Canadian Lawyer

August 2023

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 47 of 51

46 FEATURE RELATIONSHIPS misinterpret their intent, which leads to distrust, disagreement, and unproductive competitive behaviour. None of which help to build a collaborative and productive workplace. Building engagement In his book Vital Friends: The People You Can't Afford to Live Without, Tom Rath outlines research that shows that employees who have best friends at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. Additionally, if they have at least three vital friends at work, they are 96 percent more likely to be satisfied with their lives. SOME LEADERS believe that if a work environment is too collegiate, people will stop challenging each other, and ideas won't be debated. However, combative environments in which a dominant person subjugates the opinions of others and is unfriendly and highly politicized can be destructive. The damage to employees' mental health and well-being from working in such an environment is well known. Workplaces are complex environments, bringing together a melting pot of people with varying ideas, assumptions, experiences, expectations, and ambitions. It's about finding the balance between too much friendship and not enough collegiality. If you want an engaged and productive w o r k p l a c e i n w h i c h e m p l o y e e s constructively challenge and go beyond the norm, consider how you nurture and encourage healthy friendships. Fostering collaboration Our brain quickly assesses whether it sees someone as a "friend" or "foe." It sizes someone up and judges whether a person is "in my tribe" or "outside my tribe." The brain then processes the information we receive from that person according to which category we've put them in. What this means in practice is that if two people are saying the same thing to us, and one person is considered a "foe" and the other person a "friend," we will interpret what they are saying differently. It's like giving someone the benefit of the doubt. We will do that for a friend, but not for a foe. If you see other people as "foes" in the workplace, you are more likely to Organizations often talk about culture but rarely consider the role friendships play in creating a healthy, dynamic, and productive work environment, says Michelle Gibbings Why friendships are important at work Our brain quickly assesses whether it sees someone as a 'friend' or 'foe.' It sizes someone up and judges whether a person is 'in my tribe' or 'outside my tribe'

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