I had the opportunity to be on the Book Launch Team for the newest book by Shasta Nelson, titled The Business of Friendship.
THE BUSINESS OF FRIENDSHIP
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The Business of Friendship goes in-depth about the importance of having friends in our place of employment. Considering we spend most of our time at work, we need to have workplace friends to help keep us sane and mentally healthy. After all, we see our co-workers way more than our outside-of-work friends. When I was working a full-time office job, I would see my co-workers 40 hours a week. At best, I would see some of my other friends once a month, and often times way less.
“The truth is that we’re 78% more likely to spend more time with our colleagues than our non-work friends.”
I have been lucky enough in several of my previous jobs to have found a work best friend. Someone to confide in, vent to each other, laugh with, and just be there through the good days and the rough days. In each instance, they made a job I otherwise would have disliked, tolerable. I am still friends with each of them to this day, years after we have all gone separate ways.
In her book, there is a link to a website where you can take a friendship quiz. I was shocked to learn that roughly 60% of people feel lonely at work at least half of the time. Considering most of us work with other people, this is an insane number! There is no reason for so many of us to go home at night feeling unfulfilled and lonely. You can take the short 10 question Friendship Quiz yourself.
So why do so many of us struggle with feeling isolated and with making friends at work? I think that some of the biggest fears about making friends at work are the potential consequences of it. If something goes south in the friendship, we still have to work with the person. It could make for a really awkward situation and dreading going the job. Or maybe, as pointed out in the book, we fear what could happen to the friendship if someone were to get promoted or worst-case scenario, let go.
“With work being the number one place where most of us are making our best friend, it comes as a painful surprise to most of us that its also the place where most friendships end.”
A real-life situation that I ran into in one job was a boss that discouraged workplace friendship. If anybody were to be caught having a friendly conversation, this boss would say, ‘If there’s time to chat, there is time to ask me what needs to be done. There’s plenty to do.’ The environment felt toxic, stifling, and robotic. We were expected to work, and that was it. Needless to say, I wasn’t there very long at all. If even a fraction of the lonely 60% is due to leaders like this, it’s no wonder that percentage is so high.
THE FRIENDSHIP TRIANGLE
One thing that stood out in The Business of Friendship was the emphasis on the Friendship Triangle. In a nutshell, the Triangle consists of Positivity, consistency, and vulnerability. All relationships start at the base with Positivity and work their way up the sides to a point. The most intimate, best of friends are the ones that will reach the point. Everyone else will be a balancing act between the two sides, which can go up and down at any time.
This can be taken with us into our friendships outside of work, as well. I learned a lot in reading about this, and things became very clear to me in why I sometimes struggle in building those closer friendships. One problem that I tend to have is trying to rush the vulnerability stage. I am an open book, and potentially share things too quickly in budding friendships. This may be a turnoff to others, though, so I need to learn to slow down.
“The number one requirement of healthy relationships is that they leave us feeling good, most of the time. We seek out relationships that feel rewarding to us, with people we enjoy, and with whom we have fun. At the base of our Triangle, we start with Positivity- the experience of feeling more positive about ourselves, and our lives, for having interacted.”
Another thing that I am guilty of is consistency. For example, let’s say I ask somebody if they want to meet up for coffee. If they say yes, but no date is set, I take it as they really don’t want to. Or if they say they are busy, I’ll say to let them know when they free. In both instances, if nothing comes of it, I am unlikely to ask again for fear of ‘bothering’ that person.
I have just started a new job and will be taking with me what I learned in hopes of building those closer workplace friendships.
The Business of Friendship opened my eyes as to how vital friendships in the workplace really are. I went into it, thinking that work and personal lives were completely separate things and that making friends was just a bonus. We are taught to have the mindset of ‘I’m here to work, not make friends.’ I have worked in jobs where I felt alienated and like I was on the outside of the ‘clique.’ The ones where I had friendships, I definitely lasted much longer. You are indeed more likely to stay at a job you dislike if you like who you are working WITH.
“The single best predictor for well-being is enjoying how we spend our days, and more to the point is it depends on not what people are doing- but who they are with.”
All in all, this was a very solid read with some great advice and takeaways. It is a book that anybody in the workplace could benefit from reading and there is something for everybody.