Top Workplace Friends Every Professional Should Have
You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. Friends are your “chosen family.” You spend a lot of time at work, most of your waking hours during the week, and having friends that support you in the various stages of your work life will greatly enrich your experience.
Once you start working, you’ll find you need different types of friends that serve different purposes. Your old college roommate or best friend from high school may have moved on and while you haven’t lost touch, it’s not the same as having friends at work that you see each day.
Here are some types of friends who will make work more enjoyable and help you grow in your career:
Peer friends work at relatively the same level you are. They may or may not be on your team, but they understand the work environment, know the tasks and are familiar with your day-to-day challenges and responsibilities.
There are a numbers of different types of “peer friends” to have that help to create a positive work environment and can set you up for success:
- Fun Friend: This person makes you laugh and lightens the load. You can always count on him/her to crack a joke or make a normally dull task a little bit more entertaining. Always warm and welcoming, this friend’s good sense of humor is just what you need.
- Honest Friend: This person will tell you the truth… always. There’s no sugar-coating, side-stepping or pretending. You can argue with each other and feel safe, educating each other from different points of view and still remain friends.
- Adventurous Friend: This person is up for anything and will push you to try new ways of doing things and get you to step out of your comfort zone. You’ll learn to be more confident and expand your horizons around this type of friend.
- Inspirational Friend: This friend is a coach to you and helps you see where your choices are leading and what might be next in your future. They’re great listeners and are loyal to you. You’ll feel more hopeful and invigorated when you engage with this friend.
- Champion Friend: This friend will sing your praises and stand up for you… even when you’re not present. They’re your best advocates. They are very accepting of who you are and you can feel safe in confiding in them. They love to see you succeed.
- Long Term Friend: This person has known you forever at work. Maybe you started on the same day and have been close ever since. You’ve worked on the same team, different teams or on varied jobs, but you always support each other and celebrate all your achievements and promotions.
This “friend” might not be someone you go with for drinks after work, but maybe it’s someone who takes an interest in you, isn’t your manager and is willing to share some advice and feedback. It’s not a stressful relationship since you don’t report to them and they are genuinely interested in helping you become a better leader and move forward in your career. This might even be someone in another department who has climbed up the ladder along the same path you’re currently on… for whatever reason, they see a way to share what they’ve learned and are “grooming” you to move up.
This person is an advocate for you in situations where you normally wouldn’t be included. It’s a hard relationship to initiate, but well worth it when you have the chance. When you do your best each day or step up at a special event and are noticed for the quality work you do, you might have a chance to interact with someone close to the top. Even though a senior level or general manager will not have a lot of time to chat, there’s no reason you can’t make a great impression. It can make a real impact on your career advancement.
FRIENDS TO AVOID
Then there are the “fair-weather” friends and people who are simply toxic that don’t build you up or add value to your life. For instance:
- Unreliable Friend: This person is always “dying to see you” and makes plans and then can’t make it or bails out at the last minute. Then he/she is unavailable to re-schedule and the cycle goes on and on. You feel bad that you can never connect and risk tying up your free time for someone who never shows up.
- Party Friend: This person loves to go out after work and always has to party and get drunk. He/she is never interested in having coffee or going for a walk and actually talking. The music is loud, the drinks are flowing and it’s always party time.
- Favor Friend: What about the person who always needs you to do them a favor? They want you to help out one of their friends, help them move, take their shift, feed their dog, whatever. Take, take, take… really not a friend of yours, they just use you.
- "Need a Parent" Friend: Someone who constantly brings you problems they need you to solve for them. It’s a one-way street since you never have a chance to share your problems and talk over anything that’s bothering you at work or in your personal life.
- Competitor Friend: This is the person who always has to be better than you. He/she isn’t happy when you get ahead or find a significant other or get a new opportunity to move up at work. She is only happy when proving she’s better than you.
Friends at work are vital. They get you through the day and inject some humor, support you when you need it and offer advice as well as congratulations. You may not have all these types of friends around you, but at least you’ll recognize the ones you’d miss if they weren’t around.