Loyalty in all aspects of our lives is at a steady decline. Twenty years ago, a person had on average three people he or she could confide in. Today that number is two. And two out of 10 people say they have no one to confide in.
Those “loyal connections” can make us feel more fulfilled, and they are a huge factor in whether or not we’re successful, says Lerzan Aksoy, co-author of Why Loyalty Matters and a professor at Fordham University.
And it’s not enough to have loyal connections with friends.
“You have to have loyal connections in at least three domains—friends and family, people in the workplace, and society as a whole—or you’ll feel that something is missing,” says Aksoy.
The authors found that people never believe that a lack of loyalty is their problem. It’s always others who are not loyal enough.
Three ways to build loyal connections at work:
1. Offer your expertise to a co-worker. “If a co-worker has a particular challenge, do you offer to pitch in?” asks Aksoy. Go beyond your normal duties to pay attention to the concerns of those around you, demonstrate empathy, help someone understand obstacles and help him overcome them.
2. Encourage co-workers by offering a specific compliment. “Recognizing someone for his performance helps him feel that his hard work is justified, even if you’re not his boss,” she says. “And it makes the compliment-giver feel good, too.”
Example: Aksoy points to a recent talk she gave, where a colleague showed up to support her, bringing his wife and a few other people. The colleague came up afterward to rave about the talk, saying he was happy to have brought others to hear it.
“He was there to support me, and he was very specific in telling me that I’d done a good job,” she says.
3. If you make a promise, keep it. “It’s true for any relationship—trust is important,” she says.
It’s important to demonstrate to your colleagues that you’re consistent and that you can be the go-to person. You’ll be known for it, she says. “Others will think, ‘Oh, I can go to Helen to ask this question. I know that when I go to her, she’ll help me figure it out, or at least show me a way to do that.’”