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Why you should start giving a crap about your colleagues

Dysfunction 54: What your colleagues aren’t telling you (and you aren’t telling them)

Being human can be hard.

If you are a human, then I’m willing to bet that sometimes you worry or get stressed in the office. You obsess about some things and ignore others. You sometimes arrive at work energetic and ambitious, other times lackadaisical. Some days you smile, others you frown. On occasion you feel the pressure to deliver for others, on other days like no-one else cares. Plus there’s the usual external demands to eat well, exercise, sleep well, feel well.

I’m also willing to be that there’s just so much going on inside your head that sometimes you forget about those on the outside. You get caught up with your own issues and concerns to the point where you are not in tune with the other humans around you.

‘Hang on a minute – I work with other humans?’

Yeah, you actually do. And did you know:

That they also worry about failure (yes, even the boss)…

Failure is often seen as a dirty word in business – yet a whopping 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start a new venture fold within the first 18 months.

The bosses in your business may seem like they are cool, calm and collected pretty much all of the time, but they fear failure just like the rest of us. They have just as much to lose (if not more) if things go tits up. However people who succeed in business are the people who can manage their fear.

Here’s a great quote from Bill Crosby.

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It even has a name – Atychiphobia, and over 37 million Americans have been formally diagnosed with it.

That they don’t always hear what you said…

The Royal National Institute for Deaf people web site states that in the UK 3.7 million people of working age (16-64) have some form of hearing loss. 

In a study about the effects of open plan office noise:

Analyses indicate that the participants remembered fewer words, rated themselves as more tired, and were less motivated with work in high noise compared to low noise. Journal of Environmental Psychology 2011.

So when passing on important information or asking a critical question, take a moment to make sure that you check the other person(s) truly has heard and understood.


That they are also suffering from distraction syndrome…

We are all getting pulled in different directions all the time at work – meetings, conversations, emails, instant messages, the internet…it can be really hard to focus on a single task unless you make a deliberate effort.

They share your desire for more honesty at work…

Integrity is a rare commodity at work nowadays. People make false promises, they do not live up to their words and they regurgitate the same bullsh!t excuses. This leads to distrust and a lack of motivation, whereas:

Honest business practices inspire staff and customers with respect for your mission. Honest business practices build foundations of trust with colleagues, competitors, staff, customers and every other individual and entity. When employers deal honestly with their staff, employees are motivated to drive the business forward. Houston Chronicle 2014.

They also want to be more open and honest…

When you practice honesty at work with your actions and not false promises and false excuses, you will gain the respect of colleagues and managers alike. But as Debbie Robins states:

The challenge is that telling the truth isn’t easy. Psychologically, it demands certain conditions: feeling safe, feeling supported, and being encouraged (then rewarded) to spill the beans. 

They sometimes get the hump too…

The UK based Mental health foundation estimates that:

 nearly three in every ten employees will experience a mental health problem in any one year. However the recent and dramatic rise in Britain’s working hours would suggest this is likely to increase.

This is backed up by a 2013 survey which concluded:

when working long hours more than a quarter of employees feel depressed (27%), one third feel anxious (34%), and more than half feel irritable (58%). 

Woman-work-anxiety (1)

So even if you work in a really small team of just 2 or 3, and go through a patch of long days and late nights at the office, you and / or your colleagues state of mind is going to be impacted.

They want more humour at work (but are probably holding back)…

“Humour, by its nature, tends to have an edge to it, so people typically tone it down at work”

says Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do at Work (Portfolio, 2013).

“It’s hard to do well and easy to do badly. Plus, we all have a tendency to take ourselves way too seriously.”

Michael Kerr, president of Humor at Work, and author of The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses are Laughing all the Way to the Bank (Dec. 2013), says the amount or type of humour you’ll find in any given workplace depends almost entirely on the culture.

“In workplaces that encourage people to be themselves–that are less hierarchical and more innovative–people tend to be more open with their humor,” he says. “Even people who aren’t always comfortable sharing their humor tend to do so in more relaxed environments where the use of humor becomes second nature with everyone’s style.

Then there are workplaces with employees who tone down their humor, often with the desire to be taken more seriously, yet, this can backfire as people who take themselves overly seriously are often, ironically, taken less seriously by the people around them.”

They want to spend less time in meetings too…

bored meeting

Ever heard anyone in your office complain that a meeting was too short? Me either…enough said.


Being a human can be hard, but never more so than when we forget to look around us, become unaware of our colleagues and don’t mentally and physically embrace each other.

You are a human. I am a human. Your colleagues are human too.

We are all connected. We are all in this together. You’re not alone.


NB. If you are not actually a human, but are in fact a cat, that perhaps accidentally opened this blog when stepping on your owners keyboard then 1. welcome to this blog; 2. thanks for dropping by, but’s it’s probably not for you 3. Get off the f*@%ing keyboard.

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