The Importance of Friends and Allies

I’m a stenographer. Theoretically, most of the traffic on this blog will be stenographers. Through my time as a freelancer, to my brief time at the grand jury, to my current duties, I quickly learned that no one is an island. It is tempting, even satisfying, to imagine ourselves as islands. Go to work, do the work, go home, and interact with as few people as possible. It’s the HR manager’s dream for people to pretend that work is not intrinsic to and part of our personal lives.

Every day we work with interpreters, lawyers, litigants, judges, support staff, program reps, and presenters. Every day there’s a little something going on that makes us a little less island and a little more continental. Big example: There’s a courthouse where rumor has it the administration wanted court officers to turn the recorders on and off. Many said they would refuse or object to it as out-of-title work, even if offered a little more pay for the extra duty. What does this tell us? Our work with them was impactful enough that they did not want to see stenographers replaced. Our friends and allies, by refusal to comply, can literally save stenographer jobs.

Consequently, we must be willing to act in favor of those we work with. Does a coworker have a cause you agree with? Join it. Does somebody near you seem to be having a bad day? Listen. Little things can add up to big movements and showings of solidarity. Even something as easy as complimenting somebody can be not only a polite thing to do, but also in our own best interest.

Not to get too far into strategic and consequential thinking, that’s probably best left for another post, but imagine two worlds. World 1: For the last 10 years one has went to work and went home, and never once bothered to even greet his or her coworkers. Now the powers that be want to phase out one’s job. One is not in a position to ask for help or even really vent to his or her coworkers because one took on island mentality, was divided from his or her coworkers, and conquered. World 2: One has been engaged with coworkers and an active listener from time to time in the last ten years. One is not a miracle maker, but even solved some others’ problems throughout the years. The powers that be want to eliminate one’s job, but one’s coworkers are all willing to speak out against the job elimination. Truth be told, both worlds could have a bad end, but only World 1 is almost certain to have a bad end. We mustn’t despair if we are not outgoing or gregarious by nature. There are still small ways to show our support for the people around us. And when the time comes, they might just stand up for us too.

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