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Nasty or nice: What kind of work colleague do you want to be?

Work is a wonderful thing. Where else do we get the opportunity to say nasty things about others and get paid for it?

Work, like families, involves us being thrown together to get along with people who we might never choose to be with. Add in the expectation of certain standards of performance and the competitive realities of promotions, and you have fertile ground to sprout jibes, sledges, insults, defamations, gossip, and crass insensitivity.

Why do we say nasty things to others? There must clearly be some reward for being nasty otherwise, we wouldn’t do it.

For a start, it often seems easier to be nasty than to be nice to others. To be nice one has to give the other the benefit of the doubt or to focus narrowly on their positive qualities. It can be a lot of effort. Especially when it means ignoring a raft of uncharitable observations that come too readily to mind. Much easier to give in to the lowly view.

Of course, sometimes it is necessary to be critical of a colleague, but criticism, when provided properly, is ultimately valuable to the receiver. This does not stop the insecure perceiving any form of criticism as abuse, nor does it stop the abusive from attacking others under the veil of feedback.

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