Seeking support

167 teams of allies took part in this year’s CERN relay race. (Image: CERN)

It can be easy to dwell on negative interactions, for example, if someone criticises or annoys us. We end up absorbing other people’s stress, and negativity becomes far more present in our lives than positivity.

Instead of taking on this negative energy, why not reframe it and make a conscious choice about whom or what we let into our lives. This means choosing allies who can support us intellectually, emotionally or practically.

An ally can be defined as a person, colleague, friend or guide who inspires because…

  • Allies offer intellectual support: Allies can offer expertise and experience to help find a simple solution to a problem. For example, more experienced colleagues can guide newer team members in complicated situations, showing them shortcuts, helping them to avoid traps and warning them of potential dangers.   
  • Allies offer emotional support: Our emotions can be heightened by a difficult situation, leading to feelings of fear, excitement, anxiety, confusion, despondency or discouragement. A confidential debrief with a close colleague, for example, can offer us a different perspective; they see the situation from a healthy distance and can encourage us to think things through.
  • Allies offer practical support: Allies can offer discreet, irreplaceable support, without which we would not be able to complete a task. This could be, for example, a supervisor supporting a team by reframing roles, responsibilities or complex tasks.
  • Allies can also inspire us: Allies can be role models who, with their values and qualities, guide us in our personal development. We can no doubt all think of an inspirational teacher from our childhood who was a hero not for who they were but for what they inspired in us.

When we stop to reflect on our network of allies, we can appreciate how indispensable it is to our efficiency at work. Alliances are formed, strengthened and developed if we nurture them; we can then act with inspiration, with assistance and with support. We can also be an ally ourselves, checking in on colleagues and friends and offering a space in which they can give a more meaningful response than “I’m fine”. 

Take action

Graphic of part 5 of 12-part series

As part of the “Efficiency and caring at work” campaign, the Work Well Feel Well website now offers useful resources that can be downloaded, including an exercise on mapping our professional and private network of allies.

You can build your network of allies via: