Children Should Not Have Best Friends

By Morag Barrett on May 13, 2013

Posted by Morag Barrett | May 13, 2013Children Should Not Have Best FriendsI recently read an article in The Daily Telegraph that stated that “Children Should Not Have Best Friends.” It immediately caught my eye as I am in the process of writing a book (publish date Nov 2013) about the importance of professional relationships at work, and especially Ally Relationships (best friends).All the research I have completed, as well as my personal experience has shown that having at least one best friend at work has huge benefits, both for the company (profitability, engagement, customer retention) and for the individual (lower stress, increased learning and growth).In Vital Friends (Rath, 2006) Tom Rath talks about the “Three Friend Threshold.” His research found that people with at least three close friends at work were 96% more likely to be extremely satisfied with their life. The research then went on to discover that people would rather have a best friend at work than a 10% pay raise—relationships matter!If these benefits are so readily apparent in a work environment, surely there are similar benefits to be gained by having a best friend at school.  Someone to confide in when you are feeling uncertain or having a bad day; someone who can help coach you with  a difficult homework assignment; someone to have lunch with and to play with.  Ultimately I see having best friends at school as important to enhancing performance at school and to developing interpersonal skills, learning resilience, influencing and coping strategies that are invaluable in the adult world.“Best Friends” will happen, mandating that they shouldn’t will be unlikely to change that fact.  I recall from my school years a small group of us who were “best friends” – those friendships changing weekly around the age of 13.  It was an important period of development.  While I accept that an obsessive relationship with one person may be detrimental, saying that we need to be friends with everyone is equally so.Since we spend over half our waking hours at work, and with our working lives lasting for 40 years or more, we had better hope we have fun at work, look forward to going to the office, and enjoy working with our colleagues. In the best scenario, the relationships we encounter day after day are those that leave us energized and enthusiastic for the future—a workforce of engaged people working together rather than against each other. Related ArticlesTags »Cultivating Winning RelationshipsTeam activitiesWorking with difficult people Share
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