If I Knew Then: Relationships at Work

On Grey’s Anatomy, Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) once said, “… you’re just a bunch of people I worked with, and I can find that anywhere,” to one of her colleagues (who was also supposedly her friend). It was a heartbreakingly cold and rather cruel statement. Didn’t we watch them support one another through trials and tribulations? Weren’t they “family” (since most came from broken homes)?

Little did I know she was just stating the harsh truth/reality.

If only I knew then…

Not your enemy
We all want to advance to the top of our chosen careers. Beginning from the application process to the actual hiring, it is one stiff competition after another to get and keep our job. However, it is important not to feel any animosity towards colleagues. Nothing is worse than a sour working relationship or a tense and awkward working environment. It is not good for company morale or productivity. There will always be office politics and rivalries. However, it is important for your mental well-being to stay neutral and try not to partake (or initiate) such activities.

Not your family
A typical work week is 40 hours. For some, they see their colleagues more than their own family members and friends. In fact, some people regard their colleagues as their “work family”. Friendships at work are a must – they make your job much easier and more enjoyable. However, don’t mistaken these relationships as “replacement” for your “real” family/friends. Unlike your “real” family and friends, most of them won’t be there for you whenever and wherever. You guys see each other, chat, and help one another out at work (or happy hour). Once your shift is over or on days off? Probably not any contact.

Office relationships
Management often frowns upon dating in the workplace. The reason why romantic relationships at work is discouraged is because of the potential for the messiness that can ensue from a break-up. If the break-up is not “clean”, it is very hard to be around someone you used to date, let alone trying to be productive and work with them. Furthermore, it makes others uncomfortable. Even without a break-up, having a romantic tie with a colleague can sometimes be awkward (for example, if you disagree with his/her ideas or disapprove of his/her work) and impede workflow. Nevertheless, dating at work can sometimes be hard to avoid since you see these people for a good chunk of the week. If you do embark on dating from work, try to find someone from a different department (to decrease the chance of you two ever having to work together). However, you never know when/where “love” will hit you, so if you happen to fall for the colleague next door (or boss?), remember to maintain open communication and try your best to clearly separate work from your personal lives/issues.

We Say
Don’t emotionally over invest into your colleagues and bosses. At the end of the day, the main tie of your interactions is the job. Unless there are significant roots beyond the workplace, don’t expect anything more than a superficial relationship. When it comes to work, it is always best to separate your personal life from your professional life.

Do not marry your work either. If you fall ill from over exhaustion, the company can always replace you. But, your family only has you.



  1. That Grey’s Anatomy scene is so gut-wrenching. :(

    I recently faced the bitter cold truth that people at/from work are mostly just that… Even though I “know” this now, it is still hurtful sometimes.


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