Credit: Jason Weiss Photography for Fredi
In 2006, the legendary movie The Devil Wears Prada was released.
While Anne Hathaway worked her magic to pursue her dreams at a runway magazine, I also noticed the intense environment of her coworkers.
I thought it was insane how catty the women treated each other. Like it was a almost like a game: who could out-gripe each other?
"No one is obliged to treat you kindly; even if they are your co-workers."
Maybe it was my naïve self, who was so shocked to see coworkers acting like enemies. But it wasn’t until I turned 15 and had my first “working” job I realized the movie wasn’t far off reality.
Now, a family-owned restaurant isn’t exactly Vogue. But, I still experienced my first taste of “office politics” working there. People were foul and unkind to me—for no reason.
This is where I learned this first hard lesson about work -life: No one is obliged to treat you kindly; even if they are your co-workers. However, I also instilled this follow-up lesson: Always be kind to everyone. Period.
Fast-forward a couple years; I assumed office-like environments would cease this kind of Mean Girl/Mean Boy behavior. Unfortunately, this was not the case. What was revealed in the office setting was that competitiveness thrived. In such a way that just by being a newbie to a team can feel like you are inconveniencing the veterans.
Some organizations view competition as an efficient way to maximize production, but at what cost? A little healthy competition can act as fuel to help you achieve, but over-competitiveness can just result in foul and hurtful behavior.
In my opinion, avoiding office rivalries is the better play.
"Always be kind to everyone. Period."
But let’s face it: we are human and we crave validation, so when your co-workers give you the cold shoulder, it doesn’t feel good.
Mean coworkers are not a reflection of you.
As much as you are eager to be cordial with everyone, unfortunately not every may share this motive. It might feel discouraging, but their actions are not a reflection of you.
Some people take time to warm up. And some people don’t realize that they are coming off a certain way. Ultimately, this doesn’t mean it’s your fault. Keep being positive and welcoming and perhaps they will follow your lead.
Be the bigger person.
It’s up to you how you choose to act within the office. Will you try to build bonds with your fellow coworkers? Will you be genuine and put your authentic self forward? Or will you let someone else’s actions affect how you act?
If you put your best foot forward from day one, others are naturally inclined to like and put trust in you. And of course, if you continue to build your reputation off of kindness, others will appreciate your kind-hearted spirit…even if they don’t say it out loud.
Because at the end of the day, most of us spend a lot of our lives in the “Work-Place” and its important to understand, your co-workers are NOT and should NOT be your enemies. You are there to build each other up. You are there to congratulate the successes and offer a hand during the lows.
And, most importantly, you will never regret treating others with kindness.