No one knows better than Michael Scott about the importance of friendships! Friends joke with one another, right? (Maybe not so much about each other’s financial situation and mother’s health.) What we do know is that humor can be the penicillin for all bad situations. It’s especially important for the workplace. Between delivering results, meeting goals, getting along with unpleasant coworker (or even worse, bosses), we don’t often leave a whole lot of mental energy to check on our sanity. Having the right kind of friends is the quickest way to maintain sanity in your work life. Here are friend types of friends that help you stay happy and sane at work.
1. The fellow victim
When you spend eight hours a day, five days a week at any place, there will be times and people that make you wish you weren’t there. Whether it be a last-minute project that lands on your plate because no one wanted to touch it, a grumpy coworker that has no boundary and holds your ears hostage for conversations you do not wish to have, or a sadistic boss that has no respect for your time — these are moments when it makes things so much better if someone else is suffering with you. Actually, it’s not as much that the other person is also suffering, but that you aren’t alone in dealing with this misfortune.
You see, trying to explain what’s going on at work to someone else, such as a significant other, a family member, or a close friend, is like trying to sing a song through humming — it takes someone familiar with the issues to get it 100%. If you have a fellow co-worker who is going through the same exact issues as you are, a camaraderie automatically forms and you have an instant alliance. That alone sometimes is the key to reducing perceived pain and difficulty caused by a particular work situation.
2. The sarcastic one
Along the same line as having a fellow victim, you need a sarcastic friend who isn’t afraid of being bitchy sometimes (towards your common enemy, not you). I should caveat this by saying that this has to be a sarcastic bitch who has a lot of empathy. This whole dynamic works based on her or his understanding of your situation and willingness (or natural tendency) to bitch at whatever or whoever is causing you pain at work. Simply put, this person is an active practitioner of empathy. We all know how venting works. It’s most effective when someone else is not only agreeing but chiming in. It’s also been proven in studies that empathy in the workplace makes us happier and more productive.
3. The strategic mentor
If having the first two kinds of friends is how you deal with adverse situations passively, the strategic mentor is how you deal with the situations proactively. Once you’ve vented and moved on from the heat of the moment, it’s time to think about how to prevent the situation from occurring again, or how to deal with it better next time. Sure, more likely than not, what is within your power to improve the situation may be minimal, but this is where a strategic mentor comes in. A strategic mentor is, hopefully, someone a bit more seasoned than you are in the workforce, knows you well, has your benefit at heart, and isn’t afraid to tell you the truth. You need this person to analyze the situation for you with as little bias as possible. The best outcome in talking to a strategic mentor about an adverse situation at work is that you come out of it 1) feeling less bitter because you know you’re not at fault, or 2) feeling secure and comfortable in knowing how to prevent the situation again or how you need to improve in order to avoid such an event from happening again.
4. The cat/dog lover or bearer of good food
There are a few things in life that put you in instant nirvana. Puppies, kittens, and good food are three of such things. Studies have shown that looking at puppies and kitten actually lowers blood pressure. If you’re a cat lover and you happen to have a coworker who is also a cat lover, the cat talk is so therapeutic on an otherwise busy and stressful workday. The occasional cute puppy/kitten GIFs that come through your email may have the same effects. Similarly, the ambiance of the entire office space can be lifted by a box of baked goods, a plate of lunch to be shared by the group, or a bag of freshly harvested lemons from someone’s backyard. Don’t underestimate such little joys in life and the people that make them happen — they are increasing the quality of your work life without your conscious awareness.
There you have it. The four kinds of friends at work that will keep you sane and make your work life better. If you already have these four friends, congratulations! Get them a nice token of appreciation when the next holiday comes around. If you don’t have these four friends, it’s time to start paying attention. I suggest trailing the smell of donuts next time you sense them at work. Find out who brought them, and chat up that person!
Jessica is the writer behind the personal style blog Cubicle Chic. In her early twenties, she has contemplated many career paths, such as a novelist, a physician assistant, a research scientist, a court translator (English to Mandarin Chinese), and a clinical research specialist. Eventually, she found her passion in marketing communications for life science companies. She continues to cultivate her interest and skills in many other fields, such as writing, career development, and self-improvement, and hopes to help others do the same.
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