Could Your Co-worker Eventually Be Your New Best Friend?
As adults, our number one way for making friends is through our jobs. And yet, it’s those friendships that scare us the most as the stakes can feel so high should something go awry.
Despite our hesitation though, abundant research shows us how important it is for us to have friends, even a best friend, at work. The more connected we feel to the people we interact with on a regular basis, the healthier we are, the happier we feel, and the more we report loving our jobs. And it’s good for our employers, too. Gallup reports that “the best employees are those who have a best friend at work” as we end up being more productive and creative, and less likely to quit or call in sick.
Furthermore, the truth is that not only will we be less happy at our jobs if we feel lonely there, but that lack of belonging is also then correlated to us being lonelier outside of our jobs, too. I just wrote the book The Business of Friendship: Making the Most of Our Relationship Where We Spend Most of Our Time where we repeatedly saw that not only was it nearly impossible to make up our social needs in our “off-hours” but that the lonelier we were at work, the less energy we even had to even try.
So if combining our work and our social life–the two most important areas of well-being—together leads to greater success and happiness, then the question we need to ask is how do we know which of our co-workers might eventually be our new BFF?
Here’s What to Look For in a BFF
The answer is whichever ones with whom we have the best likelihood of practicing the 3 Relationship Requirements: Consistency, Vulnerability, and Positivity.
Here are just a few questions we can ask ourselves when getting to know our co-workers so we can begin to see who we might be gravitating toward and evaluate whether it has the potential to be healthy.
A relationship can only be produced when time together is repeated frequently enough through shared experiences and reliable interactions. (This is why our workplaces produce more friendships as it can facilitate consistency without us having to initiate.)
- Does my workweek automatically lend itself to us interacting?
- When we interact, does she seem to be present and give me their attention?
- Do they appear to be consistent in how she shows up and responds to things?
- Does they follow-through on what they commit to?
- Do they ever initiate conversation with me?
As we spend time together, we slowly get to know each other better by each of us sharing more and listening more.
- In our interactions, does she seem open to sharing pieces of herself, as opposed to always putting on a front or feeling closed-off?
- Has she expressed curiosity with me, asking any questions or leaning in when I’m talking?
- Does she listen well in a way that leaves me feeling like she’s interested in what I’m sharing?
- Has she proven trust-worthy by not gossiping about others or sharing what’s not hers to share?
- Have we experienced some resonance when we’re sharing—a sense of “me too” or the feeling like we understand each other?
More positive emotions than negative emotions are necessary in every healthy relationship. They ensure that we enjoy each other and feel accepted by one another.
- Do they smile easily or exude warmth?
- Does he or she give compliments, express gratitude, or cheer for others?
- Do we seem to both enjoy our interactions together?
- In appropriate situations, does she or he reflect empathy?
- Do I find myself gravitating to want to be around them?
A best friend isn’t someone we discover as much as it’s a relationship that we eventually develop into something that leaves us both feeling seen (the outcome of Vulnerability) in a safe (the outcome of Consistency) and satisfying (the outcome of Positivity) way. The more we practice these three drivers of relationship with someone, the closer we’ll feel to them.
This guest post was authored by Shasta Nelson
Shasta Nelson, a friendship expert, is a leading voice on loneliness and creating healthy relationships. Whether she’s speaking at conferences or on TEDx stages, giving media interviews to outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, or appearing as a guest on The Harvard Business Review podcast or The Steve Harvey Show, she is constantly teaching all of us how to create healthier and more fulfilling relationships in our lives. Her research and wisdom can also be found in her 3 books, including her newest one published by HarperCollins Leadership in August 2020: The Business of Friendship: Making the Most of the Relationships Where We Spend Most of Our Time which teaches us why we need to foster better relationships in our jobs. For more information, www.TheBusinessofFriendship.com.