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Intimate Working Relationships Published: Sunday, December 12, 1999 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

One of the most important goals in the study of close or intimate working relationships is to gain understanding of the manner in which people react to periodic decline in their involvement within organizational contexts. No close or intimate relationship, no matter how ideal for partners, maintains uniformly high satisfaction; no intimate relationship is without its "ups and downs". Thus, it is important to develop some understanding on how to explain the development of close relationships at work and the manner in which individuals react to periodic deterioration in their relationships to insure long-term satisfaction.

For years our interest has been not on describing the manner in which relationships terminate (neither assuming that most of them eventually split up), but on developing strategies for coping with periodic and reparable declines in quality relationships at work. Our approaches encompass a wider range of reactions to decline, including not only termination, but also a wider range of alternative responses to relationship stress, both destructive and constructive.

There are probably more than ten operational definitions of intimacy at work. For the sake of this article we will say that, it is a process in which we attempt to get close to another person to explore similarities and differences in the way we think, feel, behave, work and approach problems and tasks. Because we spent some much time at work, there is a huge potential for developing emotional intimacy between people. This relates to self-disclosure and other kinds of verbal sharing, as declarations of liking, loving the other and demonstrations of affections. There is no problem of committing oneself to concrete affiliations and partnerships at work as long as they are express within an ethical, healthy and constructive foundation. The rule is a very easy one. If the intimate relationship at work brings health, joy, happiness and stability creating harm to nobody, there is no problem with it. The opposite is also true. The importance of intimacy of relationships at work should be directly proportional to health, well-being and productivity.

Satisfaction with one`s organizational life is strongly correlated to with people overall sense of subjective well being. InPuerto Rico, we have found that among people who are happy at work are very happy in generalů More than any other single element, the unhappy people mention the lack of intimate relationships at work as the key ingredient that makes them happy.

While people in the past were more likely to see no solution to the problems they faced, to have a sense of resignation about their miseries, members of the new generation, both young and old, see some possible guidance and help in talking intimately with other people. Normal, structured and institutionalized policies for dealing with human problems should be complemented with the use of constructive intimate relationships as an arena for working out problems. As evidence shows, women are socioemotional experts while men are more task-oriented. Women express; men repress. But times are changing fastů

There are at least four approaches to intimacy. The life-span developmental models (intimacy is more important at initial and later stages of life); the motivational approach (intimacy as an enduring motive of preference or readiness); the equilibrium model (intimacy as search for some kind of need of equilibrium); and the equity perspective (intimacy as trying to maximize interactions and relationships).

Clearly, there is a market for greater knowledge about intimate working relationships.


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