17 easy things to do when you’re feeling lonely
To escape his addiction, the workaholic has to reapportion time and use it to reestablish friendships and family life. That rings true to me: I doubt I ever worked less than a hour week in the entire decade that I was the chief executive of a Washington, D. Many leaders work much more than this, leaving little time to cultivate outside relationships. According to one finding in the Harvard Business Reviewfor example, half of CEOs experience loneliness on the job, and most of them feel loneliness hinders their work performance.
Some of this has to do with the sheer of hours spent at work.
Take the case of Ben Franklin. More recent research has shown that subordinates might want to shun friendship with a boss because, paradoxically, it can actually result in bias against the employee. Popular Latest.
Why do people behave this way? Consider the famous study in which the Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues asked working women to describe how they felt about the moments in their day, from the joyful to the stressful.
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Read: The scheduling woes of adult friendship. His remark expresses the persistent idea that leaders tend to be isolated and lonely. This is a hard problem, but it will never be solved without admitting that there is a problem in the first place. From the November issue: Why you never see your friends anymore.
Professionally successful people—and those climbing the ladder to leadership—need to know how to manage this problem. And one study found that people often treat their professional superiors the way they treated authority figures from earlier in their lives, such as parents or teachers.
Why it’s so lonely at the top
One study from found that bosses believe subordinates in a workplace lose their sense of free will about being pleasant with the person at the top—you are unfriendly to the boss at your peril—which makes things uncomfortable and awkward.
He had stumbled across one of the secrets to success without loneliness: building your own intimate community outside of work. Among employees and managers studied by the human-resource advisory firm Future Workplace and the workplace-wellness company Virgin Pulse, more than 90 percent said they have friends from work, 70 percent said friendship at work is the most important element to a happy work life, and 58 percent said they would turn down a higher-paying job if it meant not getting along with co-workers.
But loneliness is not a necessary condition of success, any more than unpaid taxes are a condition of making a lot of money. Modern research supports this claim. It can indeed be lonely at the top.
Wrapped up in their fear and obsession, workaholics—like all people controlled by their addictive behavior—leave little room in their lives for friends, family, and even God. But there are things leaders can do to make life at the top less lonely—and those strategies can help people still climbing the ladder, as well. From the September issue: Is there really such a thing as a workaholic?
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Solving the workaholism problem requires complete honesty. Lonely leaders who work crushing hours often tell me they have no choice if they want to succeed. The nature of the boss-employee relationship often makes it hard for either side to connect with the other on a purely human-to-human level. Generally speaking, it can be diagnosed by asking questions such as whether someone works far beyond what is required and, in so doing, neglects other parts of their life. Since Oates introduced the concept, workaholism has gotten a lot of attention from psychologists, who believe that it is a real and rising problem in American life.
Anyone can benefit from creating opportunities to socialize outside the office, but leaders often need these intentional friendships particularly acutely.
It is just a cost one must face honestly, and manage. The activities that produced the most negative feelings were working, child care sorry, kidsand commuting. The lonely boss. The positive side of the ledger yielded few surprises: People were happiest while having sex, socializing, and relaxing, and most enjoyed the time spent with their friends, relatives, and spouses. But people at the top often miss out on workplace friendships, and they may suffer mightily as a result.
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He is tired, sick, sad, and alone in his misery. And, unlike taxes, loneliness can be defeated.
If it is dysfunctional relationships—possibly brought on by years of neglect—it will only get worse by indulging the addiction. The second- and third-most-negative interaction partners were clients and co-workers. People with authority isolate themselves, as well. As such, they objectify subordinates every bit as much as subordinates objectify them. Workaholic leaders lie to themselves all the time.
Read: The pandemic is changing work friendships. When I dig a little, I usually find symptoms of a common disease among successful people: workaholism. In my experience, workaholics also exhibit more classic addictive behavior, such as sneaking around to do work and feeling threatened or angry when loved ones suggest they should work less.
Later research found that leaders often purposely distance themselves from employees so they can appraise their performance fairly. The sociologists David Riesman and Nathan Glazer, along with the poet Reuel Denney, famously claimed in their bookThe Lonely Crowdthat leaders are lonely because their success requires the manipulation and persuasion of others.
Friendship at work is crucial to happiness for most people. Studies also have shown that loneliness is linked to burnout among leaders. Furthermore, the management and remediation of loneliness—to seek and give love—is its own reward. The psychologist Barbara Killinger argued that workaholics tend to be perfectionists and possess an unhealthy fear of failure.
And the No. The boss. Some people do this through golf; others through Bible study. The club provided Franklin an outlet where he could develop real friendships, speak freely, seek advice, and develop ideas. Acknowledging this truth also requires facing what the workaholic is avoiding with the extra hour.