Want to be the best at what you do? Here’s one way how (Blog #30)

Friends together enjoying coffee

If you’ve been following me from the beginning you would’ve heard me stress more than once that genuine friendships are a must in the workplace for many reasons. Just to refresh your memory you can find those blog posts here –

“I don’t need to be friends with the people I work with.” Wrong! Yes, you do! (Blog #4)

Why friendships at work matter – what every beginner should know (Blog #16)

But today I want to talk to you about the importance of it simply for your own development. Yep, if you want to get good at what you do you need to have people in your corner that you respect and that will tell you the bloody truth.

If for nothing else, just to be able to tell you that “Hey, everyone hates your guts and you need to do something about it as people are starting to wish you dead.”

And if you think I’m exaggerating then think again. Never underestimate how vicious it can get in the corporate world. And needing to hear the truth is essential for your own development.

And as you know I’m full of examples and here’s one for you.

One of my managers in a past job showed two types of management styles. She was either really nice or a complete asshole. No middle ground. And at one point she was in asshole mode for quite a bit. So I decided to be proactive and confronted her about it. And I told her a number of things and it went something like this…

“I don’t appreciate how you speak/lash out at me.”

“I’m finding it very difficult to work with you.”

“I feel very uncomfortable speaking to you and I don’t enjoy working with you.”

I couldn’t believe her reaction.

She completely shut down. She couldn’t even look me in the eye and just kept on saying “Ok, ok.”

I wanted to hash things out. To get over the awkwardness so we could focus on the work and she completely shut down. There was no attempt to dive deeper or to tell me her side. It was almost like no one had ever been that honest with her. My attempt of bringing us closer together had failed as she wasn’t capable of working through an honest conversation.

Is it possible to make it to almost 20 years in the corporate world without ever having a candid conversation with a colleague?

Yes, it is.


Because this is where companies are failing. From my experience and based on research done, companies don’t believe there is a need for the development of close friendships among their employees that allow for these honest conversations. Despite what research has proven.

All you have to do is pick up Keith Ferrazzi’s book “Who’s Got Your Back” and within the first hour of reading it you’ll discover facts that if you think about it are quite obvious. Such as:

  • The best way for teams to work better together is through the development of close friendships which Ferrazzi often refers to as lifelines. When these friendships are developed people are more happy and honest, more prepared to take risks and with this comes better ideas and better work¹.
  • Ferrazzi also mentions a Harvard Business Study from November 2007 titled “Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams” and guess what it concludes? You want to develop a kick-ass team? Then you better make sure they’ve become each other’s besties or the team is going to be average at best².

Sure, you may still get a team that’s decent, but it’s not going to be fantastic. And why would any company want to settle for anything less than fantastic?

Blog Tip #30 – Recognise the importance of friendships at work by doing your own research. And just to start you off check out Keith Ferrazzi’s book “Who’s Got Your Back” and make sure you’re on the right path to developing those lifelines.

How would you describe your experience working in teams? How close was your relationship with your teammates? How candid were your conversations? How successful were the outcomes?

Tell me about it by leaving a comment below.

 If you have any friends or colleagues that would benefit from this blog post – please share it!

Let me share with you all the things I wish someone told me 10 years ago about the corporate world – subscribe to 10 Years and 9 Jobs today!

Talk to you next week.


¹²³Keith Ferrazzi, “Who’s Got Your Back”, 2009.

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