Fostering and developing friendships at work can’t be forced, but there are tried and tested ways of helping bonds to form.
Discuss as a team what spaces you have in your work flows to regularly connect as human beings - with families, passions and pastimes. What could help friendships form and strengthen in your team and organization?
Use Slack, your intranet or other collaboration channels to share links to books, articles, and podcasts you find funny and inspiring. You’ll learn a little more about your colleagues and build a "go-to" library of great things to try whenever you are in need of some positive distraction. This can be especially good for remote and home workers who miss out on the serendipitous chats at the water cooler in the office.
We wear a lot of hats in life - and the professional role is usually more formal than most. We get to know each other when we can connect as people, not just colleagues. Parties or shared experiences - like the theatre, a quiz, and fundraisers – create collective memories which bind us together.
We often want to acknowledge a colleague who has been especially diligent about their work. But we rarely take a moment to think about who supports them to work harder, longer or in a more focused way. We all stand on the shoulders of giants - reward people with a voucher to dine out so that they can share that thank you with those outside of work who help and support them.
How often do we start a conversation with a ""how are you?"" and reply with a stock response ""fine"" or ""okay"". These stock responses take away our opportunity to connect with one another pretty quickly. Try sharing how you really feel in that moment.
We have such a rich array of emotions and such a small ""go-to"" emotional vocabulary. We can feel excited, disappointed, inspired, proud, gregarious, introverted, up-beat, in awe, angry, content, sad, confused, anxious, happy... and we say ""fine"".
The question is an invitation - and we should take our conversation partner up on the invitation to check in with how we feel in that moment - and share that feeling. Give them a status update! Tell them how you feel on a 1-5 happiness scale, if you like ;)
Similarly, when we ask a straightfoward ""how are you?"" it's easy to invite the stock response. If we contextualize a little more, we often get more back. Try ""Given how yesterday went, how you feeling today?"" or ""Hiya, what's the latest with you - what feels good, what doesn't?"" Or come up with a conversation opener that's altogether more novel and personalized!
So often we are preoccupied with how frequently we meet or set eyes on each other, but we also know from the time spent with our very best friends that an enriching conversation can carry us for months!