How busy people can build close friendships
Ideas to help busy people find time and energy for close friendships outside of work and family.
First published on CEOWorld Magazine on 7 June 2019.
The demands of a busy senior business role do not allow much time or energy for close relationships outside immediate family. This is one of the reasons that Dr Vivek Murthy, former US Surgeon General, has stated there is a “loneliness epidemic” that is a more significant health issue than cancer, heart disease or obesity. He states that social isolation is “associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
In response to this issue, the British government appointed Tracey Crouch as the first Minister for Loneliness in 2018. In 21st century Western society, many people feel isolated from any sense of belonging to meaningful community.
After we have done all we feel we need to do at work, and then tried to be a good partner and parent, there is very little real ‘friend time’ left.
Understanding relationship spaces
In our lives, we usually have the following relationship spaces: immediate family (includes partner, children and ageing parents), wider family, close friends, friends, work colleagues and acquaintances. Without being too anal, it is important that we understand into which relationship space people around us fit. Family can be complicated, but they are not the focus of this article. A close friend is someone to whom you have a level of personal commitment and a desire to socialise with regularly outside of work.
We all want to be inclusive and have harmonious work relationships. However, we can include people in the wrong relationship spaces, which can create all kinds of tensions and misunderstandings. For example, the awkwardness when a work colleague who thinks they are a close friend invites you to a social event outside of work and you realise you really do not want to go.
The people you spend the most time with at work may grow to become close friends, but only if you develop a mutually beneficial relationship that moves beyond the workplace.
So how do we make this happen in the midst of our busy lives?
Click here to read the full article including the 7 elements of an effective daily routine.