Why Feeling Ambivalent About Your Co-Workers Is a Good Thing

By Abraham Riesman and Melissa Dahl

There are the people you love. There are the people you hate. And then there are the people you’re just not sure about. One moment you’re acting like close friends; the next you’re driving each other crazy with subtle insults. This is what psychologists call an ambivalent relationship, though non-psychologists might use the word frenemy. You’re not quite friends, but then you’re not quite not-friends, either. So far, most of the scientific literature concerning frenemies has focused on the frustration and annoyance these relationships bring, but some newer research focusing specifically on ambivalent relationships in the workplace reveals some surprising benefits of having a frenemy at the office.

Related: You Can Spot a Terrible Boss in Your Interview for the Job

Watch the video to find out why. For more insights into workplace psychology, check out last week’s episode on another office standby most people feel similarly ambivalent about — the résumé. And, as always, you can dig through our archives for more animated shorts from Science of Us.

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