nurturing connections with friends, family, children and partners. Today, we delve into a relationship often overlooked: your co-workers.

Think about it. Between the ages of 20 and 60, the average person spends a whopping 8-9 hours a day at work, often surpassing the time spent with family and friends. This undeniable reality underscores the crucial nature of fostering positive and meaningful relationships with your colleagues. The chart below from the American Time Usage Study (ATUS) assumes you have mixed time at work, some with co-workers and some working on your own. But you can see how your time peaks from 20-60.

Work, ideally, shouldn't just be a paycheck; it should be a place where you feel valued, respected, and energized. This feeling is significantly influenced by the quality of your relationships with co-workers. Did you know the #1 reason people leave their jobs isn't salary, but their boss and colleagues? This highlights the profound impact these relationships have on your fulfillment and happiness at work.

So, who you choose to work with (if you have the luxury of choice) becomes a significant decision. Aim for work environments that foster positive interactions, collaboration, and mutual respect. Choose colleagues who uplift and inspire you, who bring positive energy into your work life. Think about companies known for their strong company culture and positive work environments.

But what if you don't currently have those connections with your co-workers? Here are 5 steps you can take to improve your relationships:

  1. Be the Initiator: Step outside your comfort zone and strike up conversations with your colleagues. Go beyond "good morning" – ask them about their weekends, their interests, or their hobbies.

  2. Become a Master Listener: Show genuine interest in your colleagues by actively listening when they talk. Pay attention, ask thoughtful questions, and avoid interrupting.

  3. Embrace Collaboration: Look for opportunities to work together on projects, even if it's outside your immediate team. Collaboration fosters communication, understanding, and a sense of shared purpose.

  4. Be a Supportive Ally: Offer assistance when you see someone struggling or celebrate their successes, both big and small. A simple "congratulations on that presentation" or "let me know if you need help with that report" can go a long way.

  5. Organize Social Events: Suggest casual lunches, coffee breaks, or even after-work gatherings to encourage informal interaction outside of work tasks. This can help build rapport and create a more positive work environment.

However, if consistent efforts fail and the negativity persists, it's crucial to prioritize your well-being. Here are 5 solutions to consider:

  1. Open Communication: If you feel comfortable, talk to your manager about the situation. Explain the challenges you're facing and explore potential solutions within the workplace.

  2. Seek External Support: Consider talking to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist about your situation. Getting an outside perspective can be helpful in navigating difficult work relationships.

  3. Set Healthy Boundaries: If necessary, establish clear boundaries with colleagues to protect your mental and emotional well-being. This might involve limiting work-related communication outside of work hours or politely declining unnecessary social interactions.

  4. Explore Internal Transfer Opportunities: Look for department or team transfers within your company that might offer a better fit and more positive work relationships. This could be a good option if the negativity is specific to your current team.

  5. Consider a Job Change: If all else fails, don't be afraid to explore new job opportunities in environments that align with your values and offer the potential for positive connections with colleagues. Remember, your well-being matters, and you deserve to work in a place that fosters growth and connection.

Remember, you spend a significant portion of your life at work. Invest in building positive, meaningful relationships with your colleagues. If the environment is detrimental to your well-being, don't be afraid to prioritize yourself and explore solutions that empower you to thrive.

Own the Curve: Take action today! Start a conversation with a colleague you haven't spoken to in a while, or organize a casual lunch with a few co-workers. Small steps create ripples of positive change, and your well-being is worth the effort.

If you are stuck in your relationships with time and connection with others and you'd like to chat more how to maximize this precious resource, I'm here for you. I also find myself in this tricky situation with adult children and missing my time with them. Visit to schedule your first breakthrough session...FREE!

If you are looking for a community to keep you uplifted, inspired and supported as you find and appreciate the wealth in your life, join Joyful Balance Circle. It's a Facebook group with over 800 like-minded women ready to lift you up.

Here are the links to the previous posts in this blog series in case you missed the previous posts:

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