If you're lucky, you have a "work wife." She's that co-worker whose support for you isn't the least bit romantic, but who "gets" you in a way that makes you feel seen and valued. She's your go-to person for a pep talk and breath mint before the big presentation, or a ping away when you've run into a major frustration and need an understanding ear. A great work spouse can keep you in check, grounded, sane -- and caffeinated. (After all, they know your Starbucks order by heart.)
When we spend so much time at our jobs and feel like we need to be "on" to command the respect of our colleagues, it can be helpful to have at least one trusted office relationship in which who you are as a professional doesn't completely eclipse who you are as a person.
Mutual respect, joy in collaboration and working toward shared goals are qualities to strive for in team members, as in life partners. (And for some totally unscientific reason, being on the same wavelength weirdly seems to translate to randomly twinning office attire, right?)
Haven't clicked with your colleagues? "The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace" (the business version of Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White's New York Times best-seller, "The 5 Love Languages") is a popular tool for making the connection between how we feel valued and how we can show our appreciation for co-workers. The advice closely mirrors our "love languages" at home, so if you think your real-life significant other needs a hint, casually leave this business book on the bedside table.
Some people are motivated by the bonus check or break-room bagels, and others are more moved by sticky notes of encouragement or a personal invitation to lunch. Personally, my love language is "acts of service," which my home-husband knows means I'm more delighted by him taking the initiative to detail my messy car than by any gift of jewels. In my work life, that translates to simple kindnesses like volunteering to help me stuff envelopes for the company's United Way Campaign.
This Valentine's week, think about the HR-approved ways to show thanks for the emotional labor that goes into being the office cheerleader/confidante. And although Hallmark always seems to be creating new holidays such as Boss's Day (Oct. 16), Administrative Professionals Day (April 26), Third Cubicle Over Recognition Day (joking!) -- any random day is ripe for building positive workplace relationships.
Brianne Sanchez is community relations manager at Des Moines University, a freelance writer, a wife and a mother. She served as founding co-chair of YNPN Des Moines until June 2015 and on past planning teams for TEDxDes Moines and TEDxDesMoinesWoman. She is a Drake University Master of Public Administration alumna and maintains a personal blog at bsinthemidwest.com.
Connect with Sanchez via email
or telephone at 515-782-2363.