Friendship is in the News!
Shasta Nelson, M.Div., is the Founder of GirlFriendCircles.com. Her calling is “to bring women together and teach them how to create frientimacy–friendship intimacy– in their lives. Her work has found that frientimacy improves women’s health, increases their longevity, and fills their lives with the happiness and peace.” Nelson’s Circles of Connectedness model categorizes our different types of friendships. It helps us to honor different types of friendships and find pathways for deepening friendships.
In addition, the New York Times recently wrote about the challenges of making new friends in middle age. The Times reports on how women are using social media to create face to face meetings and gatherings.
Despite all our social media, there is a longing for authentic connection in women’s professional and personal lives. Gallup’s research on employee engagement has repeatedly shown a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job. This holds true for men and women but particularly women. For example, women who strongly agree they have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged (63%) compared with the women who say otherwise (29%).
Because the social aspect of work is so important to women, Gallup also conducted a “study comparing the behaviors and attitudes of women who strongly agree they have a best friend at work with those who do not strongly agree.” They discovered that women who strongly agree with the item are:
- less likely to be actively looking or watching for job opportunities
- more connected with their coworkers, knowing what is expected of them and trusting their integrity and ethics
- more likely to rate their own, their team’s and their organization’s performance more excellently
- more likely to take risks that could lead to innovation
- more likely to have a positive experience during the day, such as enjoying what they do, making more progress and getting recognized for successes
- less likely to report having a negative experience during the day such as worry, stress and feeling tired.
The research is compelling. Of course, there are suggested ground rules for managing healthy boundaries for friendship at work. We’ve heard plenty of stories of poorly managed boundaries at work. Yet, the message here is rather refreshing and hopeful. Women are longing for friendships in and out of work and they are creating structures to make it happen.
If we know that 1) Friendship at work enhances engagement and 2) Friendship outside of work increases happiness and health, what muscles do we need to develop? How do we make it happen?
How might we create the conditions for healthy, inclusive friendships so men and women can thrive at work and in their communities?