The Workplace Relationship Spread Managing Relationships With Colleagues At Work
In the first week of the New Year, I was inundated by Tarot reading appointments with the bulk of the questions heavily weighted on career and workplace relationships. Questions range from “Should I look for a new job in the new year?”, “What’s my new boss like?”, “How will my role in this job pan out this year?”
However, the most interesting question I got yesterday was, “What’s the outcome of my working relationship with a colleague in the New Year?” It was interesting to me because my client sought advice from my Tarot cards in a bid to proactively find ways to improve her relationship with her colleague this New Year.
To me, interpersonal relationships between colleagues are hardest to manage. A work environment is often made more challenging by differences in personalities, attitudes, goals and personal agendas amongst colleagues. The relationship dynamics that govern day-to-day interactions may be even more volatile when they are driven by an undercurrent of misperceptions, prejudices and lack of trust and communication.
So I created a spread to help her through her situation and I call this, “The Workplace Relationship Spread”. Please don’t be mistaken. This spread is not suitable for questions with regard to romantic relationships in the workplace. When you use this spread, the intent has to be purely focused on work-related relationships between colleagues.
The Workplace Relationship Spread
1) How was my relationship with my colleague last year?
2) What factors, internal or external, influenced my relationship with him/her last year?
3) How will my relationship with my colleague pan out this year?
4) What factors, internal or external, will influence my relationship with him/her this year?
5) What is he/she thinking about this relationship?
6) What can I do to help foster a better working relationship?
7) What would be the outcome of the relationship throughout the year?
The Spread In Practice
For the purpose of explaining the interpretation of this spread without revealing the real names involved in this spread, my client shall be addressed as Brenda and her colleague shall be addressed as Corinne. For this spread, I used the Morgan Greer deck.
1) How was my relationship with my colleague last year? – Knight of Swords
The Knight of Swords is a manifestation of my client’s colleague, Corinne, who was newly hired into the team last year, to help manage a rather big and complex project. She brought with her a lot of enthusiasm and ambition to get the project off the ground, and not allowing anything or anyone to stand in her way of progress. She’s very assertive about how she wants the project to be run, sometimes to the point of cutting my client, Brenda, out of the whole discussion process. Corinne is so determined to achieve her goals and targets with this project that she had unwittingly trampled on many colleagues along the way, including Brenda, creating a measure of gradually increasing tension between them throughout last year.
2) What factors, internal or external, influenced my relationship with him/her last year? – 4 of Swords Reversed
The 4 of Swords Reversed is an interesting card to pick for this question because I gleaned more than 1 insight with it. When Corinne first joined the team, she was so enthusiastic about the project that she wanted to do everything all at once. She wanted to take on every aspect of the project regardless of whether she had skills and expertise to manage it. She wanted full control of how the project was to be run even when there were multiple interdependencies within the project that required the cross-functional expertise of several team members within the company.
At the same time, the 4 of Swords Reversed is also a reflection of the frustrations everyone in the team felt due to the delays and stagnation of some aspects of that project. The project proved very difficult to get off the ground, and the tension between team members mounted.
3) How will my relationship with my colleague pan out this year? – 7 of Swords Reversed
Both Brenda and Corinne are very strong-headed. This year, their relationship might prove equally challenging as they aren’t prepared to steer the relationship in a new direction. There is a lot of mistrust between them, and they are trying to absolve themselves from responsibility for any negative outcomes that may emerge along the way as they work on that project together. If this state of affairs isn’t arrested, the situation might end up ultimately with exasperation, blame, finger-pointing, and unnecessary politicking.
