Who’s That Sitting at My Desk?

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Who’s That Sitting at My Desk?

by Jan Yager

Hannacroix Creek © 2004, 245 pages, $29.95 (ISBN 1-889262-94-3).

How to Succeed by Mastering Relationships

The relationships that we develop at work with our co-workers and managers can be as important to our careers and workplace success as what we know. In Who’s That Sitting at My Desk?, sociologist, prolific writer, and management consultant Dr. Jan Yager dissects the social side of the workplace and offers readers valuable insights into the importance of workplace relationships and the ways they can be improved.

Yager refers to the workplace relationships that haven’t developed into full-blown friendships, but are closer than mere acquaintances, as workships. She explains that those sharing a workship share the important and unique bond of work, and might even feel a connection to each other that mere acquaintanceships lack, but workships usually do not extend beyond work or business. Although workships could develop into friendships over time, they can also be potentially harmful. In Who’s That Sitting at My Desk?, Yager explains which workships should be nurtured, how close they should get, and how to avoid negative workships.

The Price of a Faux Pas

Work relationships have the potential to become positive or negative. The negative kind is reflected in the story from which Who’s That Sitting at My Desk? gets its name. Yager offers the firsthand account of a new manager who sat down at another manager’s desk while waiting for her to arrive at a scheduled meeting. When the late manager found an unfamiliar man sitting at her desk, she asked in a loud and harsh tone, “Who’s that sitting at my desk?” Although the new manager quickly moved to another chair, his faux pas “had created an adversary who would attempt to undermine my every move. At one point it got so bad that someone in another department said to me, ‘We don’t know what you did, but for some reason she’s told us not to assist you in any way.’”

Situations such as this one take place in the workplace all the time. To help employees and managers cope with the quirks and personalities of those who work with them, and improve the relationships that can affect their work, attitudes and careers, Yager offers the results of three years of research into the topic. Based on more than 100 interviews and the results of hundreds of surveys from both women and men (but mostly women) at various levels in the workplace, Yager’s research explores the impact that positive or negative actions and relationships have on workplaces and careers.

Throughout Who’s That Sitting at My Desk?, Yager provides deeper insight about the many types of relationships that can develop at work, and offers advice that can be put into action in any environment. For example, her “Ten Principles for Getting Along With Your Workplace Relationships (Workships or Friendships)” include these tips:

• Have mutual respect.

• Share a commitment to the relationship.

• Understand the boundaries to the relationship.

• Keep all confidences, work-related and personal.

• Avoid holding a grudge.

Although many of the words of wisdom that Yager shares might sound like common sense, her accurate summations of problems and their solutions create useful reminders of the dynamics involved in workplace relationships and the ways people can better communicate to reach mutually beneficial outcomes.

Dealing With Conflicts

Other topics Yager tackles include dealing with conflicts, how to end relationships, and even working from home or alone. Issues such as trust and fair fighting are handled with handy lists of rules and approaches that can improve the chances of a successful workship.

A chapter called “Personality Traits You May Find at Work,” describes the general traits that co-workers can exhibit, and compiles the many characteristics of those who fit into her 26 categories, which include The Optimist, The Parent, The Coach, The Benevolent Leader, and even The Hidden Agendaist. By defining those around us according to their needs and goals, Yager provides a guide for creating more effective bonds with those who surround us in the workplace.

Solid advice about how to get along and make friends at work, as well as many relevant quotes and stories from people describing their own experiences with their co-workers, make Who’s That Sitting at My Desk? a useful guidebook to creating more productive work relationships.~

Why We Like This Book

Yager delves into the discussion of workplace relationships with a broad array of thought-provoking insights and real-life tales from people who have much light to shed on the challenging topic of emotional bonds. By digging into the depths of those around us and highlighting the underlying dimensions of the many types of personalities that might be encountered in the workplace, she has compiled a useful resource for those who want to more successfully connect with others at work. ~

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