Are You Naughty or Nice? A Coworkers Perspective

Fall is a time of transition and drawing in. The holidays are around the corner and with them extra focus on family & tradition. It’s a wonderful season. But do we allow it to permeate our workspace? I want to shift the focus from family to your coworkers. We spend so much time with these people, sometimes even more time than we have with our actual families & friends. Every thing in life has a cycle for change and maybe you need a refresher for your work relationships.

So, how are your relationships with your coworkers?

I’ve noticed that if you put two young children in a room together, they don’t notice the color of each others skin, they don’t ask what religion they believe in, they don’t care how much money is in their piggy bank. But when we are all grown up we change, and suddenly these things really matter, or seem like they do and we allow them to create division and discord amongst us.

I am amazed at how much I have in common with the people I work with, we have more in common than we do in difference. We all have the same basic needs, food, water, air, shelter, love and respect. But beyond that we share a love of our profession, a deep compassion for people in grief, and a united desire to serve & support our families.

What can you do to build upon the foundation you have laid with your coworkers regardless of how it stands now? Can you build trust and meaning into your interactions?

Here is a simple approach to look at when you are willing to deepen your relationships.

Tell the Truth – Most of the time this isn’t too much of a struggle but I have found that when it comes to telling the truth in conflict or difficult times, many people would rather not talk at all rather than say something “risky”.

Sometimes we stop communicating with each other because we think others should be able to know what we’re thinking – we expect them to “read our minds”. Has that ever worked for you? It hasn’t for me. If we are ever going to build a true relationship we have to be willing to be fearless and bold. If you had something hanging from you nose would you want your friend to tell you or just let it stay there? Of course none of us want say “Hey you got a green monster climbing out of its cave”. I know that is a silly little example of being honest with someone, yet no matter what the subject matter telling the truth to someone will help build trust and deepen your relationship.

Be Transparent – This goes along with building trust but should be more selective. Transparence is about risk and vulnerability, if you fear risk or transparency you will never grow into a long lasting, meaningful relationship. Think about the people in your life who you know you could tell anything to anytime of the day or night, good, bad or indifferent – they will still be there for you no matter what because you have invested in each other. I’ve been blessed to have several people I work with love me enough to let me be transparent. What a difference that has made in our work culture.

Be Inclusive, Not Exclusive  – The pack mentality of us vs. them is so strange to me. I wonder why some people prefer to form small clicks to purposely isolate others. When you are not open to meeting new people and developing new perspective’s you miss out on opportunities of new growth and different ideas.

A narrow mind is a narrow heart, and an open heart leads to an open mind.

Break Bread – I believe the best way to get to know someone is having a meal with them. When you take time to spend at least one hour out of your day to eat and be open about your life’s journey, you will find how much you have in common with the person across the table from you. I love asking people icebreaker questions like, “Where are you from?” or “Where did you grow up?” That usually seems to be a great starting point to get to know someone.

Go Deeper – We are not meant to stay in the shallow end of the pool, we are designed to go swim in the deep waters of life. If you really want to live a meaningful life you will never find it in social status, or the amount of money you make. You will find the true meaning when you are willing to deepen and strengthen your personal relationships. Ask anyone on their deathbed what they would do differently – if they could go back and redo their life again. The common answer of a dying person is centered around relationships, love, happiness, & friendships. I believe our work place is a great environment to develop our relationships.

How efforts can you make to deepen and strengthen your relationships at work?

 

Neil

About Neil

I was born into a large Irish Catholic family in 1967 as the youngest of seven children. My Grandfathers were best friends & coincidentally, both owners of funeral homes. John Cox (Oakland) had Joseph A. O’Connor (Los Angeles)or “Johnny” as his best man at his wedding. My parents, Joe & Jane O’Connor, met through the friendships of my grandparents. I moved to Laguna Niguel as a child & graduated from Dana Hills High School in 1986. I served in the Navy before finally joining the family business in 1989 and establishing the 4th generation of our family-owned & operated business. In 2000, after the retirement of my father, I became the President & CEO of O’Connor Mortuary. I met my wife, Lisa, in Maui while on a yoga retreat in 2003 and we now have a son - Jesse Joseph O’Connor – the pride & joy of my life. I still actively play Beach Volleyball at Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach and practice Ashtanga Yoga, I’m extremely passionate about these practices, about staying healthy and balanced in my body, mind & soul. As CEO I am privileged to be involved with partners in our community such as Saddleback Hospital, Mission Hospital, Age Well Senior Services, San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce, TIP Trauma Intervention Program, and many others. My driving passion is to provide education, care & support to my family, friends & community. I love helping others when they need it the most.
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  • Anne Collins

