Watercooler Associates: Your Family Away from Home

For most people, jobs not only require them to be somewhere at a certain time, have a certain skill set, but also have a knack for getting along with those around them – or at least faking it enough to make the workplace not feel like a war zone; most days. Coworkers are a normal part of almost every job on earth, and they’re just as much a part of people’s lives as family. No really, think about those who work a 40 hour work week. Getting home in the evening at around and having only a few hours with those you’re related to before you pass out, the math checks out (coming from someone who took algebra three times in her life).

Seeing them as much as you do those you’re related to or want to be around, that in many ways makes them like family BUT like families, they come with great and not-so-great aspects. They’re always there for your birthday because it’s some weird, customary thing that jobs throw parties for their employees. I think it’s just to get more cake into the office, and I am not against that one bit. Plus, there is always at least one person at work who is like a grandma – always interested in how you’re doing. On the flip side though, your coworkers can be like those family members you’re friends with on Facebook but have hidden because everything they post makes your skin crawl. That’s the thing though and Jonathan Littman would agree and noted it in I Hate People, “People are what bring us down, make us scream obscenities in our cars, mutter things under our breath in our cubicles, and shout in the elevators when we’re alone.”

While not all the people you work with will leave you homicidal, some may. I don’t even see 99.9% of the people I work with and I often feel like ramming my head into a brick wall after emailing or talking on the phone with them (one, right now it’s one that makes me feel this way). That’s when the great Wendy Williams comes in, and her take on coworkers is one that some may find to be absurd, but she has a point. She feels you should always be cordial with those you work with because we’re humans and need to get along, but she doesn’t think you need to be buddies outside of the workplace. If one is having a baby, you leave them a present on their desk but avoid going to the actual shower. She’s had her show for years now and this past month was the first time she’d ever invited the lady who pumps up her audience to her home. YEARS. That’s because why? Why feel the need to befriend everyone you’ve ever shared a work space with?

On the flip side of that, perhaps you make friends at work because how else would you come to befriend new people as an adult? Growing up we have school, sports and clubs. It gets weirder as we get older to make new companions. For some it may not seem that hard to walk up to someone at a bar, library, Taco Bell, etc. and say, “Hey, I like your shirt. Let’s be friends for life now!” I would freak out if anyone ever did that to me, but that’s because I spend most of the average work day alone.

So coworkers can be seen as family based on just the amount of time you wind up spending with them, and that has good and bad aspects. They can also be your only source of finding new friends, but if you’re mindset is like that of Wendy – you’re there to work and not make lasting friendships and keep them at a distance; a polite distance.

The Highs and Lows of Coworkers

  1. 39% of people have admitted to dating a coworker in their lifetime. Okay, that’s not keeping them at a distance – at all. While 54% in this survey have admitted to having sex with a coworker.
  2. According to Forbes, socializing with those you work with is great for your career.
  3. It doesn’t stop in school, bullies can pop up at work too.
  4. If that’s the case, try some of these tricks to deal with it.
  5. Greater Good states why you should love the people you work with.

Tomorrow a guy who you couldn’t be paid to be mad at tells us his take on those he works with, the day after that I dive deeper into hermit life, Thursday we talk about Jim and Dwight, and the end is – you know the story.


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