It’s one of the most controversial questions that Gallup ever asks: “Do you have a best friend at work?”
Surprised to hear that it’s so controversial? There’s a reason. It turns out that a lot of people have strong feelings about workplace relationships – who they connect with, how, when, and whether it’s even okay to make friends with coworkers.
“I’ve learned there are people who see a clear dividing line between work and home life,” said Annamarie Mann at Gallup. “I’ve also had my share of encounters with leaders and managers who view friendship as detrimental to productivity.”
Let’s clear that up right away. According to Gallup research, there’s actually “a concrete link” between having a best friend at work and going the extra mile in one’s job.
Workplace connections are important for employees. “We spend more of our waking hours at work than at home.” Mann said. “We want work to feel worthwhile. We go to our work friends when we need to celebrate and commiserate about our personal and professional lives. In the absence of that outlet, work can seem lonely and isolating.”
Belonging “is a fundamental human need” according to Emma Seppala and Marissa King at Greater Good Magazine. At work, genuine connection allows you to have experiences of “vulnerability, authenticity, and compassion.” That’s not always easy, but according to CNBC, it’s “critical for long-term happiness.”
So how do you make meaningful relationships at work?
Four tips to form meaningful connections at work
#1: Be real.
You can’t really connect with someone when you’re playing a part. You want people to make friends with you, not your mask.
#2: Be observant.
Notice who’s doing what, good at what, and struggling with what. Practice listening and asking questions – it’s a rare skill! Make it your goal to make someone feel seen.
#3: Be helpful.
Everyone could use a hand with something. Giving people a reason to feel grateful is a surefire way to spark a connection.
#4: Be patient.
Not everyone you try to connect with will become your next BFF. Some won’t notice. Some won’t respond the way you wish. But give it time, and good things will grow.
If you practice these tips, you’ll very likely begin to make connections. Enjoy each connection for what it is and never stop trying.