    I try to be “Nice”. Naughty should have no residence in the workplace, nor in my world, knowingly. Encouragement, support, being willing to stop and help or direct to the right answers. Being willing to be interrupted and listen to a hurting friend. Doing my own job as well as I can, so it doesn’t cause grief to a co-worker. Telling the truth in love and with no intended malice usually works just fine for me.
    Thanks for an interesting post.
    XOXO
    Anne

    • Hi Anne –

      As you know this has been a journey for all of us to remember that life is short, and lets make the most out of our friendships. I have enjoyed our years together, we have had some great times getting to know each other, in the good time and the bad times. I appreciate your support and friendship.

      • Anne Collins

        And I appreciate yours. Thank you for 17 mostly wonderful years. 🙂

        • Hi Anne –

          17 years WOW! It has been truly a blessing and a pleasure to be your friend! XOXO

  • Neil,
    I find this post really convicting. My relationship tendencies are to go deep with a few people and keep others at an arm’s distance. I like learning about people but find that I often don’t know what kinds of questions to ask and when the awkward silence begins I just can’t wait to get away.
    I want to have more courage with my interactions, courage to not only get to know them but to share myself as well. I think I assume to often that others won’t care about what I think & I close myself off in ways that come across as snobby when really, I just don’t know what to do!
    Thank you so much for writing on this topic, for sharing your wisdom & experience, and for caring so much about how we all get along.

    • H Molly –

      I believe that when we are comfortable getting uncomfortable with our selves many doors will open. Try and not care about what YOU think, and you really won’t care what others think. We all over think at times. I know you have a big heart and you care for others, yet our monkey minds can trick us at time. Go with you heart!

  • Kari Leslie

    Neil,
    Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. Thank you for being a leader that truly leads by example.

    Kari

  • amy

    Neil,
    You are so right about how we spend more time with those at work then we do with our own families. I look at the people here as my second family. I look forward to coming to work each day. I really enjoy the people I work with. Thank you for your leadership and commitment to making the company what it is.
    Amy

    • Hi Amy –

      To some degree we can pick our teammates, yet we can’t always pick our family. We ALL have the pleasure of learning from each other, good, bad or ugly. I love the challenges we present to each other everyday. Lead with passion and compassion and the rest will get done!

  • Lori

    Neil,

    I used to be the person who didn’t want to make waves. “I can’t say anything or they will be mad.” So I would be the one to internalize it and become angry. I have learned that a few minutes of uncomfortable is completely worth restoring relationships.
    Coming from a very small family I definitely view my work friends as family. I have developed relationships here that I know will be meaningful for years to come.
    Great topic!
    Lori

    • Hi Lori –

      Waves can be good if the information is presented in a professional manner. Even though we are passionate people there are very few, if any things that are really worth getting mad at during work. If we all stand on common ground we can come back to the center point of the goal, “to serve each other”. I see you on a daily basis of serving and learning how to become a better co-worker. Keep up the great work you are a true professional!!

  • Shayna Mallik

    Neil,
    How true it is that we spend so much time here in the work place, this is truly my second home and family. The love and compassion everyone has here is amazing and I look forward to coming to work each day. Thank you so mich for all you do and leading by example. 🙂

    • Hi Shayna –

      We can pick our friends, yet we cannot always pick our family or co-workes. That is what makes life so challenging, we all have so many gifts and talents to share with each other. You have the gift of making others feel welcome and included, I enjoy your positive attitude. Please keep shining it makes a difference and goes a long way!

  • But being naughty can be so much fun…
    But you have to be nice first to build that trust and deepen that relationship to get to a point where you are comfortable doing and saying anything. I like your bullet point on transparency “No Risk No Reward” we have to become vulnerable to some degree to be able to allow others in. That is when the true relationship begins when you can open up and not feel judged, just supported. Thanks for reminding us to to be cognizant of our interactions and making the most of them when they are in front of us. Neil, I have appreciated our relationship over the last two decades, It is not always perfect but I know we support and care for each other and we continue to grow. Love ya.

    Chuck

    • Hi Chuck –

      You have been one of the greatest role models for me and the team! You have the ability to make others feel included and welcomed with true sense of friendship. Your calm nonemotional personality helps us stay grounded and focused. I have enjoyed our many hats we wear in our relationship, my favorite hat is our friendship hat, all other hats are secondary to our friendship!

