The business world can be highly competitive, but high levels of competition are not restricted to the workplace! Many years in school staffrooms has taught me that! People vie for the grace of the supervisor, and for the rarely offered and highly sought-after senior positions, or even just to have an area of responsibility over which they can be the boss. It seems to be an egoic requirement almost anwhere that people are at work.
So what does this competitive drive do to workplace relationships? Schools are notorious as places of hot gossip behind closed doors - walk into a staffroom unannounced and you'll soon verify that (again, informed by my school teaching years)! By the way, I'm still a teacher, but I work in a harmonious tuition centre, where there are enough staff to make our Christmas dinners fun with karaoke and dancing, but where staff numbers allow a cohesive group without the divisive clans!
In my opinion, the workplace is merely a transposition of the battleground the students have to face. Teachers need to look professional. Office workers must at least seem to be accepting of those around them at work. But in a highly competitive world, we're still under the grind of battling to survive. Maybe I'm speaking hyperbole here, but our society is a long way from cooperation.
Do you have a workplace where people will help each other out when and if needed? - everybody, that is! not just the favoured few! Where people engage in helpful discussion of the task at hand, the management, the structuring of the workplace without having a vested interest or a position to uphold? If so, I believe you are very fortunate.
What would happen if we did have a culture of cooperative management and strong workplace ethics? I imagine that I would love going to work if every day the people around me were relaxed, enjoying themselves, and being pleasant to each other. If we could plan the day together so that the workload could be managed without a hierarchical system of domination, how refreshing that would be! But I think the main issue at hand here is the idea of accepting everyone around us, of valuing them as equal contributors and as human beings with strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else. Disabilities and disadvantages could melt away in an environment in which people were simply accepted for just being themselves, bringing their own unique contribution to the workplace - which may for us simply be an opportunity for learning!
When we get the chance to be with our workmates in an informal, creative situation, we see the other side of the coin. People can flourish in different situations, and when removed from the customary environment and faced all together in a situation in which people can be vulnerable and where surprising disclosures can happen, relationship limitations can erode. Suddenly the person who's been sitting at the desk in the corner and who I've never really been able to get on with for years can become someone with unexpected qualities in the course of an afternoon workshop.
When we have fun together, and are in the space of open sharing, the workplace transforms with new connections and new ways of looking at each other. Would you like to try playing some games together and see how it works? Real Life Theatre is based in Mt Dandenong in the Yarra Ranges just outside of Melbourne, and we are happy to travel for our longer theatre workshops.
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