A colleague said to me in passing the other day: “we are here to work, not to make friends”. Many people will tell you that is how they go about their work life; they feel friendships in the workplace are unnecessary because you are there for the single purpose of making money.
No time for chitchat. It got me thinking, what’s wrong with making friends, or rather what is so wrong with being friendly with the people you work with? First of all, for the sake of our own energy, it can’t hurt to be kind and friendly to the next human being.
It is said that kindness can help us relate to other people and to have more positive relationships with them. Plus, it makes us happier. Secondly, we spend an average of 45 hours a week at work, so many of us see our colleagues more than our families. I just think for people we spend so much time around, it would be nice to get along with them daily. It makes the workplace a much better environment to work in.
We all enjoy spending time with our friends; it makes us happy, and they can sometimes help us get through some really tough times. It’s the same with friends at our workplace; it makes time go by faster, and they make our days more enjoyable. Even if you don’t love your job, you can enjoy your day at work if you have friends to collaborate with and chat with throughout the day.
We actually perform best when in a happy, positive environment. Research has proven that “friends in the workplace give us a better sense of belonging, and increase job satisfaction, performance and productivity. ”We have no choice who our colleagues are but we can choose to be kind, friendly and professional. I am not saying you need to be best friends with every person at your workplace, nor to start hanging out every other weekend.
You don’t have to tell anyone your deep dark secrets either. It’s just nice to have friendly conversation at work, or to even share a joke or two every now and then. They say, “people don’t leave companies; they leave managers”, and sometimes they leave because the environment is toxic and unbearable. Conflicts escalate easier when there already is bad energy, so why not contribute toward the positive energy flowing around your workplace?
Every relationship, however, should have healthy boundaries, and personal conversations are going to happen at work – that’s expected. I feel that for as long as it doesn’t risk influencing your work in a negative manner, it pays off to have positive interpersonal relationships in the workplace. That is the reason many companies spend money putting staff through various team-building experiences.
However, be aware of people’s workloads and respect those around you. You are still in the workplace after all. Try to avoid drama and gossip as much as possible, and you should be fine. There’s nothing wrong with being friendly at work and subsequently contributing to positive energy in the workplace. We all win!
• Paula Christoph’s column concentrates on positive and inspirational write-ups every second Friday in the New Era newspaper.