Imagine you dream of a co-worker steals your idea, tattles on you to the boss for spending too much time on social media, or spreads rumors about you at work. Now imagine the relief you'd feel upon waking up and realizing it was all a dream. However, this relief can quickly turn to confusion or even dread as you ponder what dreams about co-workers mean. Mercifully, dreams are rarely literal, and your dream about Linda from HR swiping your lunch, or Susan from creative sending you flowers, actually doesn't have anything to do with them at all.
"Oddly enough, dreaming of a colleague rarely involves issues at work," the website Dream Interpretation explained. "The focus is more likely to be on traits this person possesses that mean something to you. For example, if this person’s voice is especially loud, whatever he or she is saying to you in the dream is especially significant, and you should pay attention. If this person is someone you feel you can trust, there is some issue in your life involving trust that needs to be resolved." Even sex dreams about co-workers don't mean you actually want to have a tryst with Sam from accounting in the supply closet. Phew!
"The act of intimacy is often more about a psychological union you need or have had with that person," Lauri Loewenberg, professional dream analyst and author of Dream On It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life, told Dawn Papandrea for Monster.com. It could also be about another person entirely and the co-worker is merely a psychological stand in.
While not about co-workers, there is a good example in season one of Sex and the City about the literal content of a dream being a symbol for unexpressed emotional needs. In the episode, Miranda continually dreams that no one wants to play with her in the sandbox. Her therapist helps her discern that she actually feels rejected by her friends IRL.
If you follow this line of reasoning, if you dream that a co-worker is gossiping about you it likely means that you don't trust someone in another area of your life, or you don't trust yourself. It could also mean that you feel guilty for gossiping about someone. Your dream actually has nothing to do with your co-worker. In fact, dreaming is one area of your life that actually is all about you.
"Everybody in your dreams represents a part of you, whether the character is someone known to you or a stranger," Dr. Michael Lennox, author and dream interpreter, explained on his website. When you dream about a particular person, Dr. Lennox suggests naming the first three adjectives that come to mind when you think of that person. For example, one of your co-workers in your dream might be sneaky, bossy, and mysterious. Now, apply those same adjectives to yourself and try to identify where in your life you are acting in that manner.
While it can be a relief to realize that your dreams aren't actually about your co-workers, it can also be distressing to turn the focus on yourself. However, you can also look at it as an opportunity. Your subconscious mind is trying to communicate what your conscious mind can't. The sooner you decode the message in your dream about Tom from sales taking you to a carnival and take steps to address the real-life issue, the sooner the uneasy feelings about seeing your co-workers IRL after you've dreamt about them all night will go away.