This blog, written by our co-founder Su, is part of a series where our HWBInspiration team reflect on The 10 Keys to Happier Living. Each Key helps to boost our health and wellbeing. Su, co-founder of HWBInspiration shares her thoughts on the importance of work relationships.
What comes to mind when you think about ‘best friends’? For me, it’s thinking back to school days when I was in the ‘4th Year’ of junior school. I was 11, not quite at senior school and my best friend at the time was Juliet. We would go off in a pair (I wasn’t keen on 3’s) and have ‘our time’ together, playing various games, using our imaginations, sharing stories, talking about what we did the night before, acting out different make believe scenarios and sharing what we were looking forward to next week. As a child of the 70’s (Generation X), quite a lot of our conversations revolved around:
- Who we liked best – The Osmond’s or Jackson 5?
- What we had read in ‘Jackie’ or ‘My Guy’
- What we were allowed to watch on TV – Sweeny, Star Trek, Starsky and Hutch
- What shoes we wanted – platforms or heels
- What lessons we liked – English, PE, history, science (I was never one for maths)
- How were we going to get our homework in on time when it was such a boring task?
- What it would be like in ‘senior school’?
- All the things we would ‘put right’ when we were ‘in charge’
In my formative years, I wasn’t aware of how important it was to have a sense of belonging, to have a network of trusted friends, a set of strong family relationships and people that I could turn to for support when things weren’t going well. If anything, I took it all for granted. I now appreciate how fortunate I was growing up.
As I’ve got older, with more life experience, I am more conscious and aware of how important relationships are to us as human beings in helping us to develop, grow and survive. Don’t get me wrong, I had my fair share of ‘playground’ disagreements and that still continues now, although I managed them better (most of the time). I do notice that during lock down my ‘dark side’ or overplayed strengths need more attention and have a trusted friend who will feedback on that.
Friendships in the World of Work
I enjoy the company of others, I like to connect as it helps me to think, build on ideas and I get a lot of personal satisfaction from spending time with others. And I think I’m generally good at fostering positive relationships.
I have often heard colleagues and peers say ‘I spend more time with my work colleagues than I do with my family and friends’. Which poses an interesting dilemma for all of us. I was ‘schooled’ to believe, like many, that the world of work and the world outside work needed to be kept separate. This poses real dilemma’s as it can sometimes be difficult to maintain those boundaries and, in the past, I found myself crossing this ‘imaginary’ line.
An article by Gallup (2018) explores the issue of work friendships in more depth and discovered that the question, ‘Do you have a best friend at work?’ had the strongest reactions from their clients for number of reasons e.g. an expectation that you leave your non work self at the door, sharing ‘chit chat’ and lunch breaks was detrimental to productivity etc. Interestingly, what they found was that having a ‘best friend at work’ leads to better performance. The data from their database suggested that 2 out of 10 U.S. employees strongly agree that they have a best friend at work. They hypothesis that if that ratio moved to 6 out of 10, organisations could see fewer safety incidents, more engaged customers, more engaged staff and higher profits.
The benefits of a business buddy
Whilst it is important to manage boundaries in the workplace, especially in relation to accountability and performance, how much better for all of us if we opened ourselves up to the legitimacy of friendship at work. I can speak from personal experience. The person I enjoy working with the most, has over the years become not only my best work friend, also one of my very few personal best friends. That doesn’t mean it gets too cosy or that we don’t challenge each other. If anything, it’s the opposite. We can truly:
- Be open and honest,
- Challenge and respect each other’s perspectives,
- Disagree without falling out,
- Appreciate and play to our strengths,
- Hold each other up when the other is struggling,
- Let off steam and not feel judged.
It’s not a walk in the park, we work at it and I’m all the better for my ‘best friend’ at work relationship. You know who you are and THANK YOU!! I’m a better person (mostly).
What’s your experience?
Why We Need Best Friends at Work Mann. A, 2018 https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236213/why-need-best-friends-work.aspx
HWBInspiration co-founders, Su & Claire, are grateful to our Associate HWBI Ninjas for sharing their knowledge, skill and insights.