Two employees in casual discussion at work

Navigating Favoritism at Work: A Balancing Act

Working Relationships
Written by Carol Bowser

In the delicate web of workplace dynamics, one question often sparks debates and reflections: Do you play favorites at work?

It’s a loaded question that draws responses ranging from outright denial to hesitant admissions. The truth is, we all have our preferences, whether we’re willing to admit them or not. So, let’s delve into the world of favorites, favoritism at work, and the fine line that separates them.

It’s Common to Find Compatibility with Some People Over Others
Now, you might find yourself asserting that you absolutely do not play favorites. Yet, deep down, there are certain colleagues who resonate with you more than others. Those whose work styles are similar to yours, whose values reflect your own, and with whom you share a common “connection”. It’s not about playing favorites. It’s about acknowledging the compatibility that exists between certain individuals, making teamwork a smoother sail.

But wait, what about those individuals who feel left out, who believe they’re on the outskirts of your professional world? I invite you to consider whether this perceived exclusion might stem from the compatibility shared by some coworkers. Maybe there’s an effortless communication style between them that unintentionally creates a sense of exclusion for others. It’s a perspective shift that encourages understanding before pointing fingers.

A Reality Check on Favoritism
Then comes the thorny territory of favoritism – favoritism that’s visible in the eyes of your colleagues. Here’s a reality check: people notice.

Whether it’s the coffee breaks you take with certain team members or the subtle cues indicating whom you prioritize, your actions are under scrutiny. In this digital age, where virtual interactions are the norm, the dynamics remain the same. People sense where you channel your time and attention, and sometimes, it sparks perceptions of favoritism.

Here’s What You Can Do
So, what’s the solution? I offer a two-fold approach. Self-awareness takes precedence. Acknowledge those individuals with whom you share more compatibility. Instead of hiding behind the façade of impartiality, embrace the fact that certain work relationships are more harmonious. Discuss your supervisory style, what you appreciate, and how you can collaborate better with your team. Make it a dialogue that empowers both parties to bridge the compatibility gap.

It doesn’t end there. You need to become keen observers. Just as others are noticing your interactions, pay attention to your own actions.

  • – Who dominates your meeting discussions?
  • – Whose ideas resonate more deeply with you?
  • – Are you inadvertently allowing favoritism to seep into your decision-making process?

By assessing your own behaviors, you gain a clearer perspective on the dynamics you’re cultivating.

Communication, Commitment and Inclusion
It’s a delicate balancing act – one that requires introspection, communication, and a commitment to fostering an inclusive environment. Acknowledging the existence of favorite relationships without shying away from them is a sign of emotional intelligence, not a declaration of bias. Similarly, embracing the fact that people are perceptive creatures who notice your actions can motivate you to strive for more balanced interactions.

This is a reminder that the way we navigate favorites and favoritism can transform our workplace landscape. It’s about cultivating relationships while being conscious of the ripple effects they create. So, the next time someone asks, “Do you play favorites at work?” you can confidently say that you’re orchestrating a symphony of diverse connections, harmonizing differences, and steering clear of the pitfalls of favoritism!