Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Hard Facts: I’m An Office Introvert

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“It’s one thing to associate with a group in which each member works autonomously on his piece of the puzzle; it’s another to be corralled into endless meetings or conference calls conducted in offices that afford no respite from the noise and gaze of co-workers. Studies show that open-plan offices make workers hostile, insecure and distracted. They’re also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, stress, the flu and exhaustion. And people whose work is interrupted make 50 percent more mistakes and take twice as long to finish it..” (“The Rise of the New Groupthink” ; New York Times 1/13/2012)

I consider myself an extrovert. I feel energized and happy after a night out with a group of friends. But I definitely have some introverted tendencies, and one of those is my general desire to work alone.

In college, when teachers would assign group projects? Ugh. Kill me. I couldn’t stand those meetings that always seemed to go twice as long as they should. It drove me crazy when I had to trust someone else to execute his part of the assignment. I wanted to be responsible for my own grade, and I wanted to do my work on my own schedule. I’m someone who thrives on deadlines, which means I’m often hunched over a computer at 11 pm, and that’s when I do my best work.

I feel the same way about office meetings. Anyone who worked with me at my last job can attest to how much I couldn’t stand department pow-wows. We’d sit around a giant conference room, each person explaining what she was working on, and I would start to get the jitters 45 minutes in. Always. I was the girl that pushed her chair back, away from the table, in hopes of signaling to the group: “It’s time to leave!” I love talking about TV more than anyone, but the post-meeting linger to exchange Lost theories just made me want to tear my hair out.

Clearly, I believe in socializing. And I am a huge-time proponent of work BFFs. Having best pals at work makes an employee exponentially more satisfied in her job, and a more satisfied worker is a more productive worker. But when it comes to the forced socialization of group projects and big meetings, it’s not my style. I’d rather giggle with my work bestie behind the closed doors of an office (or in my old case, the high walls of my cube) for five minutes than spend an hour in a meeting. And those meetings and group time   largely ate into actual work time, suddenly forcing people to stay after-hours if they actually wanted to get anything done.

Susan Cain, who wrote this New York Times article, is the author of the new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop TalkingI’m looking forward to reading it, because as someone who is constantly pushing socializing over sitting on the couch, I want to know the cases where solitude wins. For me, the office, at least when one is trying to be productive, is one of those places. (PSA: Reminder that being an introvert doesn’t mean you never need to socialize or interact with other humans. It means you get your energy from within, rather than from others, and that your socializing might be better in the form of one or two people rather than a big group. Clearly, I’m an office introvert.)

Are you an office introvert? Or do you enjoy what Susan Cain calls “The New Groupthink”?

BLOG NEWS! After two years of posting every single day, MWF Seeking BFF will now be updated every other day. Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Like MWF. Get it? Get it?


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I’m Two Today!

Two years ago today, this blog was born.

I cannot believe I’ve been writing here five days a week for two years. This is my 512th post. What??? It’s hard to wrap my head around.

The most important thing for me to say on my second birthday is this: Thank you. I don’t think I say it enough. That you all come back day after day, reading, commenting, and sharing this blog with your own BFFs means so much to me.

That you’ve spent your hard-earned money on MWF Seeking BFF, launching the book to national bestsellerdom… you actually made my dreams come true. It’s not every day I  get to say that, but I mean it here.

To recap the life of this blog, I thought I woud highlight some of the biggest posts of the past two years.

Most Controversial: The Wedding Gift Question

Most Commented: Is There an Anti-Mom Sentiment When It Comes to Friendship?

Most Page Views: On Women Who Won’t Be Friends With Women. “Too Much Drama.” (Big thanks to The Happiness Project’Gretchen Rubin for linking back to MWF on the day of this post!)

Biggest Geek Out Moment: Ann M. Martin’s Infinite Wisdom

Favorite Guest Post: The Male Perspective (courtesy of husband Matt!)

I could go on, but for now let me just say that you all are the best. Thank you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Two years ago, MWF Seeking BFF, the book, was just a dream. Now it’s a reality. To see what these two years have brought:
Order a copy
Read an excerpt
Get the book club guide

Watch the trailer


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The Importance of Inside Jokes

When I was in middle school I loved me an inside joke. My favorite thing to do was write in a friend’s yearbook in a language that seemed all our own. No one could understand our references to “Sally Kiegel” and “special schedules” and “‘you may go.'” That’s because they were just ours.

Now, ten years later, I still laugh when I read those words, even though they mean nothing to anything else. But there’s more to inside jokes than silliness. A good inside joke just might be the single thing that can elevate an acquaintanceship to a friendship.

Let me explain myself.

In MWF Seeking BFF, I tell the story of my friendship with Natalie. It started with a simple debate about rompers during a book club. The next day, when I spotted one out in the wild, it seemed the perfect excuse to text my new pal. It was our very first text exchange, and opened the door for us to text back and forth about rompers, and eventually other common interests, and eventually brunch plans. An inside joke becomes something that only you and your friend understand, or, at least, an excuse to open the lines of communication beyond friendly book club announcements or fundraiser invitations.

