Lessons About Navigating the Workplace That I Learned From Watching The "Real Housewives"

The Real Housewives is the best workplace drama on television. As an avid watcher of the show, I have learned a lot about how the housewives navigate their workplace conflict (when they are on the show, they are, after all, at work). It also provides interesting insight into how to avoid and manage conflict when it arises in the workplace.

The "on camera" subtext

Almost every time a housewife says, "I can't believe you did this," the subtext is, "I can't believe you did this ON CAMERA," which is to say, "I can't believe you made this public." If you're having a dispute with a coworker, don't make it public.

Most fights start as bad jokes

If I had a nickel for every time a housewife said, "I was joking," then I would be able to afford the lifestyle depicted on the shows. Someone is always joking, and either the other person takes it poorly or it was a bad joke. If you make a joke at work and someone takes offense, apologize immediately. Standing your ground with "I was joking" is the type of response that creates a ten-episode arc of conflict.

If someone is your friend, treat them that way

At work, it's good to try to get along with everyone because you spend a lot of time there. Life is just easier when you get along with other people. That said, if you become close with a coworker to the point that you become actual friends, treat them that way. You need to do your job, but try not to do it at the expense of your real friend. That means don't throw them under the bus, and definitely don't air their business with your other coworkers just to earn bonus points. The benefits will be short-lived, and you'll be left with a damaged friendship.

There is life outside of work, find it

Vicky Gunvalson, of The Real Housewives of Orange County, loves to tell everyone how much she works. "I work." "I work for a living." "I make the money." "I'm growing my business." For eleven seasons, she has gone on and on about how much she works. What has become apparent is that while Vicky might be successful (she says she is, so there's that), she puts way too much stake in how people see her. It is more important to Vicky to be seen as working constantly than it is to be actually working. We all have one in our office— the person who tells you how late they stayed, even though their work isn't done. It might be annoying but my Housewife inspired advice is let it go. This is all that person has.