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Problems and Pitfalls Inherent in Personal Relationships on the Job

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    Personal relationships have a large influence in performance at work. There is a general shift towards a collaborative approach to work and therefore it is imperative for one to have strong relationships at work if they are going to be effective as members of a work team. There are however negative influences towards the development and maintenance of these relationships. These problems include unhealthy competition, personality differences, and privacy.

    In a cutthroat work environment characterized by pressure to perform and to deliver on targets, working can degenerate into inter and intra departmental pseudo wars as everyone tries to get ahead. Competition for resources, positions, and privileges mar interpersonal relationships. While members need the input of the common pool of resources available in the work environment, competition puts a strain on them as everyone tries to take advantage of them towards their own ends, which eventually adversely affects organizational productivity.

    In any setting with many people, personality differences are a force to reckon with. People tend to approach issues based on their personality type. A particular problem may attract too many options, which may degenerate into paralysis if an effective method for sorting through the options lacks. Some may feel as though their contributions are not valued and others still may feel their options are the best based on subjective thinking due to their personality type.

    The third issue constraining personal relationships on the job is privacy. As Wall (2008) puts it, “Failure to make the distinction between what is personal and what is professional is one of the most common sources of mismanaged conflict in the workplace.” (p.39) It is a delicate balancing act between how much a person’s private life and work life is relevant for group cohesion. It is a challenge to trusting people with personal information since it is usable negatively for malicious purposes such as fuelling the gossip mills.


    1. Wall B. (2008). Working Relationships: Using Motional Intelligence to Enhance Your Effectiveness with Others. California: Davies-black publishing.

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