It’s okay if you don’t have friends at work

Having a good friend at work with whom you can trust and sympathize can be a blessing in these difficult times.

Research has found that it can even fuel greater job satisfaction: In a survey of more than 195,600 employees in the United States, Gallup found that 20% of them said they had a better friend at work. This was also the group that claimed to be most committed and committed to their work.

Does this mean you have problems if you don’t have friends at work? If you’re feeling anxious and embarrassed about not having friends professionally, acknowledge that many people feel the same way.

It’s hard, period, to make adult friends, let alone in your job. Just because you spend more than 2,000 hours a year with your co-workers doesn’t mean you automatically befriend them.

When you consider that a small part of the population will be in the office with you, the assumption that you will like these people enough to be friends with them seems like a lot to ask for, in fact, “says Tanisha Ranger, a Nevada-based clinical psychologist. The pressure to create these deep, satisfying and meaningful relationships all the time wherever you go is too much pressure to put on yourself. “

During a pandemic, people can feel this weight even more. Psychotherapist Shannon Garcia says not having work friends is a common issue for her clients with social anxiety.

“Remote work and social distancing have made interactions in the workplace difficult,” she says. “Without constant time with our co-workers, we’re less likely to make close friendships. If you want to make work friends, you may have to work harder. If you’re not looking for work friends, nothing happens to you.”

I am an example of this. I made close working friendships that lasted longer than work, but I also worked in an office where I had many acquaintances and no friends. Work friendships can help make long, slower days shorter, but I strongly believe that you don’t need to befriend your co-workers to be personally satisfied and professionally successful. Here’s why:

Working friendships can be a blessing, but they can also be a failure. What matters is to treat everyone with kindness and respect.

When you’re socially anxious, it may seem like everyone is making lifelong college friendships without you. Reality Check: Often, those friendships end when work is done. As popular podcast therapist and presenter Esther Perel told HuffPost earlier, these relationships are often conditioned.

“What’s very interesting is how a lot of people have friends at work and when they change jobs, friends don’t go with them,” Perel said. “It’s really powerful to see how circumstantial these relationships really are. One or two people can stay with you in life, and the others probably won’t see you again.”

“If you’re not looking for work friends, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

– Shannon Garcia, psychotherapist

When you’re out looking at someone else’s work friendship, it can seem like something coveted. But it can also be messy and difficult. A study of insurance company employees found that those with more work friends tended to receive higher ratings on performance reviews, but it was also co-workers who reported being more emotionally exhausted from maintaining these bonds.

The lesson here: don’t compare and despair with the work of friendships that seem to enjoy, because you have no idea what may be going on. It is better to focus on your values. If you want to work with friends and you don’t have them, it’s normal to feel alone, but remember that friendships take time and effort to build.

“You can see that two co-workers who have worked together for several years are best friends, but you’ve just started in the last six months. You’re not at their level, and that’s okay. Friendships take time,” says Garcia.

And if you don’t want to make work friends, that’s fine too. Garcia points to research by anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who argues that our brain limits the number of close relationships we can have to about five people. “You may already have your five,” Garcia says.

You don’t need to make friends, but you do have to be kind to get ahead in your work.

The good news is that you don’t need to be friends with your co-workers to be a person that people want to work with.

To succeed, you just need to be kind, says Mary Abbajay, president of Careerstone Group’s Leading Development Consulting and author of Managing Up: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss.

“Opportunities for your career, for your growth, even for your job do not happen in a vacuum. They occur in collaboration and cooperation with other people. “People want to work with people who are easy to work with,” says Abbajay. how opportunities appear “.

Just make sure you don’t seem reluctant to forge relationships. “Objectively, it’s perfectly fine to be without friends at work,” Ranger points out. “However, there’s a certain bias in most U.S. offices against introversion, so there’s a way to see if you’re not particularly interested in making friends at work that can become an obstacle to your career.”

In other words, your reputation matters. If coworkers see you as unfriendly and distant, they may not turn to you for opportunities to improve your profile and help you rise. Therefore, it is important to make it a point to interact with colleagues and be accessible, regardless of whether or not you want work friends.

“Having someone to look up to and look at on their own and smile at silly things is very nice. I’ve had that, and I’ve never exchanged phone numbers with that person.”

– Tanisha Ranger, clinical psychologist

This friendship doesn’t have to be a grueling, elaborate endeavor either. For example, if you’re working remotely, you can show friendship by sending a direct message to your coworker telling him that you liked his recent idea, Abbajay suggested.

“The key to this is that when we’re virtual, it takes some intentionality for this to happen. You’re not going to meet anyone in the hallway or in the copy room,” he advises. a coffee to a partner to learn more about what they do.

Just don’t feel pressured to make a relationship with a co-worker any more than you are. You don’t have to be friends for it to make sense.

“Having someone to look up to and look at on their own and smile at silly things is nice. I’ve had that, and I’ve never exchanged phone numbers with that person,” says Ranger, adding that one piece of advice he gives to depressed clients is that “You don’t have to make friends wherever you go. You just have to interact.”

Ultimately, becoming a work friend is not going to make or break your work experience. That’s up to you. Take it from me. What I remember from the time I spent without friends in an office job is that once I made peace with the fact that I would not be making friends, I could focus on making alliances.

I made a point of asking people I admired if I could have lunch with them to get to know their projects so I could be on their opportunity radar, but I didn’t feel pressured to make it a habit. I freed myself from worrying about the drama of the small office. And I used the time I didn’t spend going to work happy hours going out with my real friends.

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