This week a lot of us in my Twitterverse experienced the kind of loss that is somewhat new in the age of social media. My good Twitter friend, a man with exactly 56,025 Twitter followers, disappeared from my digital world over the course of a weekend.
At just 49, Imad Naffa, a civil engineer whom we featured on BusinessNewsDaily last month as one of our "Twitter Elite " – a person who used social media to promote and expand his business and build relationships that straddled the line between business and personal – died from an apparent heart attack. It was a shocking and disturbing loss, but a strange one, too. It seems so odd to mourn for a person you've never actually met.
Partly, it's just the sudden disappearance of someone who was always – and I do mean always – there, morning, noon, night and weekends. His Twitter messages still sit in my TweetDeck feed along with his smiling headshot.
His passing so close to the anniversary of Sept. 11 ― a day when many lost not only family members and friends, but co-workers, business associates and social support systems ― reminds me that often it's our business acquaintances who play a large and underacknowledged role in our lives.
We may never invite them to our homes, talk to them outside of work or even meet them in person, but we know a lot about them. We know their kids' names, their favorite sports teams, their hobbies and passions. And they know ours. We know more intimate details, too. We know if they are healthy or not, whether they're getting divorced, if they are having problems outside the office. We share so much with our "work friends," yet the arena in which the relationships play out is limited to our offices and computer screens.
There's been a lot of research that finds that people who are happy at work and who have friendly co-workers lead longer, healthier lives. It's really not that surprising. Being a part of a community, whether it's a church, a neighborhood or an office, is essential to our social lives and affects our overall health and well-being.
These are our friends, our mentors and our partners in success and failure. They see us at our worst – crying in the ladies room or recovering from the flu – and at our best. We admire each other, compete with each other and laugh together. Over the course of a career, we spend an awful lot of time together.
The death of Imad and the memory of all the workers who lost their work friends 10 years ago is a sad but poignant reminder to appreciate those people we see every day ― to take the time to see them also as real people with lives not so different from our own.
- Creating Workplace Civility: Why Courtesy is Crucial for Business
- The Importance of Appreciating Your Employees
- Happy Employees Improve the Bottom Line