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Office BFFs: Why Building Friendships At Work Is So Important

Friendships with colleagues can make you happier and boost your business’s bottom line. How can you go about making friends with your officemates?
by Michael Benninger | Sep 12 2017

New research finds that forging friendships with your co-workers can make you happier and more productive, while also boosting your business’s bottom line. But what’s the best way to go about making friends with your officemates?

A recent study highlighted by Harvard Business Review found that friendships between co-workers can significantly increase employees’ performance, while also putting workers in a better mood.

According to the research, having friends in a company makes it easier for workers to ask for help without fear of judgment. Furthermore, the study showed that inter-departmental friendships are especially valuable because they grant employees access to informal networks full of information they might not otherwise encounter. The research also revealed that employees with close friends at work reported being happier more often, which positively influenced the quality of their work. And it further suggested that managers and department heads could adopt certain practices to foster friendships among employees, benefiting the business as a whole.

Though the report does delve into the downsides of intra-office friendships, it concludes the benefits of befriending colleagues far outweigh any drawbacks. But becoming buddies with your co-workers can be challenging, especially if you’re new to the company or not used to initiating interactions.

To help you create deeper relationships with the people you spend your workdays with, we’ve compiled key insights from two of the top-selling titles on the art and science of making friends. So without further ado, here are some tips to help you convert your colleagues into confidantes.

Employ Emotional Intelligence to Create Relationships with Co-workers

from Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Emotions influence many facets of life, including our relationships with others

Learning to better interpret our colleagues’ feelings can provide fertile grounds for friendships. And even if your emotional intelligence (EI) isn’t naturally high, you can acquire and develop it throughout life.

Put yourself in your colleagues’ shoes

Deepen your social interactions by using EI to imagine yourself in someone else’s skin. Knowing how you’d feel in a certain situation can help you to gauge how others might react under similar circumstances.

Discover the emotions of others by analyzing nonverbal signs

You can judge a person’s mood just by studying their facial expressions or body language. To improve your empathy toward a co-worker, mirror their posture. Simply doing this will evoke similar emotions in yourself, making it easier to relate to officemates.

Find balance between the emotional brain and the rational brain

Level-up your emotional intelligence by striking equilibrium between your “thinking brain” and your “feeling brain.” This will increase your capacity for meaningful interactions, while endowing you with a more grounded mindset.

Use inner dialogues to enhance your emotional intelligence

Strengthen your self-awareness and self-management by imagining how interactions with your colleagues might go before actually engaging them. These inner dialogues can help you identify and name your own emotions, making them easier to spot in others.

If you need to criticize, be specific and constructive

If you’re in a position where you must criticize a co-worker in a professional capacity, pick a specific incident and indicate exactly what should have been done differently and what was done well. This way, you’ll avoid an unpleasant reaction and make yourself clear without offending your colleague.

Use Universal Tactics to Boost Your Likability

from How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie’s iconic self-help book from 1936 revolutionized the industry with its basic rules for making friends. And despite the fact it was published more than 80 years ago, the book’s timeless wisdom is just as relevant now as it was during The Great Depression.

Smile to make a strong first impression

If someone is smiling when we first meet them, we tend to like them from the start. Put your pearly whites on display whenever you meet someone new, and the other person will instantly be happy to see you.

Never criticize others, and avoid arguments at all costs

People are primarily driven by emotion, not reason, which is why pointing out someone’s mistakes doesn’t change their behavior or make them think favorably of you. Yet when disagreements inevitably occur, stop at nothing to keep emotions out of them.

Show your appreciation often

Everyone likes being complimented and told they’re doing a good job, and you can use this truth to and make people enjoy working with you. Share your full, honest, and enthusiastic appreciation whenever possible, and frequently use your co-workers’ names to subconsciously increase your charisma.

To be interesting yourself, be interested in others

If you want to appear likable, listen — don’t talk. Ask your officemates about themselves and invest your full attention. Show a genuine interest in learning more about everything they say, and refrain from interrupting or giving into distractions.

Openly and immediately admit your mistakes

Publicly criticizing yourself is far preferable to listen to others do it, and this practice can also make others think more highly of you. It takes character to openly admit your shortcomings, but by owning them instantly you appear far more likable.

Boost your productivity and increase your happiness at work by befriending a co-worker. Start by taking a deeper dive into either of these titles today or explore the thousands of other books in Blinkist’s ever-expanding library.

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