That's What Friends Are For-Making Connections at Work-Key for Work/Life Balance

Harvard Business Review July-August 2020. Experience|Synthesis “True Friends At Work” “The case for making deeper connections with colleagues” by Alison Beard.

An overview and synthesis of ideas presented in three new books: “Social Chemistry, Decoding the Patterns of Human Connection” by Marisa King (Dutton 2020), “Together The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometime Lonely World” by Vivek H Murthy, MD (Harper Wave 2020), “Friendship” by Lydia Denworth (W.W. Norton 2020).

According to Marisa King “your social connections are a strong predictor of your cognitive functioning, resilience and engagement. She cites studies showing that teams of friends perform better; that people with supportive coworkers have more work/life balance and are less stressed; that strong personal ties increase information- and idea-sharing, self-confidence, and learning: and that those who have close friends at work are more efficient in and satisfied with their jobs”.

According the Vivek Murthy “friendship is fundamental to successful professional relationships…It’s in our relationships that we find the emotional sustenance and power to thrive”.

According to Lydia Denworth, friendships “give us purpose, meaning and a more positive outlook. The mere presence of a friend can make it easier to tackle challenges…”.

Examples are many, think Jobs and Wozniak, Lebron and Wade, Elton and Bernie and Oprah and Gayle “supporting one another’s career”.

King notes that although we don’t necessarily pick our seating location at work, proximity is most often a key predictor in making friends. So, if you think you might make a connection beyond your immediate work space or group then reach out with a focus on finding “commonalities with your workmates”. “Seek out others who share your passions, hobbies and worldviews”. More importantly, be reciprocating “True friends support on another, generating mutual positive feelings and personal growth". Be patient as well, becoming friends typically takes nearly 100 hours together and become best friends even longer.

King says of networking behavior we typically consist of three types; “conveners, brokers and expansionists”. Real “self-disclosure and working to understand others’ perspectives strengthen convening-or tightly knit-relationships”. “Asking for help and becoming a better listener and more thoughtful questioner will enhance trust”. Denworth agrees; “The best friendships invite vulnerability”.

Sharing ups and downs with a friend or friends matters. “Real life happens at work: success joy, failure, trauma”. “We need real friends-right there, at our side-through it all.”

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