Is the way you’re working working for you?

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.

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Read that again. 🙌 ...

I played piano from the time I was four years old until the age of 15 and during that time, I had a lot of recitals. I remember being so nervous before each recital. What if I played the wrong note? What if I forgot the music? My dad would look at me, hold my hands, and say:

Whatever you do, DO NOT think of pink elephants!!

At the time, I had no idea why in the world he would say this. All I do know is that when I sat down to play, all I saw were pink elephants, and I was able to tackle my nerves.

Turns out my dad was helping me to practice the ironic process theory which explains that when we try to suppress our thoughts, we focus on them even more. Seventy to 80% of our thoughts are negative and repetitive. If not managed, intrusive thoughts can lead to anxiety, depression, and a whole host of mental health challenges.

If you tend to get stuck in rumination, or if your thoughts sometimes get the best of you, here are a few ways to take back control:

1️⃣ Recognize that your thoughts are not facts.
2️⃣ Use your brain. Do a math problem, practice a different language, or play a puzzle game. When you access the prefrontal cortex, the higher level thinking part of your brain, you get out of the emotional limbic system.
3️⃣ Distract yourself. Sometimes a simple distraction gives you enough distance to quiet your intrusive thoughts.
4️⃣ Practice mindfulness.
5️⃣ See a therapist. When negative, intrusive thoughts impact your ability to do your job, maintain relationships, or start clouding your judgment, it may be time to get help. As someone with plenty of intrusive thoughts, therapy has helped me tremendously.

Don’t forget, your thoughts and feelings are not facts. They are simply habits that need to be shifted. Be patient with yourself, and if all else fails, whatever you do, DO NOT THINK OF PINK ELEPHANTS!

Pets provide a deep sense connection and unconditional love. I don’t know what I’d do without without these two nut jobs! Happy National Love Your Pet Day! ❤️🐶 #mindfulmonday #mindfulness #petsnuggles #ilovemydogs #petsofinstagram #nationalloveyourpetday ...

I hope your Friday includes donuts. 🍩 ...

Midweek reminder: Reset your mindset. 🧠 ...


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.

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