Is the way you’re working working for you?
Is the way you’re working working for you?
“What do you do?”
While it’s not a great introductory question (Instead, try: What do you do for fun?), I understand why we ask it.
The average person spends 90,000 hours at work. That is over 30% of our life!
We have a couple of choices when it comes to how we approach that time. We can try to hustle, keep our head down, and pray for retirement, an approach I’ve seen all too often, or we can find a way to make those 90,000 hours meaningful, fulfilling, and worthy of our time and effort.
In a time when many of us seem to be reevaluating our priorities, burnout and stress are at an all-time high, and over 50% of Americans are “quiet-quitting”, it seems like the right time to rethink the way we work.
I think it’s safe to say you would rather enjoy your job than not. And yes, a good culture, great leader, clearly defined expectations, and a sound strategy are important, but there is something else that will determine your happiness and engagement at work: Your relationships.
It can be hard to make friends as adults; it can feel like an awkward obstacle course of social cues and interpersonal skills. Throw in a remote or hybrid team to the mix, and it adds another layer of complexity. But make no mistake, those friendships will impact how you feel about your job.
Here are a few common-sense, but not always common practice, ways to build relationships at work:
1. Take time to build connections
The highest performing teams spend 25% of their time talking about nothing work-related. You may think with your never-ending list of to-do’s that you don’t have time, but you don’t have time not to. Having strong connections and friendships makes people more likely to overlook mistakes and lend a helping hand when you need it.
2. Be friendly
Social psychologist and Harvard teacher Amy Cuddy found that when people meet you, they ask themselves two questions:
1. Can I trust you?
2. Can I respect you?
We spend so much time trying to prove how smart we are, that we forget people don’t care until they feel safe. While you don’t have to be BFFs with everyone you work with, a smile and friendly disposition goes a long way.
3. Find commonalities
Do you both have kids? Like the same sport? Share a love for travel? Finding commonalities provides a great foundation for building a relationship. Regardless of location, humans are humans. I don’t care where you live, how much money you make, what color you are, what religion you practice, or how you vote. We all want to feel a sense of connection and belonging and finding things we share in common is a great place to start.
4. Show up
Whether you are working remotely or in person, be deliberate about how you show up and what mood you bring to the room. Turn your camera on, put down your phone, and shut off email. Be fully present and engaged. This sounds so simple, but we spend 50% of our time thinking of something other than we are doing. This is where a mindfulness and meditation practice can be so helpful. It trains you to stay in the present moment, which also sends a signal of safety to your brain.
5. Practice gratitude
How many times have you finished a long day of work and said to yourself, “If one more person appreciates me, I quit!” I’m guessing the answer is NEVER. We all want to feel valued and appreciated. Make praise specific, consistent, and authentic.
While making friends as an adult isn’t always easy, it is so important to your mental health and well-being, especially at work.
What can you do at work to build relationships, promote a sense of belonging, and create a space (virtually or in-person) where people want to spend their time?
It’s easy to put this responsibility on leaders, and they certainly have an important role to play, but we must be responsible for how we want to spend those 90,000 hours.
Anne Grady is a Speaker, Author, and #TruthBomb Dropper.
Anne shares practical strategies that can be applied both personally and professionally to improve relationships, navigate change, and triumph over adversity. And she’ll make you laugh while she does it. Anne is a two time TEDx speaker, and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fast Company and Inc. magazines, CNN, ESPN, and FOX Business. She is the best selling author of 52 Strategies for Life, Love & Work and Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience and Triumph.