This has become something I look out for whenever I have a new friend. It doesn’t always have to be a middle school-esque gibberish joke. It could just be something you have in common that is specific to you. My work friends and I once started a fitness team called The Transformers. Now, whenever I see a random transformer poster, I take a picture and send it to them. Another friend loves bad dance movies as much as I do. (I saw Jessica Alba’s Honey in the theater. Twice. True story.) Whenever I hear about Step Up 4-H: You’ve Been Served the Last Dance, I go straight to her. And when I watched ABC Family’s Revenge of the Bridesmaids last night? The only person I wanted to call was Joan, who loves a good TV movie more than anyone I know.

This is what friendship is. Think about your bestest BFF. There are things you see, or hear, or remember, that make you pick up the phone and call immediately. These are the little reminders that, hey, you need to shoot her a hello and say, “I’m thinking of you.” When I look back at any of my new friendships, it is this moment when we went from “people who know each other” to “friends.” When we shared an intangible random connection, not just a sushi roll or a bottle of wine.

Have you been there? Did a joke or some other inside nugget elevate one of your friendships?

Book clubs are reading MWF Seeking BFF, and the conversations have been fascinating! Read it with your book club and you can use these discussion questions. Or I’d be happy to Skype with your group if it meets in April or later. (March is all booked up!)



Filed under The Search

Do You Reveal More To Strangers Than Friends?

Do you ever find it easier to talk to strangers than to friends?

I’m not talking about therapists. Just strangers.

As you know, I spend a lot of my working hours at a coffee shop. I like being something of a fly on the wall there. I often overhear long heart-to-heart talks between friends, (it’s overhearing, not eavesdropping. I swear. Usually) but just as often I’ll catch a snippet of a chat between strangers. These two people will be meeting for the first time, but their chatter can sometimes get personal really quickly.

The other day a woman next to me was talking (loudly, which is why I have all this information) about coming out, and being a devout catholic, and how her parents think her religiousness is a passing phase. She says otherwise, and was telling her coffee companion about her unique role in both the church groups and the gay rights groups of which she is a member.

The conversation went on, and the woman continued to open up more and more. It seemed obvious to me, given her volume as she revealed all this in a public place, that this woman wasn’t especially private. But it struck me that she seemed to be giving this new friend a lot of information about herself. Information that someone might not as easily share with close friends who are entrenched in her life.

I’m a talker. (Surprise!) When something is on my mind, it’s hard for me to keep it to myself. Even if I want to. I process my thoughts by speaking them aloud, and I value input from other people. Most of the time, I’ll talk to my besties. I want the advice of people who know me best. But then there are sometimes when I find myself revealing things to new friends that I might not necessarily tell my BFFs.

Asking advice of a relatively new friend can feel less loaded. They don’t have as big an interest in all the players in your life. They might give you a totally straightforward answer without weighing all the things they know about you and your history first.

I think the best part about talking to a relative stranger over a friend every now and then is that the question won’t come back to haunt you. If you want another’s input on an issue, but then you want to let it go, never to revisit it again, that can’t always happen with a BFF. Your friend, good pal that she is, will likely follow up. See how you’re doing a week later. This is a good thing. This caring is what makes her your best friend. But when you want to try and let something go, friends can make that tough.

So, there’s my long thought process all to get at the question: Do you ever find it easier to talk to relative strangers or new friends than to your besties?

I was really thrilled to contribute to Krystle Klein’s awesome web series “The FatNoMoSho” last week. I weighed in about how friendships influence our body image. Watch it here!


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Famous Friendships: Schmidt and Turtle

Credit: The Gentleman's League

Here’s something I learned today. Max Greenfield of The New Girl  and Jerry Ferrara of Entourage are best buds.

This is very exciting news. I’ve been on record for a couple of months now with my sweeping declaration that Greenfield’s Schmidt is the funniest character on TV. And clearly Turtle is the best thing to have happened to Entourage. That they have a real life bromance makes me happy.

Turns out they produce and star in a TV show together. It’s called The Gentleman’s League and it’s on (or was on?) DirecTV. TGL is a documentary-style series of shorts that follows their shared fantasy football league. Think a real-life The League without all the vulgar stuffs. You can watch the first episode (which is only 5:31 long) here. As someone who knows little-to-nothing about football, I still enjoyed it.

According to this episode of The Gentleman’s League, Greenfield and Ferrara have been friends for 8-10 years, or, as Turtle put it, the length of  “a minimum prison sentence for a not-so-violent crime.” And this is why I love him.

This is now my second-favorite male BFFship. Only one magic-loving bromance can beat it.

What’s your favorite celebrity bromance?


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