  • Joe

    I like to take the nice approach not the naughty way as I have in the past… I have a great family here and I am blessed everyday I can continue to come here and add to an already strong team and family. The care and concern I have been very fortunate to have experienced here in the past can never be measured in words alone thats why I feel our actions speak louder than words and strive to help anyway I can, also an icebreaker lunch with friends can always be fun. Thank You for your vision.

    Sincerely
    Joe

    • Hi Joe –

      We are one big family like it or not! I have enjoyed our friendship over the years, we are growing old together like a married couple. Remember when you loved to hate me? Love conquers ALL!

  • Jeff

    Neil,

    What I appreciated most in your blog is the charge to “be inclusive, not exclusive”. Among the greatest regrets of my life as I grow older and allegedly wiser, are the opportunities I have missed because I made judgements about others choosing to avoid getting to know people. When I am more open from time to time to dropping my bias’s and actually being open to meet and engage with all kinds of people, I realize how much fun it is to get to know others who’s perspectives, life experience and views are so different from mine. Letting go of fear and being more and more open minded and open in heart.

    The culture that emerges when we grow together as friends and co-workers is so much fun to be a part of. Our ability to serve families well, increases exponentially when we truly care for one another. I say “truly” because we can pretend or hope that it’s true but magical thinking doesn’t work. It takes effort and will to really create the environment that fosters healthy, happy relationships at work and at home.

    Thanks for your writing and commitment to this attention to the value of relationships. I am so thankful our company is being led and directed by you.

    Best regards,

    Jeff

    • Hi Jeff –

      I am blessed to be in your life! You have become one of my best friends over these 23 years! It goes to show you that you can become friends at work and truly care for others! You have been the biggest advocate for healthy relationships in our work home. I recognize this was not an easy process to become the leader and be the most vigilant team member to champion this culture. You have the gift of educating others on the true meaning of relationship building. I am so proud of YOU! You continue to amaze with your passion and love for others. I thank to God that we are friends and teammates.

  • Carrie Bayer

    Neil, thank you so much for this post- I absolutely love it! As you know, my family is far away & I have relied on my work family to get me thru the toughest time of my life. Without the support of the amazing people I work with, I doubt I would be where I am today. I joke about being married to you & the other owners but the truth is, you guys have stood by me in sickness & health, for richer & poorer- you have truly been a blessing to me. As has every member of our team! I couldn’t ask for more- thank you from the bottom of my heart! XOXOX Carrie

  • Hi Carrie –

    I have always wanted a sister wife! I truly have enjoyed seeing you grow as a women, a professional, and as a teammate.
    Your life is so full of greatness, you have so many gifts to give, your are fun loving, compassionate, genuine, hard working, thoughtful and professional. I am proud of how you have learned to become true teammate and friend to the rest of our team. Your leadership is greatly appreciated!

  • Patricia Kolstad

    Neil . .
    This is what I know for sure . . . Learning how to successfully build relationships is a life long journey. Whether it be with a family member, a colleague or teammate, or a new business relationship, it all depends on the very bullet points you have mentioned.

    Tell the truth, but always seek the truth, as well. It’s the same way in business and in life with family, friends and colleagues. Don’t mix your stories – be transparent with everyone – don’t be different with different people. Have integrity and good character. You will always be respected if you do. Always be open to hear others stories. Dig deeper in their lives and show that you really are interested. Don’t leave anyone out. Use discretion when you meet someone that you may come to understand may not be of good character. Use discernment.

    Because of what I have learned on my journey with you and your family, I have become more of what I have always wanted to be: Someone of good character, honest, sincere, supportive and a good listener.

    I love the relationships I have developed over the past 20 years with you. Most of them have become dear, life long friends of mine. I am truly the happiest I have ever been in my life. In my heart of hearts, I would say that I am a very nice person to know . . . but have I ever been naughty. . . of course! In good ways and in bad. But I can say with all sincerity that I have learned from past mistakes and moved in other directions. The great thing about life is that we are always learning to be better, to enjoy each other more, to notice what is around us, to be gentle, kind and supportive to those we love and to those who may be unloving. I want to be the best that I can be, now and forever!

    Thank you for this thought provoking blog, Neil. Well done!

    XOXO
    Pat

  • Hi Pat –

    I have really enjoyed seeing you grow as a women, a professional and a friend! 20 years of sharing life together has been a true blessing. We have walked together through the good, bad and ugly, births, deaths, divorce, additions, heart breaks, joys, sadness, happiness, LAKERS and so much more! “Imagine” as John Lennon said, I would never had dreamed our journey would take us around so many different days. I remember you when you where timid and sub servant, now look at you KID! You have passion that outshine all those past qualities, you have grown into a force of nature. I love you dearly! XOXO