“How To” Suggestions for Friendships at Work from Andi

There are so many different types of relationships in the workplace, especially when you are a teacher.  You form relationships with your students, their parents, and the other teachers.  It is a constant balancing act of creating strong relationships while setting boundaries.  Teachers are constantly under a microscope, and are held to high standards as they are role models to their students.  There is not a lot of room for error when setting relationship boundaries in the workplace.

I have found, however, that teachers are sometimes worse then their students when it comes to creating cliques, social hierarchies, and bullying.  With so much “middle school drama” (literally) it is challenging not to get caught up in the gossip and unhealthy relationships at work.  This challenge is heightened when their is a scandal or catalyst to add fuel to the drama fire.  The best thing to do is to “avert your gaze” similar to the techniques discussed on the WHYY segment titled “Friendships at Work.”

I have found that it is best to be positive and nice to everyone at work, allow them to vent their frustrations to you, but not get caught up in the drama or add fuel to any fires. Similar to Peter Bregman’s attitude toward friendships in the workplace: don’t fight their negativity- understand them and then help them create space to be positive rather than fight negativity with positivity and make them more negative because they are not being heard.

This is sometimes easier said than done.  As discussed in the segment on WHYY, emotional contagions like gossip and negative attitudes can be contagious. There is currently an issue at the school where I teach that has consumed most teachers thoughts, attitudes, and conversations at work.  With all of the negativity and frustration it is hard not to feel the same way.  It has caused such a dynamic and relationship change in the school that the environment is completely different then how it was two years ago.  In extreme cases like this, it is so hard to avert your gaze, because the negativity and emotional contagions have permeated throughout the school.  Calm, pleasant serenity until the storm blows over then becomes the best approach.

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