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

Dell EMC Celebrates Service Dog Maggie and How She Nurtures Her Human

5 Ways to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

During National Service Dog Month, we’ve invited a few of the canine contributors at Dell to share their insights with us on Direct2Dell – as told to their humans. Today we hear from Maggie who shared with her human Travis Peterson tips for teaching an old dog new tricks.

Hey, who are you calling old!?

I’m in my early thirties, thank you very much! Well, I’m just a little over four years old in your human years. So be careful who you call old!

Let’s start over. My name is Maggie. I am a service dog for my human, Travis. We’ve been a team for a year and a half now, but I know we were always meant to be together. Travis says it best:

“The first day we met I was having an exceedingly rough day, the lowest levels of depression that comes with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. I was in a room with others when Maggie came in. I looked up and she walked right to me, looked me in the eyes, ignoring all the others in the room. Immediately I felt a release. Just like that, Maggie helped me relax, and I felt a calm come over me.”

So that’s what I do – I help Travis cope with his heightened anxiety levels that came from his years in the military. When I sense him getting upset, I come right up to him for a snuggle, acting as a barrier between him and whatever is causing his angst. And I have to say, I’m pretty darn good at my job. In fact, Travis hasn’t needed medication for his PTSD since I came into his life. Now that’s an accomplishment!

I wasn’t always a service dog, though. In my younger years, I was actually in charge of keeping cattle in line. Things got a little hairy on that job. In fact, right before Travis and I became partners, a piece of cattle tag was found in my belly. What can I say? That cow needed to learn a lesson.

So I guess you can teach a not so old dog new tricks. I went from cattle herding to being a coping partner for Travis. Have you ever considered changing careers? Moving from one industry to another? It can be a bit daunting, so as an expert dog, let me give you some advice on how to teach an old dog new tricks:

Build on your skills and passions

Your resume may not be a laundry list of experiences within your newly chosen field, but that doesn’t mean you lack the skills to be hired and to be successful. My breed alone made me a good fit for my job as a service dog. I offer intelligence from my Labrador Retriever side and fearlessness from my Great Pyrenees side. I came into my new role knowing that I would be a good fit due to my temperament and willingness to learn. Beyond that, I just love people and I’m thrilled to have a job centered around my passion.

Be humble

Like I said, I was eager to learn, but I was also willing to be taught. You may have the passion it takes to enter your new career path, but are you willing to learn, to listen, to observe? I had to go back to school in order to land my current job with Travis. You may have been top dog in your old career, but with your new path, you may have to be a bit humble and start from the beginning.

Ask for help

Learning a new trick is overwhelming at times. When I was in school, there was so much I had to learn about humans and how to understand their feelings. They are a lot different from cows, that much I can tell you! However, when I didn’t understand, I asked for help. And I learned that people really like to help other people, but they can’t sense your feelings like I can. You have to actually ask for the help.

Be patient

The ideal job may not fall in your lap right away. You may have to sniff around at different opportunities before you find that perfect fit for the next step in your career. This is a big step; be patient, don’t rush into it!

Take the first step

It is a big step, but you are ready for it! All it takes to get started is that first step. Put yourself out there, reach out and open doors. Or, if you lack opposable thumbs like me, scratch at the door and make yourself heard and seen!

Maggie is a 110 pound Labrador Retriever/Great Pyrenees mix. She was rescued off the streets of Austin, Texas, in June 2015 and quickly deemed fit to be trained as a service dog due to her calm demeanor and intelligence. Her favorite pastimes are sleeping, eating and saying hello to everyone she meets.

Note: Dell EMC is my employer and Direct2Dell Blog will be running a post on Sabrina and me in a few days!