On April Fool’s Day a few years ago, I “tendered” my registration.
I put the word tendered within quotation marks because I wasn’t really resigning. Rather, it was an office-wide attempt to pull a prank on our boss on April Fool’s Day and let’s just say, we got him really good. When the time came to reveal to him that it took a whole week for his team to set him up for this prank, he said he felt both betrayed and proud. Betrayed because he did not pick up that we were on to something. Proud because he has taught us well.
Up until this day, that April Fool’s Day prank in 2013 still counted as one for the books. Even when we don’t all work together anymore now, when we get the chance to get together, we still like to tell and retell the story and we laugh a lot about it just the same.
Whenever I think about that memory, it makes me feel really grateful that I was able to experience being part of a team who not only knew how to work excellently but also how to have fun and build deeply relationally.
Having been part of this team for seven years, I learned that the workplace shouldn’t be this boring, serious, and overly busy space.
Yes, there are days when it is needed for us to drive ourselves hard because there are responsibilities and deadlines waiting to be done. But because the workplace is a space where people of different backgrounds come together for one mission, it is also a space where you don’t just get colleagues; they become your partners, allies, and mentors.
And if you’re fortunate enough—really good, genuine friends. Friends in your workplace who give you more reason and motivation to keep coming back the next morning even when sometimes the work itself is tough.
It is healthy and good for us to build genuine friendships with the people we work with. And in many years of joining different teams, here are a few kinds of workplace friends that I hope you find for yourself or that you become someone at your workplace.
The Work Break Buddy
It is always a good idea to take a break and stand up from your desk during a long-day’s work. Sometimes to stretch, sometimes to take a walk to the toilet, and sometimes to grab a bite or a coffee to drink. And the best ones to do it with? The work break buddy.
Work break buddies are the ones who keep you company when you need to take a breather from your hectic schedule. They are the ones who remind you that you need to eat or the ones who join you when you need to get that caffeine kick. They don’t just make sure you are well-fed, well-caffeinated, and well-hydrated, they also come with stories to share and refreshing conversations to exchange in those couple of minutes off your desk.
The Shock Absorber
Let’s be honest. There are bad days at work. Some weeks, more bad days than we would’ve liked to have. Work sometimes could be emotionally and mentally draining. A project that failed. A presentation that flopped. A colleague that was difficult to deal with. When all these happen, it helps to have a safe space to process these things with. Someone you can vent to, someone who will listen.
Our shock absorbers. Thank God for people like them in our workplace. Friends who are kind enough to take the first wave of your unprocessed emotions and catch whatever kind of reactions you throw at them. Friends who are a reminder that you don’t have to have it all together to be loved and accepted.
The balancers weren’t necessarily the first people we wanted to hang out with in the office. You are an introvert, they are extroverts. You are intense, they are chill. You like a rigid schedule, they like to take their time. But you eventually see as you continue to work with them day in and day out that you need them in your life. They complement your strengths. They fill in your weaknesses. They put a balance in your life.
Your shock absorber friends may make you feel affirmed with what you feel, but your balancer friend gives you a different perspective.
The balancers teach us to celebrate our differences and that we don’t have to be good at the same things in order to be friends.
For the many times we’ve thought about quitting and giving up at work, the encouragers are there to remind us to take it one day at a time. They are the reason why you are still holding on and staying the course. They lift our spirits up, they give us sound advice, they cheer us on when we feel like giving up.
I mean, what would we do without the encouragers in our lives?
The mentors are friends who are a few steps ahead of you. They carry wisdom learned through time. They are friends you respect and look up to so much because of the impartation and influence they have in your life. They were the ones who made you feel better the first time you made a major mistake. Or when you had to make a difficult decision at work. They speak into your life, believe in you, and invest time to teach and impart.
These are friends who you want to always be around. They light up the room when they walk in. They are instigators of fun and are reasons why you still laugh even in the midst of a deadline. They bring in the fun, the life, and the joy in the workplace.
Joy-sparkers are those who remind us to not take everything at work too seriously and that we shouldn’t forget to have fun. Yes, we will work hard and excellently, but they make sure we also make time for play—like maybe pulling a prank on April Fool’s Day.
Do you have these friends in the workplace? Are you one of these friends to others in your workplace?