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