We met in the Fish Bowl. The internal, open plan area for the more junior consultants at Ernst & Young. It was way back in the early 1990s.
He’d affectionately tease me for my non-corporate style – the big frizz of hair (that is more under control these days) and my favourite belt buckle back then – a telephone that you could actually dial (don’t ask, it was fashionable at the time).
We’ve been friends ever since. 27 years of true friendship.
Do you have an old colleague now friend like that?
According to Matthew Lieberman, author of Wired to Connect, in 1985 most people said they had 3 close friends. In 2004 it was zero.
So last week was extra special. I went to Sydney and got to stay with my old true friend from the Fish Bowl. He moved there 10 years ago for work.
During the day, I spent time with my newer mastermind buddies and coach. [Yes, I practice what I preach. I coach and have a coach. I lead a mastermind and participate in one too.]
The bonus was going home at night to the comfort of an old friendship.
But work relationships don’t always turn out so well. Relationships don’t stand still as we continuously adapt to one another.
Someone who is a friend now may turn out to be a foe later. Even if nothing remarkable happens while you work together, you can still drift apart.
As they say, it takes two to tango and only time will tell.
What matters is that you do have a friend at work, even if it only turns out to be a short-term thing.
Gallup research proves how important it is to have a friend at work for engagement. It’s not just because friends are easier to work with. It’s also because there is more on the line. You don’t want to let them down.
And you spend so much of your time at work, imagine how lonely it would be without a friend.
If your relationships aren’t so friendly, imagine the time suck of those interpersonal difficulties and dramas. Let alone how much they drag you down.
The thing with any relationship, including those with colleagues, is that it takes risk.To move from being friendly to a true friend requires self-disclosure – beyond workplace matters.
If you want to go from friendly to true friends, I suggest you start by testing the waters.
Reveal a little of your not-just-work self and see if your potential new friend self-discloses in turn. If it’s not reciprocated, know that you can at least be friendly. Just don’t expect more.
If it is reciprocated and things start to open up, then this might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
I hope it is, for your sake.
Don’t forget that it’s easy to stay connected while you’re working together. It takes more effort when you’re not.
If you want to remain friends, I’ve seen research that suggests it’s best to connect every couple of weeks. But from my experience it doesn’t have to be so frequent to work out well. It just has to suit the both of you.
How about you…what’s been your experience with friends at work?