A Guide to Coworkers

Right now this is just a job. If I advance any higher in this company, then this would be my career. And well, if this were my career I’d have to throw myself in front of a train.” – Jim Halpert, The Office

Whether you face a room full of fourth graders or a boardroom of MBAs, you know what it’s like to hate someone you work with. Day in and day out you have to put up with any number of workplace offences including leaving food to rot in the communal kitchen, talking loudly about personal matters in thinly walled cubicles and the coworker who sucks up to the boss. Worst of all, everyone does stuff differently than the (secretly superior) way that you do it!

Just before you hand in your resignation letter, you might want to think about this: every workplace in the world will have someone who bugs the hell out of you. If you think working by yourself in your basement is the solution, just wait until you realize that it’s you who left the rotting food in the kitchen. So how do you survive and thrive in a world full of people who annoy you?

Law of attraction
“It’s a real shame because studies have shown that more information gets passed through water cooler gossip than through official memos. Which puts me at a disadvantage, because I bring my own water to work.” – Dwight Schrute, The Office

We attract into our space the exact situation we need to clearly understand what is going on in our spirit. So how does this relate to the intern who will only use single IMs to communicate when you need to save all the information they are researching for you? Only you know your emotional reaction to someone who is selfishly stuck in their ways – even if they are only 21! It sounds strange, but it’s not the behavior of others that’s the challenge. It’s your reaction to the behavior of others that causes you discomfort. This isn’t to minimize rudeness or inconsiderate behavior, but to put the emphasis onto someone you have a chance of changing – you.

The classroom
“It’s performance review day, company-wide. Last year my performance review began with Michael asking me what my hopes and dreams were and it ended with him telling me he could bench press 190 pounds. So I really don’t know what to expect.” – Pam Beesly, The Office

Even the intern who leaves the printer fresh out of paper is your instructor. No matter if they are above or below you on the corporate ladder, your coworkers will show you your weaknesses, your strengths and all of your emotional trigger points in between. The key to keeping your job, any job, over a long period of time is calm detachment. There are reasons to get emotional, but none of them have anything to do with the Xerox machine. Try thinking of your workplace as bigger than your individual experience. Everyone around you is part of one organism working together toward a goal.

Embrace diversity
“We can’t overestimate the value of computers. Yes, they are great for playing games and forwarding funny emails, but real business is done on paper.” – Michael Scott, The Office

Yes, everyone does do things differently. What a relief! Our different styles, gifts and efforts all come together each and every day in the workplace. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s a pretty good system. Most workplaces work. Over time, the components that don’t work are pushed out to make room for new ones that so. Therefore the workplace is in constant motion to teach new things to those who inhabit it.

New meaning
“I would rather work for an upturned broom with a bucket for a head than work for somebody else in this office besides myself. Game on.” – Stanley, The Office

If you knew every morning when you woke up you were going to learn something about yourself, would you stay in bed hitting the snooze? Okay, maybe work isn’t always a yoga retreat, but it’s a place for growth everyday and it’s your coworkers who are growing with you.

That receptionist with the annoying voice is also the one with a smile that puts the clients at ease. Everyone forgets to take their food out of the refrigerator now and then, so be kind, detach and fill up the paper tray.

Viva la difference!

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