4) What factors, internal or external, will influence my relationship with him/her this year? – The Moon
Every time I pick the Moon in a reading, it brings out the topic of Carl Jung’s “Shadow Self” which I wrote a blog post about in http://sungoddesstarot.blogspot.sg/2012/10/Samhain-Shadow.html?m=1 . The Moon represents our shadow selves, an aspect of us that we often try to hide in the closet, out of fear of the negative opinions of others perhaps. So between Brenda and Corinne, the Moon represents a murky situation made even murkier by both their attempts to suppress their shadow selves, be it their lack of confidence, their lack of skill sets in certain areas of their work, or their fear of being judged.
With these fears, they will always consciously put up a wall between themselves and not allow the relationship to steer to a better place through mutual understanding, support and opened communication.
5) What is he/she thinking about this relationship? – The Devil
The Devil is a representation of Corinne and her fear in letting go. She is obsessed about controlling the project and she wants to be seen as having the expertise to manage this project just because she was specially hired for it. There are hidden forces of negativity influencing Corinne’s thoughts about the relationship and restricting her from being more openly communicative. Corinne’s shadow self is her lack of confidence and her fear of showing it. She’s not completely sure she can achieve her targets for the project on her own, yet she daren’t ask for help. For one, Corinne thought of Brenda as a team member with an army of support while she hadn’t and that started her off with the project at a disadvantaged position anyway. She thought Brenda’s experience over the years made her arrogant and uncooperative. She felt Brenda wanted to assert her role over the project and claim ownership of it. Corinne feared that by openly sharing too much information about the project with Brenda, the latter might use it to jeopardize Corinne’s position. As the saying goes, “What a web we weave!”
6) What can I do to help foster a better working relationship? – Page of Swords Reversed
When Brenda sought advice from me, she had a genuine desire to make things work this year. I picked the Page of Swords Reversed which advised Brenda to walk the talk on her desire to help with the project, and don’t be too hasty to judge Corinne and her capabilities. Brenda knew she was good at what she did and that she could play an invaluable part in shaping the success of the project. Instead of standing aside as a spectator criticizing everything about the project and everything Corinne did for the project, perhaps Brenda could step up and proactively volunteer to help push the project forward. Yes, she should step up and truly work with Brenda together as a team, leveraging off each other’s strengths.
The card also advised Brenda to not make decisions hastily or not be too curt and say anything offensive without thinking. The relationship is tenuous and required a lot of sensitivity in managing it. Any negative opinions expressed in haste, would be taken wrongly by Corinne.
7) What would be the outcome of the relationship throughout the year when I deploy efforts to help foster a closer working relationship? – 5 of Wands
The 5 of Wands is a reflection of the differences in opinions, attitudes, and approaches to the project that will add to the tension between both parties. They are nothing an opened and honest discussion couldn’t solve. If there is need to lock the both of them in a room to resolve their differences, then perhaps that should be something they should consider doing to move the relationship forward in a more productive manner.
8) Advice – Temperance
Temperance is a great advice equally for Brenda as it is for Corinne. It’s a card advising them to manage each other’s differences with patience and persistence. Brenda needs to aim to bring some harmonious balance back into the relationship with Corinne and ensure that she manages her with a measure of calm and collected disposition. Brenda needs to accept that the work environment now has a new team armed with their own unique expertise and tasked to run a new project. She needs to adapt to that new situation, and find some synergies with the new team, and work together towards delivering the project goals successfully.
It Takes Two Hands To Clap
Like all relationships, interpersonal relationships between colleagues can get quite tricky. Communicating openly and honestly with one another helps the day to day interaction at work, but more importantly, it’s okay to accept that trust takes time and trust needs to be earned. And it’s necessary to give others a chance to earn that trust.
About The Writer:
The writer of this blog post is a marketeer by trade, and a tarot card reader by accident. She was awarded a Certified Professional Tarot Reader qualification from the Tarot Certification Board of America (TCBA) and was recently certified as a numerologist in Singapore. A member of the American Tarot Association (ATA) and the Tarot Association of the British Isles (TABI), she is also a reader for the Free Tarot Network and is a mentor for the ATA. She can be contacted at www.facebook.com/SunGoddessTarot .