Career Resources and Coaching for Smart Women

Do You Have Enough Friends For Career Happiness?

When was the last time you thought about the amount of your salary as directly related to the number of your friends?

The worst work day in the world can be turned around in five minutes when you have a good talk with a friend.

Feeling trapped in a job can all change when a friend reaches out suggests you apply for an interesting new job at their new company (involving a raise!)

Your work stress can lower instantly after contact with a friend.

And, your salary can get a boost when a friend tells you exactly what the job you want is paying, so you don’t have to guess.

Friendship at work is crucial to your happiness.  So, as a part of the Career Happiness Revolution (get on board here!) we are going to break down what you need to know about friendship to be happier at work.  Here’s what you need to know now:

The surprising health benefits of friendship at work

Did you know that not having friends is like smoking 15 cigarettes a day or like putting on a ton of weight? When we are with our friends (even if not close friends) our bodies release chemicals that stop stressors from being our system.

Yep, that’s right: Friendship is key to feeling better at work. 

How many friends do you have at work? How many close friends do you have in your life? And, in times of work strife, do you have several people you can call?

A way to boost your immediate career happiness is to start making friends.  Ideally, you will have a few really good friends (defined as people you really like AND people who you hang out with and lift your spirits).

Now, you may finger wave here and tell me you hate your co-workers or that you don’t need any more friends, and I’m here to finger-wave right back at you and say that you ALWAYS benefit from having more friends and friendly contacts in your network.  You don’t have to marry these people, but if you can enjoy holding a conversation with them and learn more about their lives, that will make you feel happier during your work day.

And that is a benefit worth having.


How to build more work friendships

So, it can be a pain in the ass to try and make more friends.  We aren’t five and this isn’t a playground, right?

It’s a pain, but it’s also not impossible.  Close friendships take time, vulnerability and consistency.  So, pick a list of the people you like the most, and spend some time getting to know them slowly.

Start with innocent and friendly commentary around topics of interest: What’s going on with the company, plans for labor day, what happened on Breaking Bad recently.  Whatever you think will be easy to make small talk around.

Then, as you make the effort to speak to them regularly, go a little deeper: Ask about their family, what they are up to in their lives right now, and share a little more about you.

Never feel rushed, and don’t try and push something too far too fast.  Sometimes there is an immediate connection, sometimes not, but either way if you share a little bit and ask about them, your friendship will progress. I know this sounds basic (and sometimes it feels like it should happen so MUCH faster) but this is just a simple reminder that trust comes over time.

Make it a practice to go to coffee or lunch with new people often, and with people you like often, both build up relationships, and make your network (and your health) stronger!

Need other ideas? Here’s a way to proactively dive deep on the topic of friendship.


Networking beyond your day job (what happens when you move on)

Have you ever moved on from a job, left a bunch of close friends behind, and then been surprised when you have never really heard from them again?

It can be a really sucky feeling.

You feel like those people never cared, and so you don’t reach out.

In the meantime, they usually feel like it’s your job to keep in touch, so they don’t reach out.

Truthfully – it’s both your fault. 

Work friendships are easy because you come to work every day and see each other. You stay in contact because you have to be.  So, you don’t always work to try and include some of these work friendships into other parts of your life…which is bad.

If the only thing you and someone else have in common is work … well, chances are that you won’t continue forward in your friendship once that work piece has been taken away.

So it’s up to you to transition that work friendship over to home.  Meet your co-worker out on the weekend (not just for happy hour).  Go and see a movie, and introduce them to your spouse. Whatever you need to do so that you are a part of that person’s life, and they are a part of yours… outside of work.

And for those folks who you like (but not THAT much), but you do want to keep in your network once you move on, consider making a proactive non-creepy plan to reach out to them periodically.

Friend them on Facebook and on Linked In, so that you can share articles, witty comments, and photos and see what they are up to.  Send messages periodically, and every now and again try and meet up for a coffee with the people that you know are good contacts for your career.

The down and dirty truth is that your job opportunities, your ability to rebound from trouble at work, and your overall health are all impacted by your focus on friendship. 

So, take a moment and do an assessment of your work friends. Do you have enough? Do you need more? Who are you going to stalk *cough* be friendly with going forward?

Pick someone and get to it!

Ready for more happiness at work? Start a career revolution over here! It’s more fun than what you are currently doing :).