Relationships are vital for your long-term happiness. In fact, psychologists say healthy relationships could be the most important factor in determining happiness. This is because we have a strong biological need for connection and belonging. Interestingly, both strong and weak relationships matter. Research shows that your interactions with deep connections (such as our friends and family), as well as with loose connections (such as strangers or acquaintances), both contribute to your happiness and feeling like part of a community. The quality of your relationships can even affect your health and memory.
This is also true of your relationships at work, where it is estimated you will spend one-third of your life! Despite professional relationships being critical to feeling happy at work, many people choose not to invest in those relationships. The results are devastating. Most people have five or less friends at work and admit to feeling lonely and disengaged. In some studies, they found most people are unhappy at work, and up to 70 percent of employees are not engaged in the work they do. The fact that we are increasingly spending more time at work as a society makes these statistics even more concerning as your work life can have a huge impact on your overall happiness.
However, you can increase your work-life happiness by improving your workplace relationships. Who you work with and the quality of those relationships can be just as important, if not more important, than the type of work you’re doing. If you feel supported by co-workers and managers, you will be less stressed, more creative, and better able to handle difficult situations. Also, you will be more productive. In fact, your productivity increases by 12% on average (and can increase by as much as 20 percent) when you are happy. As a result, happy people are more successful in their careers. On average, happy people earn more and have better positions.
So, how do you improve your work relationships to become happier at work?
Make a conscious effort to get to know your coworkers on a personal level. Plan a lunch, coffee or spend a few extra minutes chatting in the break room. Whether you’re socializing professionally or personally, research indicates that an additional hour of socializing can increase your chances of having a good day! You can also improve your social interactions with co-workers through cooperation and empathy. Even if you disagree with a co-worker, showing you have empathy for their position allows you to connect with them in a positive way. Empathy leads to cooperation, which psychologists have found to be a predictor of happiness!
Not all work relationships need to be deep, but it is important to develop a few friendships at work. A good way to start is through self-disclosure. A study found that without self-disclosure, people still feel lonely despite having people they consider to be their friends. Take your work friendship to the next level by opening up about yourself. You may be surprised at how much closer and happier you will feel as a result, and it will encourage your co-workers to open up to you. Relationships are critical for long-term happiness, both in your personal life and at work. As a society, we spend more time at work than ever before, so we must invest time and energy into workplace relationships. Improve your relationships at work by socializing more, cooperating with others, and opening up. These actions will lead to positive relationships at work, which will impact your overall happiness, career success, and well-being.