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Having – and Being – a Friend at Work: Morag Barrett on PYP 538

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When the Gallup organization started looking at employee engagement – basically, a euphemism for the degree to which people like their jobs or think they suck – they came up with a survey tool comprised of 12 questions. Question 10 went like this: “Do you have a best friend at work?”

And much of the corporate world went apeshit over this question.

Some execs felt the question was way too touchy-feely. Others thought it was irrelevant; we're here to get stuff done, not hold hands and sing Kumbaya together.

And some companies refused to participate in the research because – wait for it – they actually discouraged workplace friendships, viewing them as complications that get in the way of productivity and fairness.

And yet the question stayed, because, as it turned out, the answer was one of the biggest predictors of workplace engagement, productivity, and success. Those with a best friend at work felt more encouraged and supported, did more to encourage and support and develop others, and felt like their work was important.

Today's guest, Morag Barrett, along with her SkyeTeam colleagues and coauthors Ruby Vesely and Eric Spencer, understands the importance of having close and meaningful relations in the workplace. In their new book, You Me We, they turn Gallup's question upside down. Instead of inquiring about having a best friend at work, they invite you to ask: “Am I being a best friend at work?”

In other words, how are you showing up for your colleagues and teammates? Do they trust you? Do they feel that you have their back? Can they depend on you? Do they expect helpful candor and rigorous debate to assist their growth?

They've created a pinwheel of qualities of a workplace ally, and challenge all of us to assess ourselves to see where we're strong and where we're weak. Where we show up and where we back down. Where we connect and where we protect.

Here are the categories:

  • Abundance & Generosity
  • Connection & Compassion
  • Courage & Vulnerability
  • Candor & Debate
  • Action & Accountability

In our conversation, Morag and I talk about what's required to create trusting workplaces where people feel safe enough to take risks and do great things together.

We talked about the limits of what an individual can do within the context of a toxic workplace, and how all of us can show up differently, even if there are systems in place designed to foster zero-sum competition rather than abundant generosity of spirit.

We explored how each of us can behave like a leader, going first and taking responsibility for changing our corner of the world, rather than waiting for “them” to fix things.

We looked at several powerful questions to ask ourselves on a regular basis, so that we can orient ourselves toward alliance rather than rivalry.




You Me We, by Barrett, Vesely, and Spencer

Ally Mindset Profile

“Community Game” vs “Stock Market Game” research



Looking for Transformational Change?

You know how when you discovered plant-based eating, you basically went, “Holy shit, how come the entire healthcare system isn't totally embracing this as one of the most powerful keys to disease prevention and reversal!”?

That's how I feel now about a psychological approach to transformational change called “Memory Reconsolidation.” Few psychologists have heard about it, and when they do hear the radical transformations it can bring about in a very short time, they're often skeptical to the point of disbelief.

But I've added Memory Reconsolidation work to my own coaching, and can attest to its amazing efficacy. So much so, my team and I are studying with the best clinicians and teachers in the world, with the goal of introducing it into our health coaching training.

If you're interested in experiencing the magic of memory reconsolidation coaching with me or a member of my team trained in the process, click the link below to open the form in a new browser tab. Someone will get back to you within 3 business days.

Yes, I'm interested in Memory Reconsolidation Coaching.

You CAN Change Other People!

Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.

What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.

Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.

Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂

Tip Jar

This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by clicking the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.


The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.


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