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Work is hard. It is even harder when you have to do it alone. Of course you have co-workers and maybe the occasionally acquaintance you talk to every once in awhile, but is it possible to have friends at work? Not only is it possible, it is necessary. Many people succeed or fail based on the support they have from their friends at work.
 
In Tom Rath's book, Vital Friends: The People You Can't Afford to Live Without, his research shows that employees who have a best friend in the office are more productive, more likely to engage positively with customers, share new ideas and stay longer in a job. Simply put, doing your work with friends will make you happier and more efficient.
 
My goal is that this post will do two things:
1. Identify some key individuals in your work place that are vital to your success.
2. Identify the key attributes that a friend at work can provide and how you can reciprocate.

 
Behind the scenes there are people that work tirelessly to ensure you are able to do your job. Do you know them? Do you go out of your way to support them? Do these people want to help you and want you to succeed? These people include but are not limited to:

The janitorial staff

The IT guy 
 
The Trainer (if you are a coach)
 
Your partner, co-worker or assistant coach
 
When developing relationships with these essential people you will need to do the following:

  • Get to know their name(s)
  • Exchange contact information
  • Systematically go out of your way to ask them how they are doing personally
  • Find out how you can serve them
  • Know how to talk with them. This person is not your therapist – refrain from venting your sorrows and frustrations to him or her. Learn how to talk to each person or group. How do they communicate best?  
  • Meet them in their workplace or home turf and spend time with them
  • Take them to a meal and spend time together outside of work when appropriate.

Here are 6 key friendships at work that will help you with your mission at work and in life:

1. A Motivator/Coach

This person pushes you, inspires you, challenges you, and keeps you accountable.

2. A Partner

He or she works alongside you, shares interests and the workload.

3. A Therapist

This person listens to you, gives sound advice, and asks good challenging questions.

4. A Fan

He or she sings you praises, supports you, keeps you encouraged, and helps you keep the big vision in focus.

5. A Fraternity Brother

This person is your fun friend. You laugh with each other, play games, do recreational activities together (for fun and to blow off steam). Very little, serious conversation is needed.

6. Your Think Tank

This person brainstorms with you, shares your vision, helps you set strategic objectives, and keeps you grounded and calm.

Do you have these people in your life? Have you sought them out in your workplace? Chances are, they are there and waiting to help. What kind of person are you to those around you? Be friendly and have a positive work environment where you can call your coworkers your friends.

"Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labor. If the one falls, the other will lift up his companion. Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up. 
 
— Ecclesiastes 4:9-10