Do you have a "work wife"? If not, you may want to find one, according to these co-founders.
Business partners Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur are the co-authors of "Work Wife: The Power of Female Friendship to Drive Successful Businesses," a new book all about their experiences as friends and co-bosses at the fashion website Of a Kind, including discovering that qualities central to women's friendships can help drive innovation and success at work.
Cerulo and Mazur are reclaiming the old school idea of a "work wife" and calling for a "reimagining of the workplace" from a modern, female point of view. Here, the duo shares their top tips as BFFs and "work wives" on how you can harness the power of female friendships at your job to make it both more fulfilling and successful.
Read on for their advice in their own words.
In the 17 years we've been friends and the nine years we’ve been business partners, we've learned a lot about the magic of a relationship that’s both personal and professional -- so much that we wrote a whole book about it, "Work Wife: The Power of Female Friendship to Drive Successful Businesses." In it, we explore the ways in which the qualities of female friendships shine in an office environment. Here, four pieces of advice for leveraging your on-the-job female friendships to make your work better, more fulfilling, and all-around more enjoyable.
One of the best aspects of our strongest friendships is the ability to say to a pal, "I’m scared of this happening," or, "I can’t help but feel anxious when…" Bringing some of that openness and vulnerability to your workplace relationships will give others a chance to respond with compassion and support and maybe even to open up about their fears and anxieties, too, allowing everyone to function better as a team.
Talk about the non-work stuff, and don't feel bad about it.
Breaking down the latest episode of "Grey's Anatomy" with your office bestie might seem like a distraction from your real work, but guess what? That kind of chatter leads to bonds that are actually good for business. "Those who [have a best friend at work] are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs, are better at engaging customers, produce higher-quality work, have higher well-being, and are less likely to get injured on the job," write the authors of "Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements," a New York Times bestseller drawn from Gallup studies that span 150 countries. Now, this isn't to say you should spend your entire morning picking apart all three hours of "The Bachelor" finale, but you probably already knew that.
Promote each other's ideas in meetings.
One anecdote that came up frequently during interviews and research for our book was the story of female staffers at the Obama White House who joined forces to get their voices heard. In the early days of the administration, the Washington Post reported men ruled the roost—two thirds of Obama's top aides were male—so in order to bubble up their ideas in meetings—and to make sure they actually got credit for them before some guy claimed them as his own—women would amplify what another woman had said, repeating her thought and attaching her name to it (e.g., "I think it's worth exploring the idea that so-and-so shared."). This simple behavioral change led to real progress: During the second term, there was gender parity among those with close proximity to POTUS.
Ask "how are you feeling about everything?"
Capping off our weekly check-ins with this open-ended question happened pretty accidentally at first, but now we ask it intentionally. It gives the other person the opportunity to share whatever’s on her mind without her feeling like she has to raise what could be a hard topic out of thin air. It creates space for someone to share something professional or personal without her feeling like she’s straying from the agenda. If you’re on the receiving end of this question, it could create the opening for you to bring up a client that’s been especially challenging to work with or something happening at home that’s impacting your 9-to-5 self more than you’d like. By sharing these things about people you work closely with, you can nip tensions in the bud or tackle issues together before they become really big headaches.
"Work Wife: The Power of Female Friendship to Drive Successful Businesses" is available now.