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Vital Friends: The People You Can't Afford to Live Without

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  390 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
What's the quickest way to ruin a friendship? Do great friendships have anything in common? Are close friendships in the workplace such a bad thing?

These are just a few of the questions that #1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Rath asked when he embarked on a massive study about the impact of friendships. Along with several leading researchers, Rath pored through the
Hardcover, 218 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Gallup Press (first published June 29th 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Peg Burington
Mar 11, 2009 Peg Burington rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: adults
The best books usually come from recommendations made by friends! This book is no exception. A close friend handed the book to me last week. Author/researcher Tom Rath explores the way in which friends can enrich your life and how fostering friendships at work can make an organization even more productive. According to new research, finding friends at work can make employees feel more connected to their jobs and the ideal situation is where the people you work with are "like family." Having frie ...more
Apr 14, 2015 Heather rated it liked it
Shelves: leadership
I like the overall idea and thesis of this book - friendships and relationships are important! They are more important than personal, individual development. A good friend at work increases your engagement and productivity. There are some friends we can't live without. Identifying what these friends bring to the relationship and how they help us can improve our productivity. I thought the list of roles that friends play was interesting. I see value in each of these roles, but I know there are ot ...more
Jan 12, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
This book is a terrific testament to the fact that strong friendships are vital to our health. What was really amazing to have affirmed was that friendships @ work are very important and should be cultivated. How many times have we heard that we SHOULDN'T socialize with people from work? How many times have we heard colleagues say that they don't want to socialize with people from work? This book was so interesting because it asserted that refraining from building friendships @ work is a BAD ide ...more
Jun 26, 2009 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
This book looks at the science of friendships and the impact they have on our lives. Easy read, great examples based on solid research from the Gallup organization.

Rath asserts what Solomon said long ago, "as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
Feb 27, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
book and on CD
2CDs 2.5 hours
from the library c2006 text

this book is so important that I should copy out sections of text for
ADP start with part 2 beginning and go forward and backward from there

8 vital roles: builder, champion, collaborator, companion, connector, energizer, mind opener, navigator
• Builder (motivator)
• Champion (sing your praises)
• Collaborator (has similar interests, passions)
• Companion (always there for you)
• Connector (introduces you others, widens your circle)
• Energizer (
Aug 04, 2012 Kristin rated it liked it
Shelves: well-being
I should probably withhold my rating until after I've done the assessment that comes along with the book, but I should also probably get some thoughts down before I lose them!

The book helped me to see, more, why Gallup is currently so invested in it's Wellness work. It really does draw together the strengthsfinder, Q12 and this work into more of a coordinated whole.

I'm not sure why this book didn't get more traction than it did. There is clearly some interesting work here on the importance of f
Mar 07, 2010 Mary rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I thought this was an interesting take on a business book. We all spend so much time honing our professional skills, but in a lot of cases, data seems to indicate that we make the greatest advances as a result of our relationships with others--- they offer us opportunities, help us see the best parts of ourselves, really take us beyond what we can do on our own.

I listened to the audiobook, and though it says it's unabridged, I was left with doubts about the validity of the research. That may be
Feb 27, 2010 Janet rated it it was ok
Who knew that people who have a "best friend at work" are seven times as likely to be engaged in their job?! This book offers this and other statistics like it. While I enjoyed taking the online assessment of the people in my life to discover exactly what their contributions are, in general this book just was an easy read with a simple not too surprising message--we are people who need people, and different people bring different things to our lives, and we should capitalize on those things for ...more
Kristal Cooper
Sep 07, 2011 Kristal Cooper rated it really liked it
This is a description of one researcher's scientific findings about the effects of having close personal friends. It also describes the eight main types of friends you have and why you need some of each. Much of the focus is on the workplace and how much a good friend there enhances your experience and output. Given the survey results, I'm surprised that all employers aren't hiring groups of sorority girls. I'm not trying to be sarcastic here, it's just that being able to have friends at work is ...more
Jan 16, 2011 Marci rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: All
A close friend recommended this book to me and I couldn't have been more pleased by Tom Rath's insight to friendships throughout life and in the workplace. 'Vital Friends' has a section where you can take a quiz to see what strengths your friendship with X provides in your life. I really enjoyed that section and found it helpful with how I relate to specific people in my life and what I can do for them in return.

A very enjoyable & easy read.
Kristi Burns
Jul 25, 2016 Kristi Burns rated it really liked it
A great read for folks who desire to help create healthier workplace environments! This book is based on good research.
Melissa Chiang
Jan 03, 2017 Melissa Chiang rated it it was amazing
This book is a quick essential read to start off the year. Tom Rath introduces a vocabulary and mental framework that challenges how we might think about friendships.

