Aristotle and Relationship at Work: Outline

Introduction

Aristotle’s works have been perceived to be the framework of most disciplines in modern science. His views on civic relationships have been extensive, considering they highlight different issues such as happiness, virtues, deliberation, justice, friendship (and other related issues).

These aspects of civic relationship form the framework of this study. However, emphasis will be given to the workplace context and more specifically to issues that define a good workplace environment. Aristotle’s ideas on civic relationship will also be contrasted with the notions of the best places to work.

Aristotle and Relationship at Work

Aristotle explains that friendship forms a normative framework for the practice of citizenship but in explaining this fact, he outlines three factors that define human friendship. These factors are hinged on the concepts of “like”, “use” or “pleasant”. Aristotle is of the view that people develop friendships because they like one another, they perceive someone to be useful, or because a partner is pleasant to be around with.

In explaining the concept of “like”, Aristotle explains that people develop friendships based on common likings or love for one thing. In this context, two people can therefore spend time together and do things, which manifest their values. The concepts of “use” and “pleasantry” are explained from the assumption that friendships should be satisfying and must expose a strong sense of goodwill among the parties involved. Relationships built on gaining advantages alone are therefore not sustainable.

In explaining how the concept of virtue is essential in civic relationships, Aristotle’s highlights two factors. First, Aristotle says that virtue can be categorized in two levels. The first level appeals to a part of the human soul that focuses on reason (able to formulate reason) while the second part appeals to the part of the human soul that follows reason.

Focusing on the human intellect, Aristotle explains that the human intellect is categorized into a section that appeals to theoretical reason and a section that appeals to practical reason. Aristotle therefore explains that people have the capability to be ethically virtuous but good moral ethics mainly develop from merging practical wisdom and proper habits.

Close to the understanding of virtues is Aristotle’s view on happiness. Aristotle explains that human happiness stands at the core of our being but by extension, it is a goal in itself. However, Aristotle also explains that the ability to be happy mainly rests within us. Though people have the ability to be happy, Aristotle explains that happiness is mainly a product of our virtues. Virtues are also explained as the middle-point of two extremes, which border on the quest for sensual pleasure and the pressure that comes from harsh asceticism.

Aristotle’s view on deliberation stems from the fact that deliberation is a means to uncover our acts, and a tool for determining our goals. Aristotle equates a good person to be a person who is open to deliberation. Similarly, Aristotle does not shy away from further explaining the concept of deliberation as a product of rational inquiry. From this understanding, Aristotle perceives deliberation to be an important component of fostering good relationships among people because the openness to deliberation produces good people.

Finally, in understanding civic relationships, Aristotle explains the concept of justice as being two-fold. The first component of justice is particular justice while the second component of justice is general justice. General Justice exists in an ideal world where different aspects of universality are practiced.

Particular justice exists where justice is dispensed, depending on the circumstances of the time. Researchers who recommend the inclusion of an educated judge in solving workplace conflicts have cited Aristotle’s works because Aristotle explains that educated judges could correctly implement particular justice. From this understanding, it is correct to say that Aristotle prefers particular justice to general justice. This component of Aristotle’s view on justice is applicable in solving conflicts among colleagues.

Best Places to Work

The best places to work are explained by the quality of employee relationships in the workplace. This statement emphasizes the importance of Aristotle’s views on civic relationships because through his analysis, he exposes the factors that determine the realization of quality relationships. This statement also disputes the common held belief that the best places to work are where successful programs and benefits are realized in the workplace environment.

The best places to work must exhibit characteristics of enjoyment, trust and pride. However, trust is highlighted as the most important component to the realization of “best places to work” environments. Usually, the concept of trust is explained as trusting the employers as opposed to the employees.

The lack of trust in relationships has far-reaching implications because it affects the nature and quality of human relationships. For instance, if an employer is known to cheat his employees, it is only natural that the employees question the truthfulness of any promise the employer makes.

