Having genuine work relationships is hugely important to our morale. According to a study by the Gallup Organization, people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. And it doesn't just have to be a "best friend": the study found that people who simply had a good friend in the workplace are 50% more likely to be satisfied. People who have friends at work receive a whopping 137% more personal development support.
Healthy work relationships, boost your productivity, work engagement and have a direct impact on your overall success. Interestingly, even though workplace friendships make us happier, people are increasingly reluctant to make friends at work in comparison to previous years. Why? Once work was a major source of friendships. We took our families to work picnics and invited colleagues over for dinner, now we seek to draw the line between work and personal time, to promote better wellbeing. However, even though separation of work and life is important, studies tell us that having good friendships at work make us happier.
Where to Build Good Work Relationships
We should try to build and maintain good working relationships with everyone. However, there are certain relationships that deserve extra attention.
For example, you will benefit from developing good relationships with key stakeholders in your organisation. These are the people who have a stake in your success or failure as they are impacted by it. Forming a bond with key influencers will help you ensure that your projects, and career, stay on track and further, will give you an idea of their work standards/preferences.
To find out who these people are, do a Stakeholder Analysis. Once you've created a list of people who are impacted by your work, you can devote time to building and managing these relationships, in an authentic way.
How to Build Authentic Work Friendships
Cultivating relationships doesn't have to come at the expense of meeting goals at work. Science has now discovered how to foster closeness and break down social and emotional barriers in less than 45 minutes.
One study found that binning small talk and instead focusing on self-disclosure and non-work topics can forge a closeness that makes co-workers more collaborative, productive, and accountable. Another survey of global workers found that over 26% said discussing success with colleagues motivates them.
As a general rule, when making new friends, Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, suggests that "Vulnerability is the key to emotional bonding, without which relationships tend to feel superficial and meaningless.”
Whilst finding common ground can certainly help make an initial connection oversharing is a no-no.It can make people feel you lack authenticity. Be mindful of personal space. Don't quickly suggest meeting up outside of work, its a big step to take a relationship outside of the office, so take things slowly or it may feel awkward.
Last but by no means least, gossip isn’t a good way to fast track friendships, it only fosters a negative environment. Stick to positive interactions and avoid discussions that may back-fire against you in the long run.
Building good work relationships makes you happier, more productive and can open the doors to career advancement. Start by devoting a portion of your day to cultivating meaningful work relationships. Even five minutes a day, if it's genuine, can help to build a bond between you and a colleague. Be honest, avoid gossip, and just enjoy getting to share your precious time with people you consider to be friends.