Friendships at work can boost happiness. Here’s how to nurture themFriendships at work can boost happiness. Here’s how to nurture themGiphy GIFGiphy GIF

Friendships at work can boost happiness. Here’s how to nurture them

But if putting in extra grueling hours at work has lost its appeal, investing in the other humans that you work with may be worth a second look.
In it, the authors share findings of the 85 years of research following people from their teens throughout their lives, assessing factors that lead to health and wellbeing.
“The people who had the warmest connections with other people weren’t just happier, they stayed healthier longer, and they lived longer,” Waldinger says.
“We get little hits of well-being, if you will, from all kinds of relationships, from friends, family, work colleagues.”
“All of that seems to affirm our [need for] belonging,” Waldinger says.
“That we are seen and recognized by others, even the most casual contact.” And since much of our waking lives are spent at work, workplace bonds make a real difference.
Unfortunately, the lack of social connection at work, is starting to be recognized as a growing problem.
The 20% with a work bestie “were better performers on the job,” Waldinger says.
“They were much less likely to leave their job for another one because they had a friend at work.”
So how can we build that sense of warmth and connection with your co-workers? Waldinger compares it to exercising regularly for physical fitness – you need to make a habit of it to reap the rewards.
Exercise your social muscles
“You could send them a text, or an email, or even call them on the phone,” he suggests, “and just say, ‘Hi!
“Much more often than not, you will find that something very positive comes back,” he says.
“What we know with strengthening your relationships is that very tiny steps can lead to responses that will make you feel good.”
“So you could, for example, decide just to notice something about somebody else at work who you’d like to get to know,” he says.
“Notice something they’re displaying on their desk that might be personal.”
“One of the things we know is that when we are curious about someone in a friendly way, it’s flattering and it engages people in conversation.”
“We know that small talk has these benefits of enhancing well-being,” says Waldinger.
“This is a little like a baseball game where you don’t expect to hit the ball every time,” he says.
“But if you try this several times, you will find that much more often than not, you will get that positive response to small talk, to reaching out in some way.”
Get out of your rut, especially if you’re remote
“That experience of coming and seeing your colleagues [will] give you this little upsurge of emotion, because you realize you’ve been deprived of that in-person connection.” You might have to push yourself to go for happy hour with colleagues.
“It’s just much easier to do what’s familiar and controllable,” he says.
But if you catch yourself feeling that way, “notice the resistance, and then let yourself step over it and take the action. If you think about doing it, do it and see what happens.” Leaders can do a lot to foster a culture of warmth and connection.
For instance, he says, they can intentionally create situations where people feel comfortable being vulnerable, sharing something about their hobbies and life outside of work.
“You need leaders to say being personal with each other is valuable, it matters, and it starts at the top,” he says.
“When that happens, the culture can shift in a company where people tend to know each other better, and then care about each other and care about the workplace.”