The same example can be flipped to expose how employee distrust may interfere with the employer-employee relationship. Say, an employee has a poor reputation of keeping deadlines; it is very difficult for the employer to trust the employee to deliver urgent reports in time. From this understanding alone, it is correct to conclude that trust works both ways (employer to employee) in the organization.

The concept of enjoyment and pride can be used to explain the motivation behind people’s contribution to the organization. Motivation has been ordinarily cited in human resource literature as vital to employee productivity but at the center of this narration is the importance of enjoyment and pride.

These two concepts are vital in the understanding of employee relationships because it is established that good employee relationships are often realized when employees find pleasure in associating with one another, or being part of a common cause (like working for a common organization/employer).

It is therefore established that it is difficult to provide a good environment for employees to work if the employees do not find pleasure in working for the employer (or if the employees do not enjoy working with one another). In fact, the lack of enjoyment in an organization is cited as a common factor for increased employee turnover. Consequently, there is enough evidence to suggest that employee enjoyment is a primary cause for increased employee retention.

This attribute touches on the social nature of human relationships and by extension; it exposes the agility of improved social relationships in boosting organizational performance. If employees find pleasure through association, the overall workplace morale can be easily improved and equally, it is easy to establish a vibrant environment for increased employee productivity.

It is only through this enjoyment that employees can find pride in associating with one another or with the employer. It is therefore almost impossible to find employees who find pride through association and do not enjoy associating with other people in the workplace. The organizational environment is therefore primarily a product of the quality of employer-employee relationships (or employee-employee relationships) because all other factors in the organization are subject to these two relationships.

Therefore, in evaluating the best environments for work, a careful emphasis should be given to analyze the social relationships existing in the workplace environment. Similarly, it is important to analyze the quality of trust, enjoyment and pride in ascertaining the quality of workplace environments.

Comparison of Aristotle’s Views and the Concept of Best Places to Work

Successful workplaces are where the virtues of trust, pride and enjoyment are effectively realized. These three virtues underlie the framework for successful employee relationships because without them, it is impossible to realize synergy or cohesion in the workplace.

Trust is usually a double-edged sword where people who trust one another are often expected to be trusted back. Much like respect, employees quantify the degree of trust depending on the quality of their relationships not only with themselves but also with the management. The concept of trust mainly emphasizes the concepts of friendship and justice as explained by Aristotle.

Analyzing the concept of friendship, Aristotle explains that mutually satisfying friendships are realized where there is no party that unfairly benefits from another. The concept of goodwill is also highlighted in this analysis where both parties are supposed to express genuine goodwill with one another. Trust is easily manifested in such relationships. However, if such relationships do not exhibit goodwill, there will be distrust among the parties involved.

The same analysis also applies to the concept of justice as explained by Aristotle because Aristotle identifies that particular justice is preferable because it resonates with the varying facts of the moment. The realization of proper justice can therefore only be realized when this justice is realized but most importantly, it is important to highlight that people will only expect good justice when they trust the arbitrator. If they do not trust the judge (for example), they would not believe in justice.

The concept of pride is also identified to be central to the realization of a good workplace environment and almost explicitly, it emphasizes Aristotle’s concept of happiness. Aristotle says that happiness is a goal in its nature (through the realization of this goal, we are essentially happy). However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that happiness is a source of pride. Therefore, when employees are truly happy, they are bound to derive satisfaction in what they do. This satisfaction manifests in pride.

Almost, conjointly, pride and enjoyment go hand-in-hand because employees who find pride in what they do enjoy what they do (as well). Enjoyment is also explained in the context of finding pleasure in working with other people in the office. Again, Aristotle’s remarks on friendship cannot be ignored in this case because he explains that one core pillar of forging good friendships among employees is deriving pleasure in associating with some people.

Conclusion

After weighing the findings of this study, it is correct to say that Aristotle’s remarks outline the important frameworks needed to realize the best workplace environments.

However, Aristotle highlights the importance of establishing productive friendships (by working with other people in the organization) as the main factor needed in establishing a good workplace environment. Comprehensively, we can establish that Aristotle predicts the quality of good workplace relationships by outlining the fundamental principles of productive employee relations.