On this “Ask Katrina,” the question is:
I want to make friends at work so that I have someone to collaborate with, vent to, etc. How do I make work friends in the most professional way?
When we reach a certain level or position of authority, sometimes it can be hard to make work friends.
When we first make it to a leadership role, we make friends because we are stressed and want to feel like we are in this thing with someone else.
However, through our promotion or theirs, we quickly realize that it can be challenging to make friends.
The person you relied on the most during your first few years of management could either be your supervisor or you theirs.
Throw in a couple of situations where you shared something personal, something confidential, or maybe even something embarrassing that others found out about, and you become a bit more guarded in your friendships at work.
Too much is at risk!
At the same time, we need close friends/peers around us so that we can be “real.” We need to be able to bring our whole selves to work, and while that whole person isn’t always who we want others to see, we believe we must have at least one person we can show the not-so-perfect side to and still have them stick around and support us at work.
So how do you make this happen at the executive level?
Making Work Friends As an Exec
The first action to take when making work friends as an executive is to find others you truly believe you can relate to.
Remember, you’re making a professional/personal relationship here, so you do need to find someone you would be willing to befriend out in the real world.
Then grab some lunch, share some time away from work meetings, and test the waters.
Share something that is not 100% work-related and see how it goes.
Do they share your same views? Did they provide helpful feedback? Did they keep your conversation confidential?
All of those questions must be answered before you can create a work friendship you feel safe in.
Remember this, if your “new potential friend” pushed back on you during your conversation, challenged you, and didn’t let you sit with executes, that’s not a bad person to have in your life.
Quite frankly, that’s an ideal professional friend!
What If I Can’t Make Work Friends?
What if you’re the only person at that senior level? What if you have tried your hand at making work friends in your role and it just hasn’t worked out?
The reality is that it may not work out. You may not feel 100% comfortable being vulnerable with any person you work with as a means of building a true friendship.
If that’s the case, don’t be too hard on yourself.
You can always have surface-level friendships that simply allow you to have enough rapport and trust to move the business forward.
At that point, you should look externally for a work confidant.
A coach, strategist, or group program of like-minded peers would all be a solution for you if you do not have anyone around you that could be a friend, or even if you do not want to mix friendships and working relationships.
If you are interested in getting support from a group of like-minded women, connect with us here at Legend Leaders and we will tell you more about joining us!