Are Friendships at Work a Good Thing?
Do you have friends at work? According to research, having a good friend at work increases our happiness and makes us more productive.
Watch Dr. Karin Ryan on Twin Cities Live as she discusses the importance of building friendships at work and how to navigate boundaries and conflict in workplace relationships.
Nystrom & Associates on Twin Cities Live
The Research Behind Friendships at Work
Positive workplace relationships have an incredible impact on our well-being. To help us better understand this, Dr. Karin Ryan explains further and offers up additional benefits to maintaining these friendships:
Research confirms that if we have a good friend at work, we are much more likely to be engaged at work and feel more positive about our work. This makes perfect sense when we consider that we spend 8 hours or 1/3 of each day at work. Humans are naturally social beings so if we enjoy our social interactions at work, we are happier at work.
She also points out that when we have positive relationships at work we also have:
- More effective collaboration: If we like each other, we are more likely to communicate more effectively and have better problem-solving.
- Improved morale and productivity: Feeling cared about makes us work harder.
- Increase growth or advancement: When we build each other up, we become our best selves.
Related: A Fixed vs. Growth Mindset
How To Develop Positive Friendships at Work
If you don’t have friendships at work, you might be wondering how you can start to build those relationships. Dr. Karin Ryan shares some simple, yet important tips for starting those relationships that can improve your work life:
- Interact with others and be nice while doing it.
- Show up for meetings, actively participate, and attend social events.
- Chat with colleagues in the breakroom.
- Share appropriate personal details as meetings are getting started or ending. Just a few minutes can make a big difference in building work friendships, and you can still get to business.
- Be helpful, proactively reach out and support projects, and accept help when you need it.
- Be reliable and trustworthy. Do what you say you are going to do, be consistent, be as positive as possible, and respect boundaries.
- Don’t gossip or talk negatively about others. These things bring us down and make us not trust each other. We tend to think, “If they talk about that friend this way, do they also talk about me that way?”
- Support and praise co-workers when they do something well.
- Honor guidelines and policies.
- Maintain healthy friendship boundaries when it comes to personal details, avoiding dependency, one person always caring for another, or uneven dynamics.
Working with others means we see them often, thus creating the perfect opportunity to connect. With that connection, however, conflict might arise as well.
Addressing Conflict in Work Relationships
Conflict will come up in work relationships because they come up in any and all relationships. If there is tension or conflict, try these tips.
- Check yourself and see if you are being judgmental or closed-minded.
- Recognize that the more diverse thinking, the richer the ideas. Respect these differences.
- Communicate more and communicate clearly.
Many work conflicts are due to misunderstandings and lack of clarity. Take extra time to sit down and share what you are thinking and feeling. This helps us to collaborate and compromise.
If we practice regular communication, we avoid conflict. For example, this can be simple things like discussing who is running the meeting ahead of time and who is following up on what that can avoid conflict later.
In addition, it can be helpful to incorporate the following practices to address conflict:
- Make sure you are really listening to what the other person is saying, not just thinking about what you are going to say next or why you disagree.
- Use emotional intelligence. Check in with how you are feeling and reflect on what the other person may be thinking and feeling.
- Take time to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and consider their thoughts, needs, and feelings.
- Consider how helpful that would be if you are working on a shared project but have different demands and expectations.
- Consider what the roles are.
- Consider what their past experience has been.
Take Care of Yourself and Build Friendships at Work
Another piece of advice when it comes to building friendships at work includes managing your own stress and taking care of yourself.
“People have a tendency to “take out their stuff” on those around them, and as we mentioned you are around co-workers much of your day, making them easy targets. If we take care of ourselves and encourage others to do the same, we are happier, nicer, and more likely to be friends.”
Related: How to Make Friends as an Adult
A Word From Nystrom & Associates
Building friendships at work is important, but if you’re not taking care of yourself (including your mental health), that can be difficult to do. If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, stress, or another challenge, please reach out for help. Talk with us at 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment online.