At Homecoming last weekend, I was watching an alumni basketball game.  Several former players who had chosen not to play were watching with me from the sidelines.

One of their former teammates was on the court and he missed a shot.  My two companions started trash talking to him:  “Why did you touch the ball?” they yelled.  “You couldn’t throw a beach ball into the ocean.  That’s why they made you a post player!”  

And on it went.  Lots of missed shots.  Lots of jibes.  Lots of laughter.

I took the ribbing as a visible sign of their camaraderie.  These teammates had obviously been through a lot together, not only in their college days, but in the many years since.  They were able to give each other grief out of love, not spite.

How can you take steps to develop this level of trust with your “teammates”, even if there is no game involved?  How can you cultivate a level of enjoyment and brotherhood with those with whom you work?

Start today, and talk to your office mate about something non-work related.  Try to share some humor and levity in addition to reports and assignments.  Laugh a little together.  

In twenty years, there may not be a reunion of former employees, but your goal should be to create the kind of relationship now that would let you savor a similar kind of ribbing if there were.

— beth triplett

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