Vital Friends: The People You Can't Afford to Live Without

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What’s the quickest way to ruin a friendship? Do great friendships have anything in common? Are close friendships in the workplace such a bad thing?

These are just a few of the questions that #1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Rath asked when he embarked on a massive study about the impact of friendships. Along with several leading researchers, Rath pored through the literature, conducted several experiments, and analyzed more than 8 ...

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Overview

What’s the quickest way to ruin a friendship? Do great friendships have anything in common? Are close friendships in the workplace such a bad thing?

These are just a few of the questions that #1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Rath asked when he embarked on a massive study about the impact of friendships. Along with several leading researchers, Rath pored through the literature, conducted several experiments, and analyzed more than 8 million interviews from The Gallup Organization’s worldwide database.

His team’s discoveries produced Vital Friends, a book that challenges long-held assumptions people have about their relationships. And the team’s landmark discovery that people who have a best friend at work are seven times as likely to be engaged in their job is sure to rattle the structure of organizations around the world.

Drawing on research and case studies from topics as diverse as management, marriage, and architecture, Vital Friends reveals what’s common to all truly essential friendships: a regular focus on what each person is contributing to the friendship rather than the all-too-common approach of expecting one person to be everything.

The book includes a unique ID code that provides access to the Vital Friends Assessment and website. This groundbreaking test reveals which friends play each of the eight vital friendship roles in your work and life.

Tom Rath’s fast-paced and inviting storytelling takes a mountain of important research and makes it remarkably accessible and applicable. By the time you finish reading Vital Friends, you’ll see your coworkers, family, friends, and significant other in a whole new light.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
On the surface, this book seems unnecessary: Who, after all, needs to be convinced of friendship's worth? But Tom Rath's Vital Friends actually breaks new ground by showing how cordial personal relationships enhance every aspect of the workplace and business. Drawing on extensive research, he demonstrates the benefits of friendships for office morale and success with clients.
Washington Post
A workplace without friends is an enemy.
USA Today
Friendships are good for business. Companies are coming to discover that, yet are at a loss at what to do about it. . . . what Gallup has uncovered about best friends stands out as novel.
TIME magazine
Let friendship ring. It might look like idle chatter, but when employees find friends at work, they feel connected to their jobs. Having a best friend at work is a strong predictor for being a happy and productive employee.
Publishers Weekly
Friendship may be coming into vogue as a topic (to wit, Joseph Epstein's new book Friendship: An Expose), but Rath (coauthor of the bestselling How Full Is Your Bucket?) takes a pragmatic rather than philosophical approach. He explores the inherent value of friendships and says that the need for friends goes beyond commonality or companionship; in particular, he devotes a section to friendship at work, which, unlike many companies and managers, Rath sees as a positive force. Rath's research shows that employees who have a best friend in the office are more productive, more likely to engage positively with customers, share new ideas and stay longer in a job. Citing illuminating cases and surveys (many conducted for the Gallup Organization), Rath shows that many people succeed or fail based on the support and involvement of their best friends. Rath posits eight vital roles friends play: some are champions for each other; some collaborate; some connect people with others; and some build each other up through encouragement and trust. Rath's bullishness on friendship is based on solid research and couched in intelligent prose. 150,000 first printing. (Aug. 1) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Rath is the coauthor of How Full Is Your Bucket?, which studied the use of positive psychology in everyday life. Here he continues his discussion of the importance of encouraging friendship, particularly at work. Rath argues that friendships in the workplace are vitally important to success. He presents examples and data from a Gallup study he conducted that examined categories of various work relationships and how these affected employee success. The book's extensive appendixes review the background of the survey and include other notes. A companion web site, www.vitalfriends.com, allows readers to assess their own relationships. While the information presented here is interesting, it doesn't break new ground and tends only to emphasize the positive aspects of work friendships. Given Rath's previous work, however, this book will likely be of interest to larger public libraries. Joel W. Tscherne, formerly with Cleveland P.L. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“A workplace without friends is an enemy.”
The Washington Post

“Friendships are good for business. Companies are coming to discover that, yet are at a loss at what to do about it. ... what Gallup has uncovered about best friends stands out as novel.”
USA Today

“Let friendship ring. It might look like idle chatter, but when employees find friends at work, they feel connected to their jobs. Having a best friend at work is a strong predictor for being a happy and productive employee.”
Time magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743561266
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Publication date: 11/21/2006
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 3 CDs, 3 hours
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 5.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Rath is coauthor of the #1 New York Times and #1 BusinessWeek bestseller, How Full Is Your Bucket? With more than 500,000 copies in print within its first year of publication, his book has spent 15 months on the domestic bestseller list. Now available in more than 10 languages, Rath’s book has also been an international bestseller.

