Friends at Work:
Three Types of Friendships


Friends-at-Work Many of us have friends at work, while others, including leaders and C-level executives, seem to struggle making friends in a workplace environment.  Why is that?

Aristotle described three kinds of friends that meet different purposes.

  1. Friendships based on utility: people connect and maintain their relationship based on mutual benefits.
  2. Friendships based on pleasure: The relationship is based on mutual enjoyment and emotional rapport.
  3. Friendships based on good: People connect and support one another based on shared goals and values. Elements of both utility and pleasure are combined in this third type of friendship.

The Golden Rule of Friendship

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been reading about making friends at work. It seems that those with workplace friendships experience greater happiness and productivity. But building these relationships is not always easy.

When you think about friendship and the lessons you’ve learned, what comes to mind?  Do you recall the first lesson? If you’re anything like me, it was probably the Golden Rule.

According to author Jack Schafer, Ph.D., in his book The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over, many of us make friends by using this unspoken rule:

The Golden Rule of Friendship – if you want people to like you, make them feel good about themselves.

The Golden Rule of Friendship serves as the key to all successful relationships, whether they are of short, medium or long duration. As I share with some of my coaching clients, this vital skill sounds easy, but you may be surprised how it requires practice.

Have you noticed how people gravitate toward individuals who make them happy and tend to avoid people who bring them discomfort? This seems so obvious that we assume we always act accordingly, but we don’t. What gets in the way is our own ego.

At our core, we see ourselves as important and worthy of attention. We like to impress others. But if we want to appear friendly and attractive to others, we must forgo our ego and pay attention to the other person and their needs and circumstances.

Great leaders really seem to know this: I see them make other people the focus of their attention. They balance their busy schedules and pay attention to what others want and need, rather than just focusing on their own wants and needs. This genuine interest and care is rewarded by people eager to be part of a healthy, positive relationship, open to fulfilling the leader’s wants and needs.

What do you think? Have you had different experiences making friends at work? I’d love to hear from you. Give me a call, 704-827-4474. Or, you can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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