Saturday, May 14, 2011

Friends @ Work

Apart from the wonderful clump of church friends I grew up with back in my home town of Ware, where? yes exactly! Almost all of my best friends are people I've worked with at one time or another.

I know some people shy away from getting 'too close' to folks at work and I somewhat understand that; after all it is tricky to challenge a 'friend' about performance related issues or even worse having to lay a friend off from a job. But I have experienced both ends of that scale, I've laid off friends and been laid off by a friend and our friendships still work, even though we don't get to see each other as often as we would like.

My Dad is a great example for me of managing friendships with people at work, he's a very outgoing, jovial kind of chap and has many 'friends' but his very best work friend is Uncle Ken. Interestingly they did not like each other at first, but then worked together for many years, went through trials, hopeless bosses, organizational changes, power shifts and everything else that happens everyday at work, and throughout it all their friendship grew and strengthened.

Listening to them sharing stories of working together is hilarious, it's amazing that any work ever got done with all the practical jokes, teasing and general hilarity that went on, but I think those memories are what bonds them together, and it's bond that's lasted over forty years.

Anyway back to friends @ work.  Some folks would have you believe that you can just come in to work, glide through your inbox, your patient rosta, your mis-en-place or whatever it is you do on a daily basis and so long as you 'get the job done' you really don't need anyone else. 

I think that's a sad way to work and a sad way to live and here's why...

1. We spend approximately a third of our adult lives at work and as humans we crave connection with others. Do we really think we can live as islands at work and leave the connecting to the other third of our life? (the third third we're sleeping!)

2. Work is hard, even work that isn't physically or mentally hard gets hard over time because of repetition, working conditions, work load and a thousand other reasons. Just doing hard work on our own is exhausting, but having a friend to carry the load or just raise a smile makes even the hardest work feel a little better.

3.  You never know where a work friendship will take you. It may take you to foreign lands, to experience different cultures, to look at life from another perspective or like my Dad and Uncle Ken it may take you way past that job, through the rest of your life and well into retirement. 

So I say, GO MAKE FRIENDS with the people you work with! Obviously not all of them will be the right kind of friends for you but some will, and those friendships will make all the difference.

As for me, I'm SO grateful for my friends @ work, for Debbie, Ruth, Joanna, Emma, Trent, Paul, Paula, Sue, Karla, Kevin, Amy, Jennifer, Judy, John, Lynette, Bob, Trudy, Kristin, Yvonne, Kathy, John, Laura, Karen, Brandi, Wendy, Stephanie, Pam, Paula, Shelly, Judy, Barrrb and SO many more.

I have no idea what my work and life would be like without them and I'm very glad I don't have to find out :-)

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