After 12 years with The Gallup Organization, Rath now leads Gallup’s Workplace Research and Leadership Consulting worldwide. He also serves on the board of VHL.org, an organization dedicated to cancer research and patient support.

Rath earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan. He is currently pursuing graduate degrees at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Read an Excerpt

Vital Friends

What Roles do Your Friends Play?

The studies that VITAL FRIENDS is based on show that people have significantly better friendships if they can easily describe what each friend contributes to the relationship. To make that possible, Gallup built an assessment to help you determine the roles friends play and to give both participants the language to talk about those roles and how to make them better. Each book and galley has a unique code that allows readers to take the assessment that identifies what role a friend plays in your life. Here's a look at the top eight roles that research uncovered:
  • BUILDER Builders are friends who motivate you, invest in your development, and truly want you to succeed -- even if it means they'll go out on a limb for you. These friends help you see your strengths and advise you on how best to use them. They are generous with their time and encourage you to accomplish more. They'll never compete with you and will always be standing at the finish line to cheer you on.
  • CHAMPION Champions stand up for you and your beliefs and they praise you to everyone else they know. They are the friends who "have your back" and will advocate for you when you're not around to defend yourself. Champions are your strongest supporters who thrive on your accomplishments and happiness.
  • COLLABORATOR Collaborators are friends with similar interests, those who share your passion for sports, hobbies, religion, work, politics, food, movies, music, or books. Shared interests are what often make Collaborators lifelong friends and those with whom you are most likely to spend your time.
  • COMPANION Companions are always there for you, whatever the circumstances. You share a bound that is virtually unbreakable and when something big happens in your life, good or bad, this is the person you call first. These friends are always giving you meaningful gifts and they will sacrifice for your benefit.
  • CONNECTOR Connectors are the bridge builders who help you get what you want. These friends get to know you and then instantly work to connect you with others who will share your interests or goals. They extend your network dramatically and give you access to new resources. If you need a job, a doctor, a friend, or a date, call a Connector.
  • ENERGIZER Energizers are fun friends who are always there to boost your spirits and create more positive moments in your life. They pick you up when you're down and can turn a good day into an even better one. Energizers are those to call on when you need a laugh, a smile, or a bit of relaxation in your day.
  • MIND OPENER Mind Openers are the friends who stretch your viewpoint, introduce you to new ideas, opportunities, cultures, and people. They help you to expand your vision and create positive change in your life. These are the friends who challenge conventional wisdom and come up with creative solutions to whatever problems or obstacles you face. They are stimulating and motivating and allow you to express opinions that you might be uncomfortable articulating to others.
  • NAVIGATOR Navigators are friends who give advice and direction. You seek them out when you need guidance and counsel -- they're great at talking through your options. Navigators are best at hearing your dreams and goals and then helping you find the path to achieve them.

Having the right expectation of your friends is everything, writes Tom Rath in VITAL FRIENDS. If your expectations of a friend are in line with what they contribute to your friendship, the relationship is poised to thrive and make both of you better off in the process.

Adapted from VITAL FRIENDS: The People You Can't Afford to Live Without, by Tom Rath, publication August, 2006, The Gallup Press.

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Table of Contents

Something's missing 1
Ch. 1 Who expects you to be somebody? 5
Ch. 2 The energy between 15
Ch. 3 Better than Prozac? 21
Ch. 4 The silver lining in a marriage 27
Ch. 5 The rounding error 33
Ch. 6 Does work balance life? 39
Ch. 7 The three-friend threshold 47
Ch. 8 Can you be friends with your boss? 59
Ch. 9 Getting engaged at work 65
Ch. 10 Sharpening each relationship 75
Ch. 11 The eight vital roles 85
Ch. 12 Family ties 137
Ch. 13 The water cooler effect 141
Ch. 14 Plugging in 147
Parting thoughts 153
App A case study : can leaders set the tone?
App Development of the vital friends assessment : a technical report
App Gallup research on friendships
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