Teammates Who Are Friends First Get More Done

When it comes to getting a project done, group work can either be a frustrating experience or blissful and efficient endeavor. Wherever we each land on this spectrum, the common denominator in most negative group work experiences seems to be not getting along with the other members. Recent scientific research suggests that we can actually find more success in projects if we work with friends.

A meta-analysis of 26 different studies conducted by researchers at Ohio State University found that teams work together better when members are friendly. The paper, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, detailed how teams made up of people with pre-existing friendships outperformed teams made up of acquaintances or strangers. The results were consistent for all age groups and even for multiple different types of tasks (mental vs. physical tasks, for example).

“When you’re working with friends, you tend to be in a better mood and can work through the adversity and strain that sometimes comes from having to produce a lot in a short time,” lead author Seunghoo Chung, a doctoral student in management and human resources at OSU, told Science Daily. “Friends can coordinate tasks more effectively. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and can figure out how to break up the work in the most efficient way.”

There were some potential benefits found when groups consisted of strangers, such as a stronger likelihood to debate opposing positions and being less likely to fall in line with the crowd’s opinion. However, working with friends comes out on top overall in terms of being productive and maximizing output.

The researchers also made suggestions for businesses who would like to benefit from this technique, such as incorporating more team-building activities and social events that increase familiarity and friendliness amongst staff.

If working in a group of people (friendly or not) feels like it’s going against the grain for you, there are ways you can become more comfortable with the idea and ultimately communicate better with teammates. For instance, if it’s hard to keep cool during an argument there are steps to take to be a better listener. If you find your co-workers tend to act out in passive-aggressive ways, there are methods to appropriately deal with them. Also, reducing stress in the moment is entirely possible with a few helpful tips.

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