Call it the Great Camaraderie Conundrum. Research indicates 80 percent of us are spending more time with co-workers than family. Yet research also indicates that workplace pressures are causing fewer people to form fast friendships.

Now to make it more vexing: New research indicates the power of camaraderie goes beyond the known benefits of better creativity, resiliency, and productivity, and extends into greater life longevity.

Um, that's important.

I've covered how to foster camaraderie in a past column.  Given the astounding new research, I'm doubling down on this in my new book, Find the Fire, and right here with eight ways to build better bonds.

1. Create a shared purpose.

Studies show soldiers form the strongest bonds during missions when they believe in the missions' purpose.

Rally around your team's purpose. If one hasn't been articulated, do so.  Ensure goals that accompany the purpose are specific and clear.  A compelling purpose plus clear goals equals a galvanizing force.

2. Don't underestimate the power of trust and truth.

Trust and truth are intertwined.  A foundation of trust encourages truth being spoken, and continually speaking the truth further strengthens trust.  Both are crucial for camaraderie.

Lean forward and show your trust in others, be trustworthy yourself, and role model speaking and accepting the truth, always.

3. Respect the power of respect.

Respect at work is not a given.

Research indicates that employees rank "respectful treatment" as the single most important factor for job satisfaction.  Sadly, this was also the area of greatest disparity between what employees valued most and their level of satisfaction.

Go beyond getting to know co-workers to unearthing more reasons to genuinely respect them. Then practice showing respect daily.

And you don't have to become lifetime besties with everyone. Research shows that just one interaction underscored with trust and respect can generate enough energy from both parties to transform transaction-based interactions into a relationship.

4. Increase your click quotient.

Some of us have a greater natural ability to "click" with others (connect and rapidly establish rapport).  Psychologist Mark Snyder calls such people "high self-monitors" and found that they're social chameleons.  Snyder says:

"Without even realizing it, they adapt their personalities, behavior, and attitudes to fit the people around them. They pick up subtle social cues and tailor their responses to the situation."

I'm not suggesting that you alter who you are with each social encounter.

It's about being authentic and adaptable. Always draw from your portfolio of authentic characteristics (dialing them up or down as needed) and occasionally employ socially savvy behaviors.

5. Practice "cut the cord" communication.

Stephen Marsar, a captain in the Fire Department City of New York, believes in developing camaraderie among firefighters (for obvious reasons). He insists firefighters talk to each other during firehouse meals--it's called a firehouse for a reason, according to Marsar.

So he has instituted a "cut the cord" communication policy--no devices, nothing with a cord, (no i-anything) at dinner. 

Just i-present.

Carry this into your relationships.  Put down the device, or turn the one off in your head, and just listen. Ask questions. Respond. Connect.

6. Be vulnerable.

Being vulnerable increases trust and relatability.

One study paired strangers up, placed them in one of two groups, and then gave each group a set of different questions to discuss. One group chatted over trivial questions, like "What did you do over the holiday?" while the other discussed deeper, more revealing topics, like "What are your most treasured memories?"

The pairs in the latter group quickly formed deep connections. Two of these test subjects even got married. That's connecting.

7. Exude care and compassion.

Care enough about your cohorts to be interested in them. Care what they think, notice and remember things about them, root for them and enjoy their successes, and just do something nice for them. 

Be compassionate enough to be inclusive to all and to make it okay for anyone to be vulnerable and make mistakes.

8. Emit high-energy and high-inquiry.

Exude positive energy that draws others to you.  Eight-year-old children instinctively have a sense for this--they know who/who not to invite to their birthday parties based on the type of energy the other eight-year-old brings. 

So, believe me, your co-workers have an opinion on if they want you around or not.  Positive, authentic energy puts you on the invite list (as does owning a boat).

And be inquisitive--about them and about how you can add value to their lives.

So not only will you live longer when applying this advice, you'll live deeper. And some depth to counter how thinly stretched you are is just what the doctor ordered.

Published on: Oct 18, 2017
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