A Case for Not KonMari-ing Your Coworkers
It’s the age of #KonMari. We’re no longer holding on to clutter; instead, we’re finding more meaningful ways to use our homes and bring more joy into our lives. I’m personally breathing a sigh of relief as my own mother has chosen to rid her home of old mementos and useless items, only keeping the things that hold a purpose (AKA fewer things I’ll inherit one day). The 2019 culture has embraced the method so much it seems to spill out of homes and into other areas of our lives. Whether Marie Kondo intended for her organization advice to be used in these ways or not, we’re claiming to let go of other things that “don’t bring us joy,” from work to relationships.
It can be a great feeling to set something free that no longer serves a purpose. Landing a new job and leaving a draining role feels refreshing. Dropping a client who demands more from you than what you can deliver may take weight off your shoulders. Even something as simple as achieving inbox-zero can feel empowering in the workplace. When it comes to relationships, the toxic ones definitely don’t belong in our lives. When relationships are beyond repair it’s therapeutic to thank these people for their role in our lives—and then let them go. What if those relationships aren’t actually toxic, but instead require a little more work than we feel we have to put in? Should we let go of every relationship that stops giving us joy?
We do ourselves a disservice when we let go of tough relationships too quickly. By KonMari-ing every difficult person out of our lives, we rid ourselves of the chance to learn and grow in these situations. As someone who values friendship—with more of a “quality over quantity” mindset—I’ve developed a habit of keeping friends for years. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been easy; it’s frustrating when a friend isn’t reciprocating the effort we put in to maintain the relationship.
But then, there are the times when our friends fills in the gaps when we’re not reciprocating. It helps me to remember I’m not perfect either, and there are times when my friends work harder than I do to make plans, or take the time to be a listening ear to me when they might be dealing with their own troubles too. It’s during these times that my friends fill in the gaps in our relationships. In every relationship I have, whether it be with a friend, family member, my boyfriend or a coworker, I understand the need of nurturing it (and sometimes sacrificing a bit).
This mindset has followed me into the workplace as I’ve navigated the early years of my career. It might be my introverted nature, but I often take on the role as the observer and mediator between coworkers. Although I may not be “friends” with everyone, I’m able to maintain a friendly attitude. I’ve chosen to not dismiss the people I don’t agree with, am annoyed with or who maybe don’t even like me. These relationships require much mental effort (and they definitely don’t always “bring me joy”), but by attempting to make them work, I’ve discovered more about myself and my career.
Learning from the successes and failures of our colleagues is almost as important—if not more—than the technical skills we will learn in our jobs. There are many lessons to be taken away from our daily interactions and observations in the workplace. Think about the people you’ve mentally dismissed and why you did it. Were they not serving you? Were they just annoying? And could learning to work with them, in the end, make you a better professional?
Sometimes there are hidden allies in people we’re quick to write off. The person who annoys you because they seem to know everything might actually be someone you can ask to figure out a software for you; the coworker who’s always after your clients might actually be pressured from management and could have insight on what’s going on at the company; the overly-friendly colleague could be just in need of an ally themselves—and you might be surprised what you have in common.
The people who don’t “bring us joy” can also reveal things that are hard, but necessary, to take note of. By understanding the work of our predecessors, we can find out how they were successful and not in their positions, and then pick up where they left off. Tough management can push us until we feel like we might break, but they might just be more confident in our abilities than we are. Of course, there will always be the people who simply don’t like us. They might call attention to the faults we may not like to look at, but they’re also giving us an opportunity to work on them.
Just as Marie Kondo encourages us to gather all of our items together before discarding what is no longer serving a purpose, take note of each person you work with and what your relationship with them is like. Have you been quick to dismiss them from your life? Was it because you felt they did not serve you a purpose, or bring joy into your life? Think again about them, and what you might be able to learn from these relationships.
I’ve learned that the best relationships in life take time—and are a hell of a lot of work.
Morgan is a fourth-generation Floridian and placed her roots in Jax during college. As the BWH intern, she’s assisting in everything from interview processes to social media, event planning, administrative duties and beyond. In her spare time (when she finds it) Morgan enjoys photography, planning her next travel adventure, and is a wannabe foodie.