Career, Opinions, Self-Improvement, Vanessa Tai

Working With Friends – Vanessa Tai

Yesterday, I read an article in the newspapers about how it may not be a good idea to work with a friend. On the surface, it may seem like a fantastic idea – working alongside your BFF for eight (or more) hours a day – what could be better, right? However, according to the article, friends tend to have the same outlook as you so this might lead to a shortage of fresh ideas coming into the company. Another potential problem with working with friends is the unwillingness to question or criticise each other’s ideas.

I found it very relevant for us at Material World because after all, we Material Girls are friends who started this business venture together. (We didn’t start off as friends, though. We were colleagues first, then friends, and now we are business partners.) While the article did bring up some salient points, I think the four of us have found a way to make this partnership work without compromising on our friendship. Here are some of the methods, which hopefully you’ll find useful if you ever find yourself having to work alongside a friend!

1. Be Honest

As with all relationships, transparency really is key. You can’t have a thriving relationship if you’re not honest with what you’re really thinking about. We’ve had frank discussions about our strengths, our weaknesses and even supposedly touchy topics like our finances. And whenever we have brainstorm sessions, we’re not afraid to tell each other if an idea doesn’t work. Which brings me to my next point …

2. Grow A Thick Skin

For some reason, being criticised stings more when it comes from someone we’re close to. That’s because we value the person’s opinion way more than say, a random hater on the Internet. However, you’ll need to view things from a macro perspective; everything that’s being said is for the good of the company. So shrug off those hurt feelings and focus on how you can improve the quality of your work.

3. Communicate (A Lot)

"Anyones wants to go with me for the event?" (What a typical Material World text might look like)

“Anyone wants to go with me for the event?” (What a typical Material World text might look like)

The Material Girls have two chat groups on WhatsApp (don’t ask me why.) And not a day goes by without us updating the group chat about our daily on-goings, whether it’s a story we’re working on or an event we’re attending. We also have a compulsory weekly meeting and once a month, we spend an entire day working alongside each other. So because we’re constantly kept in the loop of each other’s lives and work progress, we are able to easily pick up the slack should one of us fall ill or go overseas.

4. Spend Time Away From Work

Work hard, play harder!

Work hard, play harder!

This is a very important point. Sometimes, if you spend too much time working with someone, you’ll just start to associate them with work, which is why it’s crucial to spend time with your friend/co-worker doing non-work-related stuff.We Material Girls often do things like boot camp or night treks together. The endorphins plus the great outdoors make for a fantastic stress-reliever, plus it serves as a reminder why we enjoy each other’s company so much.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

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