Help! Navigating Positive Relationships as Women In The Workplace

Being transparent in y our communications and honest about your story--without telling too many private details-- can help you maintain good working relationships. We all know perhaps firsthand about the side effects of working with someone who is a Debbie Downer, but how about the after-effects of working with a person in the office who is always looking for help?As a leader it is your job to be helpful, but it can also be draining, according to new research from Michigan State University.The bottom line is you get depleted and burned out if you feel as if you are always helping someone out with their work problems. Women in the workplace especially tend to be the ones who solve problems and help others with questions.[bctt tweet=“Women in the workplace tend to be the ones who solve problems and help others with questions.”]“Reporting in the Journal of Applied PsychologyRussell Johnson, associate professor of management at Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business, and colleagues say the depletion effects were especially strong for employees with high ‘pro-social motivation’ – or those who care deeply about the welfare of others.”According to the release, “Sixty-eight employees in a variety of industries, including finance, engineering and health care, participated in the study by filling out surveys in the morning and afternoon for 15 consecutive workdays. The surveys measured depletion using a previously established scientific scale and helping through another scale that asks questions such as ‘Today, I went out of my way to help co-workers who asked for my help with work-related problems.’”So, wait, it’s not a good thing to always be a person who helps out co-workers?It is when people are grateful for your time and assistance.“On the bright side, when helpers are thanked or made aware of the positive results of their actions, this can minimize and may even reverse the effects of depletion. Help-seekers can reduce the burden they place on helpers by clearly expressing the positive impact that helping had on them.”Ok, so it’s good and bad that you may be the person everyone seeks out for help or envisions as the one with all the answers. Another mixed bag and possible landmine for your career is to be the one in the office or the company that others confide in. You do not want to be the keeper or teller of secrets, particularly not with the boss.“When it comes to casual conversations with your boss, follow her lead. Not every conversation has to be about work; in fact, you probably don’t want it to be that way. It’s great to be able to talk to your supervisor casually about things other than spreadsheets and client deliverables, but developing a strong rapport means venturing off professional topic too,” writes Lauren Laitin in The Muse.“When those side conversations pop up, let your manager pick the topic—at least initially. Once you’ve established that going off on non-work related tangents is OK from time to time, you can then decide to strike up conversation on the TV show you’re binging or the new restaurant you tried over the weekend,” she says.But do not be one of the women the workplace who has the crazier than thou stories that would shock most people on a daily commuter train. And also do not solicit those kinds of stories from your boss. Remember that your goal is to be seen as a leader, and leaders don’t necessarily exchange Truth Or Dare stories not suitable for family consumption.Need help navigating your social relationship with your boss? We’ve got you. “While nobody expects you to be perfect, the old less-is-more adage works quite well when it comes to being friends with your boss. She evaluates your work, and makes decisions about your compensation, workload, and promotion status. There’s no need to be aloof and pretend like you don’t have a life outside the office, but it’s important to keep the relationship dynamic in mind.” Laitin writes.According to Take The Lead co-founder and president Gloria Feldt, Power Tool No. 9 in 9 Leadership Power Tools To Advance Your Career, reminds us that telling your story is powerful. It enhances your authenticity.Still, not everyone in your professional sphere needs to know every small detail of your personal life. As women in the workplace, being open about your story is different than telling too much. Edit.Keren Levy, COO of Payoneer, tells Laura Dunn of Huffington Post that knowing how to separate the professional from the personal—or to merge them slightly—is key to finding balance.“Balance is too much of a subjective word,” Levy says. “For me it’s about feeling confident in our decision of how we chose to integrate our career into our personal lives. I certainly love what I’m doing and it helps.”So what if your boss doesn’t seem to want a social relationship at all.What if you are in a work environment where there is very little sharing of personal stories with other men and women in the workplace, and your boss in an introvert who does not like to communicate informally?Requesting a one on one meeting can help streamline communication if your boss tends to be introverted. According to Inc., managers and bosses who are introverts do not like a lot of chatting, but they do like details about the work and progress on projects.“Crowds and a lot of interaction drain introverts. Subsequently, introverts want to decide where they direct the energy they have, and they want people to be respectful of their space. Requesting one-on-one meetings ensures that your boss won’t be over-stimulated and can give you their full attention. It also gives them the opportunity to prepare for the communications they know will take some of their internal fuel.”Limit the chatting, communicate by email and stick to the point, advises Tom Popomaronic, interim president of RateMyTeachers.com in Inc. “Most introverts are drawn to details that can aid them in decision making. Interaction can be exhausting for them, however, so stick to the topic and give only relevant information. If your boss pushes you to focus on a specific area or move forward, they’re not disinterested—they’re just preserving their energy.”Still, in communicating as a leader, compassion and empathy are crucial components of a leadership style and a company culture according to Mina Chang, CEO of Linking The World, an NGP that builds communities in areas of conflict and instability. Openness, vulnerability and transparency in productive communication are requirements, she says.Chang writes in Business Collective, “Regardless of the situation, the best leaders position crises as growth catalysts. Further, they’re task-oriented in their communication, leaving no room for misinterpretation. Because team members often have valuable solutions to their leaders’ most challenging problems, their feedback is critical in crisis management. “Chang adds, “Listening allows leaders to hear what’s happening at the ground level from those implementing the steps to alleviate calamities. When entire teams invest wholeheartedly in solutions, loyalty and innovation are established.”