What’s Your Friendliness Factor at Work?
When we ask what makes you happy at work the vast majority of people say the people they work with.
Yet, how conscious are you of your friendliness factor?
Before I was transforming the way the world develops people, I used to spend hours, days, weeks and months “focused”. Conscious that my face looks serious when I am focusing (not a resting bitch face thank you), when I moved into management and leadership roles, I had to consciously keep reminding myself to actively express my friendly side so I didn’t look unapproachable. Confession over!
Relate research shares that, “we’re almost as likely to have daily contact with our colleagues (62%) as we have with our children (64%), and that having good connections is important for our well-being and health”. Gallup research reports that people who have a “best friend at work” are not only more likely to be happier and healthier, they are also seven times as likely to be engaged in their job. But should we be best friends or colleagues and where is the balance?
I have yet to see a Leadership or Management Programme in the world that includes the importance of being friendly as a core module.
There are lots of reasons why our approachability and friendliness can become jaded at work, including stress, focus, frustration and lack of conscious awareness. But one of the greatest blockers we see is the need to look and act “professional”. This mask creates distance, formality and hierarchy. It’s also not impressive. Again and again, we see people remove the mask, be themselves, and promotion follows.
So what’s your friendliness factor? Do you believe that lifting your “status” creates a persona of authority or are you so busy not delegating and doing it yourself that you are a one person silo?!
Be the same you at work as outside of work.
If you change the way that you are and communicate when at work, compared to when you are out of work, then you are reducing your realness. In our experience, these behaviours reduce collaboration and connection between teams, and can make individuals feel out of the loop, isolated and lonely.
An HBR article this week highlighted the importance of friendliness at work and quotes research about the importance of what sociologists term ‘multiplex’ ties. These are connections made where there is an ‘overlap of roles or affiliations from a different social context’, in other words – connections that are not just about work. The article goes on to suggest eight questions to ask to connect and build rapport with people on a basis other than just work, such as; ”what’s the best thing that happened to you this year?” or ”what excites you right now?’’ This week Fast Company has talked about how to be an empathetic listener, and suggest questions to ask to improve empathy.
These articles are interesting, but are we over-complicating things?
Is the key to connecting and having useful and real communication at work, actually about just being yourself?
Here are our top tips for bringing the non-work you into work, and upping your friendly factor:
- Remembering that our colleagues are funny and real people (even the ones you have discounted!), rather than just roles.
- Humanise your workplace by talking openly and normally – just as you would at home.
- Don’t conform, we often think of work as having to be professional and formal. None of us have ‘professional’ written on our hearts! Be informal and normal.
- When you need to achieve something, think about how you might ask a friend – and take that approach.
- Ask for help at least once a day. This may be an opinion, a prompt or an idea, but it’s a beginning.
- Give your help to others. We are all busy, make time to spend 10 minutes helping another.
- Book regular team time, and prioritise it. You don’t have to climb a mountain or build a raft (a waste of time), but simply being together, working, planning and focusing on your relationships together will bring you closer as a team.
- Step forward and lift your consciousness and level of interaction.
MAKE THE EFFORT.