How your non-work mates help you love your job

Has there ever been a better sitcom than The Golden Girls? OK, wrong question. I’ll rephrase. Has there ever been a better sitcom that showcases the power and beauty of strong friendships than The Golden Girls? I reckon not. It’s a message proclaimed loudly even in the catchy theme song: “thank you for being a friend”.

There’s another reason, beyond the benefits of companionship and solidarity, for being thankful of friends and that’s the way they make you happier at work. I’m not referring to friends at work, though that always helps. I’m referring to friends outside of work whose influence, you might be surprised to learn, extends beyond your social life and into the confines of your workplace.

Research suggests it’s your friends outside work that can have the biggest impact on performance. Credit:iStockphoto

Which is interesting when considering the extent to which we sacrifice friendships, or at least the time we spend with friends, because of the extended hours we’re devoting to work. Just last week I was remarking to a colleague that I’m content with only one social engagement per week. But according to research due to be published next month, that is evidently not enough.

In an initial study of more than 700 respondents, the scholars from George Mason University analysed the impact that friends, as opposed to family, have on self-esteem and wellbeing. Friends came out “substantially” on top because to be someone’s mate is a voluntary act, unlike our family who we rarely get to choose.


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