QUESTION: Work psychology is not something I have not mastered. I have an acquaintance whom I feel is using me. She promises to give me work but it is not forthcoming. In return, she asks to pick my brain on jobs she is earning money from. Do I cut ties and lose out on future jobs?
You have asked a question relating to a subject in a rapidly changing field of psychology, and it is possible that some readers may not be familiar with the term, work psychology. Briefly, this is the study of the dynamics that take place in the work arena. Not only does the subject seek to understand how people think at work, but it also covers other related fields that might include recruitment and conflict resolution.
The issue you raise is a natural starting point in this discussion because it entails your perception that your interlocutor is not being fair to you. In essence, what you are stating is that you feel exploited in the relationship at the place of work.
The exploitation is taking place as far as you can tell because you are helping them at work, but there is no evidence of reciprocity in the relationship, a fact that is making you unhappy. In this regard, you might be feeling that your colleague is in some ways involved in unfair practices at work. Your question seeks to understand how to resolve this impasse.
For this move, you stand commended because this is the correct thing to do in the event of feeling stressed out at work. Any stress left unresolved whether at home or at the work front is a prescription for disaster as it can lead to stress and depression.
It is for this reason that many experts in the field of psychology always recommend strategies of early conflict resolution. This however is not the only important fact about the subject of workplace psychology.
Experts in this field are also able to help in the identification of those staff members who possess different skills, and such identifications can help an employer deploy the teams under his charge to the greatest benefit.
Additionally, such methods are used to evaluate the employees leading to a better definition of job descriptions, and a better definition of the expectations by both the employer and employee.
In your case, it seems possible that your expectation may not be realistic in the sense that he/she might not have the skills required to do the job that you expect help for.
Before allowing yourself to suffer the stress on whose verge you now seem to be, establish whether this person is refusing to help or is simply unable to do the quality of work that comes to you so naturally. Put differently, it is possible that you are an expert in both your job and his, but he is only knowledgeable in the less skilled area.
That said, however, there is always the possibility that there is an unstated problem between the two of you, arising from other sources.
At the most basic level, you might be, by nature a diligent, hardworking and focused individual whose default work mode is to make sure that work is done and completed on time and to perfection. On the other hand, your colleague who you now complain about is by nature less inclined to work efficiently and has always had trouble in presenting his work on time.
Some years ago, we were asked to advice on a matter like what you are going though in that the employer had noticed that his team seemed to consist of two types of employees.
One seemed able to deliver high quality work on a timely basis while two or three team members seemed distracted all the time. They fooled around at the workplace but somehow and magically were only able to work at the last minute under intense pressure to themselves and the other team members.
During the evaluation of their jobs, it became clear that the two groups were not deployed to do the jobs best suited to their basic skills and personality. As you must have noticed in life, there are people who thrive in orderly offices and can sit in a room working on their computers all day while writing brilliant proposals.
There are others who are so restless and in constant search of stimulation and excitement that their idea of hell is spending all day in the office. Their idea of a perfect job is in sales and marketing anything from secondhand cars to soap.
Indeed, their idea of a good job is one where each day is a different one and comes with new challenges and opportunities daily. In some ways, each of these people cannot do the job of the other. Which one are you?
An expert in work psychology can help reduce the stress at work for all concerned.