Some of you may have heard in the news last week about the Nobel Prize winning scientist who got himself in some trouble. It appears that while giving a talk at a conference for women scientists, he made some comments about women being a distraction in the lab basically saying they shouldn’t be there. Obviously the women present and many who have heard his comments since have little appreciation for his opinion.

After reading what the scientist said, much of it seems to be related to the romantic feelings that he has felt toward co-workers or they have felt toward him.

This reminds me of times over the years that I, and others I have worked with, have had romantic feelings towards co-workers, and there certainly were times when those feelings were a distraction from our work. Not that I think this is a reason to segregate people in our work places, but I think it’s important that we recognize the reality that these feelings exist and the likelihood that they may distract us from providing the people we serve with the best services possible.

In an attempt to address this, some organizations have put policies in place because they recognize the distraction or damage to relationships that can occur. We need to understand that our relationships with our co-workers whether they are positive or negative, casual or romantic, have a significant impact on the work that we do.

In The Mandt System, we spend much of our training time focusing on relationships in our work settings. We work to help create safe environments where everyone experiences dignity and respect regardless of our feelings toward each other, where staff work together as a team and follow through with their roles and responsibilities, and where people feel supported and have their needs met. It is when we do these things, that we are the most effective in the work that we do. The trick is learning to do these in the midst of the feelings we have toward each other, amorous or otherwise.

Doug ZehrVogt, Mandt Faculty