5 Ways to Make a Friend at Work

I remember it vividly. That day I met my best friend.

After a really long time in a dark musty container, the door to the daylight slid open and I was hysterical. All of us were yapping madly as my crate door came undone and I was led to Lisa. I was so overwhelmed with joy because I knew she was here for me, to take me home and love me.

Eight years later, I’m the one who loves to take care of her. You see, an accident in one of those cars so many of us dogs like to chase, caused permanent damage to her insides. I’m here to alert her when she needs to go to the restroom and comfort her when she suffers acute intestinal pains.

Ours is a special work relationship, but having a friend at the office is something everyone can benefit from. I overheard someone mention that something called LinkedIn did a study that found 46 percent of workers worldwide believe that work friends are important to their overall happiness.

So with that in mind, I’d like to share with you my tips for making friends at work:

1. Approach with Respect

At work I sit beneath Lisa’s desk and no one even knows I’m there. I’m quiet in her cube, but may bark when someone approaches her abruptly. The other day I barked because this nice, tall Millennial guy appeared suddenly and started talking excitedly. When working with others, it’s important to respect their space and try not to interrupt when they are busy.

2. Step Away from the Keyboard

Lisa gets so tense doing her work sometimes in front of her computer I think she will explode. In this maddening pace of what you call “digital transformation,” I beg you to remain kind to one another. Take time to say good morning to your coworkers. Sometimes I don’t hear that enough. I hear the clack clack clack of the keyboard, “elastic data platform” and the funny word Hadoop.

3. Talk About Something Other Than Work

Lisa works in Services Marketing and IT in Hopkinton and likes to watch football. Sometimes when she watches a Pat’s game the announcer says, “Look there at Brady, despite the pressure, he stays ‘soft and relaxed’ in the pocket.” So when we’re at work, I like to send her vibes of “stay soft and relaxed in the pocket” and other free-your-mind nuggets of truth. Talking about non-work things with your teammates can help you find common interests that can further friendships.

4. Find Time to Laugh

At meetings with Lisa, I sometimes gently approach certain people because I can feel how tense they are and I place my nose to their hand. Without realizing it, they begin to pet me, continue talking to everyone, and I can feel the tension melt away in their body. They just stroke and stroke. I am medicine to them, too.

I can’t be there for everyone, but laughter is also known as a great form of medicine that is free for all. So, please, laugh a little. It breaks up the intensity. Your brain will appreciate the hiccup and the tension in your body will momentarily release. Keeping the mind open frees creativity and provides learning to stick, allows for kindness with others.

5. Say Thank You

Sometime in my past, I may or may not have chewed on a copy of Shape Magazine with an article that talked about the health benefits of gratitude. To show Lisa I was thankful for rescuing me, I collapsed and rolled onto my back. She embraced my head and neck so hard I thought it might rip off. Oh, to be loved.

You may not want to show that much emotion, but being part of a team at work means that there will be times when someone takes on the lion’s share of a project or gives you assistance with your own responsibilities. Expressing an attitude of gratitude makes you both feel better and encourages more cooperation.

I’m thankful the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows me and other certified service animals to come to work at places like Dell. Lisa needs me like I needed her. Now we need each other. That’s true friendship.

Sabrina is a Labrador and Golden Retriever mix that is named for her handler’s favorite movie – the original “Sabrina” with Audrey Hepburn. Eight years after being rescued from terrible conditions, she lives happily with her human Lisa, as well as a cat and two bunnies. She is a devoted helper, a medical assist dog, that enables her human to stay on the job at Dell EMC.

“5 Ways to Make a Friend at Work” can be located on Dell’s blog here.

Related posts:

Rescue Dog to Helper Dog

Watch Sabrina days after we rescued her. She’s Just Like Heaven.

 

 

Advertisements

Rescue Dog to Helper Dog

At two years old, Lady’s ribs protruded from her coat and her belly was swollen with milk.

Like the thirteen other Labs that had arrived at a rest stop in Union, CT on the straight 12½-hour drive from Muncie, IN, she was presented to us on a crisp autumn day amid the chaos of respective adopters.

My husband Dennis had never experienced the warmth and companionship of having a dog and well, I surprised him with Lady, who we quickly renamed to Sabrina. The very afternoon we picked her up, we raced to the park, wanting her to feel the joy of freedom and play. My husband’s face lit up and while I was thrilled at the opportunity to befriend and care for Sabrina; it meant closing the 20-year gap since our beloved German Shepard from my childhood passed away.

Until laying my eyes on Sabrina’s profile, my heart couldn’t entertain loving another dog.

And what canine isn’t after the same love?

In Sabrina’s case, she couldn’t know of the family members that awaited to embrace her presence. Within days of the initial hair-raising excitement, the cat sought out occasions to groom her ears. Our pet rat was free to waddle the kitchen floor un-bothered, and the pair of bonded bunnies in want of company stretched out beside her on the living room floor.

Dog, cat, rat, rabbit?

You bet.

And Dennis and me?

Like kids again.

Sabrina settled into the folds of our lives, well-nourished and exercised in Boston’s epic snowfall in the winter of 2009-2010, taking careful watch over all of us. The fear expressed in her eyes pre-adoption disappeared.

Eight years later, she watches over me in particular. Thirty years ago, I was struck and thrown from the passenger side of a car until my abdomen collided with the steering wheel—blunt force that called for iterative repair to my digestive system and caused permanent damage to the nerves that signal my bladder is full.

Today when I’m busy working away, Sabrina will alert me to get up every couple of hours to make a trip to the restroom by gently placing her head in my lap.

When I suffer acute intestinal cramping, Crohns-like symptoms, she’ll sit at my side and lean her body against mine. Her calm and steady source of nurturing, helps me to relax and mitigates the cramps.

In 2008, the Department of Justice amended the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to include digestive, bowel and bladder impairments that limit major life activities as the disabled, calling for employers to make reasonable accommodations and if the individual elects, to allow task-oriented service animals [dog or miniature horse] to accompany them on the job.

Sabrina, serving in the capacity of a sensory/medical assist – alerting me to get up and take care of myself – qualifies.

The HR Director, Debra Susler of Reputation Institute in Cambridge, MA would not allow Sabrina to accompany me on-the-job. I sent her an elaborate email explaining my condition and Sabrina’s certification. She replied “no” not to me, but to my supervisor.

My response?

I walked out of the place.

Sabrina: rescue dog to helper dog.

Respectively, Sabrina’s competencies and understanding of language cease to astound us and her behavior on-the-job at Dell EMC is so well-mannered, coworkers never run out of compliments.

And bystanders in public? The grocery store, pharmacy, gym, dentist, doctor?

Gazes from cell phones are broken, conversations fall short.

Then, come the smiles. A question. Praise. The feel-good moment.

Sabrina brings people together.

I recently read a distressing post from a woman who said every time she looks into a service dog’s eyes, she sees sadness. Even Ingrid Newkirk, CEO and Co-Founder of PETA, has told me, “the life of a typical service dog is a terrible one.”

It’s true. Any canine enslaved to servitude is doomed a dog’s life unlived.

Service animals are working animals, not pets.

The ADA confirms it.

But that’s not the relationship Sabrina and I share [and I understand it can’t be the same with other handlers and service dogs].

And what have I learned something from Sabrina?

She shows me how to exist in the moment — just like she does. To enjoy the sight of the sun shimmering through the trees, the call of the birds, the fragrance of wildflowers, the feel of the soft soil I tread a few yards behind her when we’re on our hikes.

What more could a dog do for a girl? 

Sabrina Is Just Like Heaven.

.