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When Officemates Are More Than Just People You Work With

Here’s an entry from my Tumblr account that I wanted to share with you guys. I wrote it for my officemates, roughly three weeks after my last day at work.


Our team in Hong Kong, February 2011

14 August 2012, 4:51 PM

Let me start off by saying, unequivocally, that never in my life did I imagine I’d work in sales. EVER.

Back in grade school, I remember sitting quietly at my desk, appearing to be involved in my textbook when I actually had a paperback hidden inside it. Later on in high school, the reason for my silence would be that I’d be sleeping on crossed arms laid on the table. A teacher or two had called me out for that more than once, but I always reasoned that it was better to be asleep than to be participating in the ruckus of the rest of my class. And so the trend continued all the way through college, where it became worse due to the long hours spent working on plates.

Suffice it to say, everyone probably expected me to go into the academic/scientific field.

Two and a half years after I started my job as a  Sales/Interior Designer, I still can’t believe I was able to do what I did. Talking to strangers never appealed to me; in fact, I was always apprehensive about it. You can imagine what a change it was for me to be the one to make the first move and to ease the other person into a conversation.

There were moments when I’d complain to my sister about how a coworker gets on my nerves or about how noisy it was in the office. She’d tell me, “What do you expect, you’re working in sales“.

That got me into thinking, and it all made sense. Of course, there’d be those who are very competitive–the job demands for it, after all. But even as overwhelmingly present those people are, there are also those who shine in silence. Those whom you’ll probably overlook or underestimate, but are actually extremely productive and competent. There are the leaders, who manage to juggle the demands of their clients with the responsibilities of seeing to the team. Then there are the support people, who are sometimes taken for granted but are actually integral to the success of the entire group.

With so many people, there’s bound to be a whole cacophony of voices, and the unavoidable clashing of personalities. Still, from each person, I learned an important lesson that goes beyond targets and sales.

From the “ultimate salespeople”, I learned the value of drive. Their thirst for success is amazing–give them a target, and they’ll blow that away in pursuit of the one they’ve already set for themselves. These people know their limits, and they work like hell to surpass them. 

From the “silent stars”, I learned the value of initiative. Their silence gives them better opportunity to observe and determine things that need working on. Even without anyone asking, they’ll make changes and contribute ideas that’ll make the process a bit more efficient and the presentation all the more convincing. And they won’t even want gushes of praise for it.

From the “leaders”, I learned the value of commitment. After all, it takes commitment to try and strike that balance between salesperson and supervisor. This is translated through both their contributions to the team goals and their attention to the needs of the members. It’s inspiring to witness the passion and love for the job that fuels them.

And from the “support group”, I learned the value of generosity. The very nature of their jobs demands much attention to detail and productivity, and yet they are open to taking on other requests that are made of them. Their generosity with their time and skills is really something to be admired and applauded.

All that being said, I must say the most important lesson I learned is the value of teamwork. It’s not only doing your part, but doing more. It’s filling in where someone is lacking and helping out when someone is overwhelmed. It’s knowing when to reassure and when to challenge. It’s wanting to know your colleague as not just a function but as a person, because you know that personal relationships add more to the strength of the group. It’s going beyond the duties of a coworker, and stepping in as a friend. 

It’s simple to say goodbye to a job that I know isn’t what I’m meant for. It’s not easy, because I’ve gotten used to it and am comfortable with it. But it’s simple in its rightness. What’s hard is saying goodbye to people who I’ve lived with for the majority of my waking moments these past two and a half years — people who have seen me at my worst and have rejoiced with me at my best. Not everyone is blessed to have officemates whom they can also call their friends, and for that, I am truly grateful. 

So instead of saying my goodbyes, I’d like to just say thanks. And I’ll definitely see you around soon.


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