Office relationships: The different shoes you have to fill

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In today’s business world your life is bombarded with constant requirements for your time, energy and mind. Balancing all the varied facets that affect your life can prove to be complex, but it is an absolute necessity. Not doing so can mean the difference between a positive or negative outcome. Everyone has different roles to fill at the office, sometimes all at once; whether it’s the boss, the colleague or the subordinate. How you handle these relationships is like slipping into a different pair of shoes. Sometimes a person has to try many different shoes before they find one pair that fits their personality, business style and budget.

The Boss:

The way a boss should relate to their colleagues and subordinates is to treat them with respect and as partners in the business in which they work. Employees perform better if they have a vested interest in the company, are respected, and feel as if they make a difference. Your management style can be that of the authoritarian; but that won’t earn you the loyalty and respect of your subordinates. That’s compliance out of fear! Regardless of your position in your organization, there is always someone above you.    

Motivate your staff to get involved via a model of mutual respect and collaboration, not a, “My shoes are bigger than your shoes” attitude. That’s ego, which is temporary and accomplishes nothing permanent. Learn how to speak to others in a non-condescending manner. Be attentive and ask questions. Thank your colleagues and subordinates regularly, and encourage them to research and explore their own ideas. Make a concerted effort to engage your employees on a regular basis and reward their successes. You never know when someone will get promoted, either above you, or along with you. Be a boss you would want to have.

The Colleague:

Similarly, respect your coworkers – strive to get along, don’t blur too much the line between coworkers and friends. Respect is the key! Have respect for your boss and your coworkers, but also have respect for yourself – champion your work, but don’t be afraid or angered by constructive criticism; use it to make positive changes and improvements. Don’t give into temptation to gossip about your boss, or your coworkers. No one likes the office gossip. Those words will come back to haunt you.

The Subordinate:

Every level of employment is an integral part of that company’s success. Knowing the different personalities and how they function can help you to succeed; set yourself and your organization up for success by recognizing everyone’s individual personality traits and place them in positions where they will thrive. Look for qualities in others that you admire and emulate them. Companies lose millions of dollars a year in employee illnesses or sub-par work, a major setback, likely because many employees feel no allegiance to the team, or feel as if they are not a pivotal cog in the organization. Brainstorm ways that the company can get more participation via inspiration, and move others to work as an integral unit for the betterment of the whole by moving towards wellness. Come up with strategies to motivate and inspire your office by decreasing stress and anxiety. Ask them what they want.

Sometimes a person has to try many different shoes before they find one pair that fits their business style, personality and budget. Everyone moves through these roles in their career, remember what you learned and keep healthy relationships in the office. Step into your perfect pair of shoes by stepping into a better life; a life that you take control and responsibility for.

With a desire to help others heal emotionally, be healthy and realize their full value, Sharon Bennett, BA, BSN, has been a motivational health and wellness consultant for nearly 16 years. She is the author of the Shoe Fetish Series, the International Library of Poetry’s Editor’s Choice Award 2001 winner, a member of the National Speakers Association and the National Association of Professional Women. For more information, visit, call 888-321-9604, or e-mail

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