The Power of Music and Friends at Work.

Man holding a guitar against an orange sunset

Last night, as Morag was soaking up the sublime sounds and music of Vivaldi, something unexpected happened. The audience erupted into spontaneous applause, interrupting the flow of the music and the concentration of the musicians. It was a powerful moment that highlighted the importance of having friends at work.

As I watched the musicians on stage, I could see the genuine connection they shared as they paused, made eye contact, and smiled at each other while waiting for the applause to die down. It was a clear sign that they were there for each other, not just as colleagues, but as friends.

Making music with your friends at work

In that moment I was transported from the concert hall to the valuable insights from our new book ‘You, Me, We,’ which explores why having strong relationships at work is crucial and how you can cultivate ally relationships. Here’s what we share in You, Me, We (you’ll find this on pages 59 – 60. The photos are bonus content for you!)

“Demonstrating an Ally Mindset is not about perfection every single day in all five of the practices. It’s about always striving to do your best—o chip away at your negatives and incrementally do more of your positives. It’s about understanding who you are at the core (me); your natural preferences, the context in which you are leading, and your relationships (you); and when and where to turn the dial up or down on each practice to ensure mutual success (we) by making an overt choice.

Here’s an analogy: Morag is a classical musician. Assume we are friends and you’ve come to listen to Yo-Yo Ma perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the Broomfield Symphony Orchestra (where Morag was the principal bassoonist). As you listen to the concert, sitting quietly (no humming allowed), and as the emotion of the final movement grows, you remain stoic. As the conductor lowers the baton (and not a moment before!), you provide genteel applause or maybe, because you love this piece so much, enthusiastic clapping. Meanwhile Morag is in the back row of the orchestra, quietly shedding a tear at the emotion and looking to see your reaction.

Morag Barrett and her friends at work performing with the Broomfield Symphony Orchestra
Morag Barrett performing with her friends at the Broomfield Symphony Orchestra

Now let’s switch scenes. We’re headed to see Eric and his band, Rogue 2, perform at a local brewpub. Here you don’t sit quietly; in fact, you are expected to sing along, get up and dance, whoop with your applause, and let it all hang out. An overt display of teamwork, enthusiasm, and engagement.

Eric Spencer Friends at Work performing music with Rogue two
Eric Spencer (on the right) and Rogue Two going all out!

You and I haven’t changed who we are between the two venues; we’re the same people. We have the same feelings, core values, and needs. What has changed is the context in which we are experiencing our relationship, demonstrating our leadership, and the expected behaviors appropriate for expressing appreciation and enjoyment.

Choosing the wrong behavior in the wrong location—for example, applauding between movements at the classical concert—will get you frowns and tuts. Singing along and dancing in the aisle during the performance will likely get you removed from the auditorium. Similarly, sitting quietly through Eric’s gig is likely to convince everyone you aren’t having fun, and potentially question your friendship.

Being an ally and nurturing your Ally Mindset—to thoughtfully and deliberately choose how you need to show up to ensure the best experience for all—helps all parties to be present before, during, and after each interaction.”

Time to make music with your friends at work

Music has the power to bring people together, whether in a concert hall or in the workplace. The spontaneous applause at the concert is a timely reminder that friendship at work matters even more when the unexpected happens – whether it’s a project going off-track, a mistake at work, or simply the unexpected applause and recognition of others. Strong relationships ensure we know who we can lean on in a time of need. Who has our back (and whose back that we have!)

We share three steps in You, Me, We to help you build strong connections:

  • Look Up – pay attention to the context in which the relationship is occuring, and what behaviors we may need to demonstrate.
  • Show Up – be intentional in turning the dial up (more dancing) or down (hold the applause until the end) on your leadership behaviors as appropriate.
  • Step Up – Support and encourage each other to be our best selves and ensure we can all be #bettertogether

We encourage you to be our friend at work an pick up a copy of “You, Me, We” to learn more about how to cultivate strong workplace relationships.

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