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Playing Favorites in the Office
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A topic I used to have in informal conversations with the people I supervised (35 of them or thereabouts) was the question of favorites in the workplace.

My take on it was that it is human nature to like some people more than others; in fact, once in a while one of these contacts becomes a lifelong friend. It would be unrealistic to admonish a supervisor to feel the same about every employee.

But I would go on to add, it should be impossible for them to tell whom you like best, because you treat each of them in a fair and friendly way in the workplace.

To prove my point, I would ask them right on the spot: can you tell whom I like best in this group? No, not your guess about this person or that. Based on the way I act, can you know who is my favorite? Most of the time they would say no, somewhat astonished to even think that I had a favorite or two.

Once in a while they would guess someone who for me had been difficult to like, to get along with, and with whom I had made an extra effort to build a good working relationship.*

In my opinion, a supervisor should NEVER let it be obvious who is his favorite. If he does, he's not doing his job properly.

*When I was a teacher, I remember one tall redheaded boy. I took an instant dislike to him the minute he walked in the door. From the comments in his cumulative record, I got the impression that all his teachers had disliked him.

I bent over backwards all year to build a positive relationship with him, to provide him the best teaching/learning experience I was capable of, to counteract my own negative feelings.

At the end of the year, he aced the tests and said I was the best teacher he ever had. I was delighted that I had successfully overcome any expression of my antipathy (to the point where I was extra successful) and was glad to see the last of him. He never knew how I really felt.

That's what should be expected from supervisors and managers.

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