Can supportive co-workers save your life?

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We’ve established that co-workers can be just plain weird. They can even be toxic. If you’ve been lucky, you might have also found that they can be great friends. Can they also save your life? Yes. (They can also kill you, as any quick online search will tell you, but let’s not go there.)

In a 2011 article published in “Health Psychology,” the American Psychological Association finds that some workers benefit from having a “peer support system” from their co-workers. According to the study, this support system is defined by co-workers who help others solve problems and who act friendly to one another. Workers with this system have an increased likelihood of living longer than workers without helpful co-workers.

If you are or know a control freak, you’ll be glad to know that feeling in control can also have the same effect. The study found that men who felt like they were in control and like they had the authority to make decisions exhibited the same benefits of the protective effect.

“[P]eer social support, which could represent how well a participant is socially integrated in his or her employment context, is a potent predictor of the risk of all causes of mortality,” the researchers claim in the full-length article.

What’s interesting to note is that women didn’t exhibit the same effect as men when it came to having perceived control over a situation. The researchers explain that the study focused on workers in blue-collar jobs and women didn’t show the same level of frustration when they didn’t feel in control. Therefore having more control didn’t alter their overall feeling of support.

What have learned?

1. Surround yourself with good people. I’d venture to say that helpful, supportive colleagues make any job more bearable.

2. If you’re the kind of person who likes to be in control, then maybe you should seek out leadership positions. If you don’t like being in control, then don’t make yourself miserable and get a job as a leader. You know your personality better than anyone, so follow your instincts. Not sure if you’re a control freak? Take this quiz.

Do you agree with the study that supportive co-workers can extend your life (or at the very least make life better)? Do you think controlling people can feel better just because they think they have more control, even if they don’t? Let us know.

3 Comments
  1. I’m not sure it will extend your life…but it sure can make your life hell when co-workers freeze you out, won’t speak to you, or just make your life unbearable.

  2. I left a job because of an Office Manager that was a card-carrying Tea Partier and made every Democrat in the office unhappy. Angie – I had a knot in my stomach for 2 weeks from my last job because of the unhappiness that I had there.

  3. Having a supportive co-workers can definitely save your life, they can be your good friends even a family to you. But some of your co-workers are not happy and they can destroy you, when you are in the up they will make a gossip about you that can damage your career. So you need to be careful when choosing a co-worker as your friend.

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