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Closer than the average co-worker.

The company picnic. The office Christmas party. Those functions are more than just the company's way of thanking employees for their hard work. They're also designed to increase the level of intimacy between co-workers, so everyone can work even better together.

"Workplace intimacy shouldn't be confused with sexuality," cautions B.J. Walker, director of community operations for the Illinois Department of Human Services in both Chicago and Springfield. Walker defines intimacy as genuine caring; being concerned about and considerate con·sid·er·ate  
1. Having or marked by regard for the needs or feelings of others. See Synonyms at thoughtful.

2. Characterized by careful thought; deliberate.
 of fellow team members, as the team works together to accomplish a common goal.

"Intimacy between co-workers and colleagues begins with a firm commitment to get to know the people behind the mask of their job, title, role or function," says Walker. "Getting behind the mask requires moving past the facade of formality and corporate behavior."

True, a professional environment requires that there be a clear understanding of personal boundaries. But in today's work culture of consensus management and group projects, it's almost impossible to meet high expectations without sharing common goals and values with the person in the trenches next to you helping you get the job done.

Walker disagrees with critics who suggest that intimacy diminishes professionalism and, thus, efficiency. She contends that some measure of camaraderie ca·ma·ra·der·ie  
Goodwill and lighthearted rapport between or among friends; comradeship.

[French, from camarade, comrade, from Old French, roommate; see comrade.
 is an integral component of organizational effectiveness Organizational effectiveness is the concept of how effective an organization is in achieving the outcomes the organization intends to produce. The idea of organizational effectiveness is especially important for non-profit organizations as most people who donate money to non-profit . After all, "we all work better with people we know," she maintains.

The following steps help create camaraderie in the workplace:

* Build trust. Trust is a crucial component in creating intimate work relationships, and building it requires the efforts of all team members. Members must make a commitment to an unchanging un·chang·ing  
Remaining the same; showing or undergoing no change: unchanging weather patterns; unchanging friendliness.
 belief system that places a common cause or standard ahead of individual agendas or gains. The team must also work to eliminate any opportunities in which a member's best interest takes precedence over the common cause.

* Express your true self. Honest and forthright forth·right  
1. Direct and without evasion; straightforward: a forthright appraisal; forthright criticism.

2. Archaic Proceeding straight ahead.

 communication must be practiced among all team members. Hidden agendas, withheld information and manipulated discussions hinder intimacy by undermining team efforts. Expressing yourself involves exposing what you know, believe, feel and intend to do--there are no secrets. Discourage members from trying to be politically correct politically correct Politically sensitive adjective Referring to language reflecting awareness and sensitivity to another person's physical, mental, cultural, or other disadvantages or deviations from a norm; a person is not mentally retarded, but . Instead, have them concentrate on being polite and courteous. Encourage them to care enough to select words that accurately reflect how they feel and the message they want conveyed.

* Take it slowly. Camaraderie isn't instantaneous; it takes time. While intimacy offers heightened team spirit, group cohesiveness and unity, it also increases individual vulnerability. Expect hesitancy hes·i·tan·cy
An involuntary delay or inability in starting the urinary stream.
, doubt, resistance and even hostility--they're the usual reactions and feelings that accompany change. But keep movement steady by setting a pace that every member understands they must follow for the good of the team.

* Keep your eyes open. Don't fall blindly in love; acknowledge that there will be problems. Watch for any abuse of the rules by members who only want information for gain. Keep your eyes open so you can recognize when something is wrong. And when something goes wrong--address it.

* Be willing to "kiss and make up." Managing conflict effectively is essential to creating and maintaining camaraderie. Every relationship has occasional disagreements and/or conflicting views and opinions. Help team members resist the urge to perceive opposing views as personal affronts. Reiterate re·it·er·ate  
tr.v. re·it·er·at·ed, re·it·er·at·ing, re·it·er·ates
To say or do again or repeatedly. See Synonyms at repeat.

 the fact that agreement isn't necessary for understanding, and that "agreeing to disagree" doesn't have to hinder team efforts.

To help you establish proper intimate relationships An intimate relationship is a particularly close interpersonal relationship. It is a relationship in which the participants know or trust one another very well or are confidants of one another, or a relationship in which there is physical or emotional intimacy.  in the office, read:

* Beyond the Magic Circle: The Role of Intimacy in Business by Brian R. Smith (Fainshaw Press, $12.50)

* Cultivating Common Ground: Releasing the Power of Relationships at Work by Daniel S Daniel, book of the Bible
Daniel, book of the Bible. It combines "court" tales, perhaps originating from the 6th cent. B.C., and a series of apocalyptic visions arising from the time of the Maccabean emergency (167–164 B.C.
. Hanson (Butterworth-Heinemann, $17.95)

* Sexual Harassment sexual harassment, in law, verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature, aimed at a particular person or group of people, especially in the workplace or in academic or other institutional settings, that is actionable, as in tort or under equal-opportunity statutes.  on the Job: What It Is & How to Stop It by William Petrocelli and Barbara Kate Repa (Nolo Press, $18.95)
COPYRIGHT 1999 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:workplace intimacy can enhance job satisfaction
Author:Reed, Marcia A.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 1999
Previous Article:BURNOUT BLUES.
Next Article:The world sees his colorful work every day.

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