If you’re one of the 300 million people globally who, according to Gallup, don’t have a single friend, I’m ready, willing and able to be your friend. And what a wonderful friend I will be!
I will provide free advice on every aspect of your career, even when it’s a subject I know nothing about (especially if it’s a subject I know nothing about.) Also, I will be absolutely shameless when it comes to borrowing money and, as a sign of our special relationship, I will never think once about paying you back. Finally, I promise to spread embarrassing stories about you — and if there are no embarrassing stories about you, I will make some up, some real whoppers.
Because that’s what friends do.
At this point, you may be one of the 300 million people globally who don’t have a single friend who are now thinking how lucky they are. This is a view that Jon Clifton would not endorse.
When it comes to friends, Clifton, the CEO of Gallup, is all in. “Having a friend at work is strongly linked to business outcomes,” he writes in “The Power of Work Friends,” his recent article in the Harvard Business Review. Workplace friendships lead to “improvements in profitability, safety, inventory control and employee retention.”
Unfortunately, many top executives expect “employees to leave their personal lives at the door.” If you doubt it, ask yourself: When was the last time you were invited to your manager’s house for a pajama party?
I thought so.
The move to working from home has also made making friends difficult. After two years laboring in your coronavirus cave, your best friend is probably the Amazon delivery person. Completely understandable. They know just what you want and lay it at your feet, or at your doormat — pretty much the same thing. Then they go away without expecting a thank-you.
Now that’s a friend.
There are proven ways to find besties at work, which will be good for you and good for me, too. Frankly, being your friend is positively exhausting.
No. 1: Buddy up
Many companies assign a buddy to new employees, and these relationships can often turn into real friendships. It can also be a lot of fun for the veteran employee since they can fool the newbie into thinking that it’s OK to wash your feet in the break-room sink or call the boss “thunder thighs.”
No. 2: Get in their face
Zoom and Slack are fine workplace productivity tools, but they don’t do much for creating lasting friendships. Emails are especially problematic, since they are prone to misinterpretation, like having your co-workers believe that you don’t respect them simply because you address them as “useless, brainless jerks who are too stupid to realize how stupid they are.”
“Moving people’s workspaces closer together” is a technique management may use to encourage closer relationships between co-workers. Don’t wait. Squish your chair right next to your closest colleague, or get rid of your chair altogether and sit on their lap.
Working together with this kind of proximity is sure to generate a close friendship and, probably, an immediate trip to HR. This could work out well. HR people are very lonely and will certainly welcome the opportunity to make a new friend.
No. 3: Get in a jam
It isn’t only musicians who get together for “jam sessions.” Communal discussion groups are happening all the time at your company. If you are not invited to these corporate jams, it is certainly because you are brilliant at brainstorming and everyone is afraid you’ll show them up. Or they just hate you.
Don’t be deterred. Any time you see two or more co-workers talking together, whether it’s in the conference room or the lunch room, step right up and insert yourself into the conversation. Let everyone know that you have strong opinions on any subject that could occupy their feeble little brains, and they would be foolish not to hear what you have to say.
No question, everyone in that meeting will walk away with a strong desire to be your friend, and if they don’t contact you immediately after the jam, you hunt them down wherever they are hiding and let them know that you are now BFFs. You should also use this occasion to schedule a lunch or a pajama party.
Just make sure they understand that they can’t sleep with your stuffies.
Sometimes, even friends have to draw the line.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.