Sunday, February 1, 2009

Friendships are not always reciprocal

Business Times, p.B1-2
Saturday, January 31, 2009

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, Fpm
Friendships are not always reciprocal

Shocked? Some of our friends give us guidance and motivation, while we do not. Our friends like us because we make them happy, but they do not know a single joke. Tom Rath wrote in his book, Vital Friends, that in some relationships, you and your friend will play the same roles for one another—but that is not the usual. You will have friends that play specific roles in your life while you play a different role in their life.

Here are the other vital roles our best friends forever (BFF) play in our life according to Tom. We discussed the first four roles last Saturday.

"Companions are always there for you, whatever the circumstances. You share a bond that is virtually unbreakable. When something big happens in your life—good or bad—this is one of the first people you call. At times, a true companion will even sense where you are hea­ded—your thoughts, feelings, and actions—before you know it yourself. They take pride in your relationship, and they will sacrifice for your benefit. They are the friends for whom you might literally put your life on the line. If you are searching for a friendship that can last a lifeline, look no further than a Companion.

"Connectors are bridge builders who help you get what you want. They get to know you—and then introduce you to others. These are the people you socialize with regularly. They are always inviting you to lunch, dinner, drinks, and other gatherings where you can meet new people. This extends your network dramatically and gives you access to newfound resources. When you need something—a job, a doctor, a friend, or a date—they point you in the right direction. They seem to "know everyone." If you need to get out more or simply want to widen your circle of friends or business associates, a connector can help.

"Mind Openers expand your horizons and encourage you to embrace new ideas, opportunities, cultures and people. They challenge you to think in innovative ways and help you create positive change. They know how to ask good questions, and this makes you more receptive to ideas. When you are around them, you are unguarded and express opinions aloud, especially controversial ones that you might not be comfortable sharing with other friends. They broaden your perspective on life and make you a better person. If you need to challenge the conventional wisdom or shake up the status quo, spend a few hours talking with a Mind Opener.

"Navigators give you advice and keep you headed in the right direction. You go to them when you need guidance and they talk through the pros and cons with you until you find an answer. In difficult situations, you need them by your side. They help you see a positive future while keeping things grounded in reality. Any time you're at a crossroads and need help making a decision, you can look to them. They help you know who you are—and who you are not. They are the ideal friends to share your goals and dreams with; when you do, you will continue to learn and grow. When you ask Navigators for direction, they help you reach your destination."

At work, there is one kind of friend you do not like to keep—your bellyache buddy. Your friendship with them is based on a mutual hatred for the boss or the management. Your conversations with this "friend" usually revolve around complaining and venting.

Tom said, "There are real risks when it comes to workplace friendships. A close friendship is inherently more complex than a superficial one. When people form tight-knit social groups at work, it can alienate others, who might become jealous and complain of cliques. And the closer two people get in the workplace, the more potential fallout if things go awry. The situation gets even more complicated when friendships turn romantic, especially if one party in the relationship is in a position of authority. However, according to recent studies, the potential upside of friendships on the job could dramatically outweigh the possible disadvantages.

"If you have a best friend at work, you are significantly more likely to engage your customers, get more done in less time, have fun on the job, have a safe workplace with fewer accidents, innovate and share new ideas, feel informed and know that your opinions count and have the opportunity to focus on your strengths each day."

This subject is getting more and more exciting. Let's revisit it next Saturday.

Moje is a management consultant on organizational and personal learning. Visit her blog at www.learningandinno or email her at innova

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