Having friendships at work makes us feel more connected, it goes beyond just being co-workers as we can share so much with one another. Workplace friendships are positive when there is the sharing of experiences, openness of giving honest feedback or even at times acting as a sounding board to each other, these bonds make being at work more lighter and enjoyable
Research illustrates that friendships matter- The Harvard Study of Adult Development may be the longest study of adult life that’s ever been done, it has being running since 1938. In total there were 724 men who were split into two groups in America and the study tracked the mans lives in respect’s of work, home and their health.
The major lesson learnt was: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier, this is based from these 3 learnings from the study-
1.Social connections are good for our health and loneliness can reduce an individuals length of life.
2. It’s not just the number of friends you have, it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. A well known saying about poor quality friendships is – ‘You can be lonely in a crowd’.
- Third lesson about relationships and health is that good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains too. People in their 80’s who didn’t have strong relationships experienced earlier memory decline and it was the opposite for these in strong relationships.
(Robert Waldinger- What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness )
Workplace Factors That Can Contributed To Friendship Groups Changing –
With any friendships we all want a sense of belonging by having shared values, many friendships are formed outside the work environment but friendships that are made at work may have a few factors that may impact the bonds to the point that they gradually diminish.
Sometimes the bonds that used to bring everyone together are now gone as the balance and expectations that was once present in the relationships change due to external factors- for example changes are made to the work environment, changes to the leadership team occur or even if someone leaves the team.
Change is hard and its inevitable that its going to happen at some point, in the past I have experienced some work places where they have calcified and have harden themselves against new ideas and new people, this makes the work environment a hard place as relationships are not platonic.
In a workplace where a couple of friendship groups are present, one individual belonging may feel the ‘push and pull’ to conform in a particular way. They may find it difficult to go against the group even if they don’t agree with the majority view and if the person speaks up they may be shunned away due to pressure.
When a person becomes an outsider this makes the workplace more complicated as the individual cannot engage as they are not exclusive to the group and may be treated differently.
Close friendships that have constant contact within both personal and professional spaces may cause the role of social and work relationships to become blurred. This may lead to distractions by bringing to work personal problems or even taking home the problems from work, which may impact both facets of home and work life.
Another major issue may be workplace boundaries are crossed and it may become difficult for two individuals to see eye to eye, no one ever wants to upset another person and theres never a desire for friendships to end. But when a person is perceived differently- as not equal or even perceived as lesser in a friendship, than boundaries may be crossed to the point of conflict, relationships may need a lot of repair or even become difficult to fix at that point.
It’s devastating when friendships are no longer platonic and they end, I am now realising that nearly everyone loses friends at some point in their life. I feel that every person we meet has good intentions but many factors can effect the harmony of relationships, each encounter forms us in one way or another- either positively or to challenge us.
I am like anyone else and have lost friendships when they have become strained or messy as different situations have dictated, but I do feel privilege to have met many people even if it was for only a particular period of time in my life. I now think of true friendships as being a connection of mutually enriching to each person, that are meaningful to you and in such a way that you remain true to yourself.