What stuck with me the most is the all important question from Chapter 1, "Who expects you to be somebody?". The anecdotes in the chapter were a powerful reminder that those who lack these essential friends are often those who also suffer personally and professionally. We are more engaged with our tasks and goals when we learn to c
Ged Cusack
Jul 28, 2016 Ged Cusack rated it it was amazing
The book concentrates on the benefits that we receive from our closest friends.
The term friend is now over used, with the advent of Facebook and other social networks, slight acquaintances are now classed as friends. Vital (True) friends are people that bring something essential to our lives.
Here vital friends are split into eight categories Builders, Champions, Collaborators, Companions, Connectors, Mind Openers Navigators & Energizers. Each of the categories is covered in depth in regard
Chinarut Ruangchotvit
Mar 03, 2015 Chinarut Ruangchotvit rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fatima
I honestly went into this book thinking it was going to be redundant with StrengthsFinder 2.0 and didn't make any progress at first. Then I saw the audiobook at the library and saw it was only 2 CDs! most books are like 8-10 CDs - two is a no-brainer and finished it that night while in the kitchen and throughly enjoyed it! the point of this book is not the information. the point of this book is to get the conversations started with the people who mean most to you - talk about the 8 roles he's de ...more
Feb 19, 2017 Patty rated it really liked it
Quick but powerful read about the diverse ways in which friendships in work and in life help us grow, support us, and challenge us as individuals.
Nola Redd
Apr 20, 2012 Nola Redd rated it it was amazing
Picked this up after reading Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, and I can see why that author recommended it.

To be honest - this book shifted the way I thought about my friendships. I think too often I think someone needs to fulfill multiple roles, or that because they fill a role that most people don't, it means we should be "more than friends" - when we shouldn't. I didn't quite realize that til I read this book, honestly. If I take nothing else from it, that was th
Jun 02, 2008 Jillian rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Managers, lonely people, those looking to expand their circle.
I liked this, although I think the information in this book has been repeated so many times in women's magazines that it's almost repetitive at times. I thought the studies of the homeless and their lack of friends was really interesting since like many people I thought substance abuse or mental illness was the main cause of homelessness. The information about why it was important to have close friends at work was pretty interesting too-and would be helpful for managers. I liked what it said abo ...more
Alex Wong
Apr 08, 2014 Alex Wong rated it really liked it
An interesting read that helps highlights the importance of friendship and it's impact in our lives - at home and at work. The illustrations are helpful and helps provide something to anchor on such a topic. The vital friends assessment was useful as well. The descriptions on the 8 vital roles and how to build on them were also very useful in application and creating conversation with friends.

Some of the key points for me include:
1. We need a best friend (even at work)
2. There's a 3-close frien
Jun 13, 2016 Charmin rated it really liked it
Shelves: growth
1. The quality of our friendships that matters most.
2. Smaller day-to-day interactions that build a true, lasting friendship.
3. The best gauge of a friendship’s health is each person’s happiness during everyday interactions.
4. Friendships are not designed to be well-rounded. We should not expect any of our friends to be good at everything. Focus on what each friend does contribute to your life.
5. Get plugged into a network of potential friends right away. Once these personal conne
Oct 09, 2007 John rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Cavedwellers, especially those with no friends
This book speaks to the Gallup question, "Do you have a best friend at work." The book is interesting, but I did not find it very useful. The book starts with an overview of why you need a friend. Nothing new there, unless you're a cave dweller. Most of the book speaks to relationships, and categorizes those relationships: Builder, Champion, Collaborator, Companion, Connector, Energizer, Mind Opener, and Navigator. It's possibly useful to think of your relationships that way. Maybe more useful t ...more
Apr 10, 2013 kelly rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People needing Scientific Evidence to Mucky Mucks that their work friendship is good for the company
Recommended to kelly by: Someone in charge of my salary
This is essentially a long magazine article defending friendships at work followed by tests to categorize your friends. I hadn't realize friendships at work needed to be defended, but you will learn about companies that prevent them and what happens to people when they lose friends at work (hint: they may become alcoholic and then homeless).
The saddest part to me was one of the FAQs in the back of the book: "What if I am too busy? How can I invest in friendships?"
Wow, are there really people ask
Apr 02, 2015 Amber rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-loan
This book was not at all what I expected. I was hoping for a more detailed study of the dynamics of friendship. This book has an online quiz for you to take that helps you to classify your friends. The book then breaks down the friend types into more detailed descriptions. The overall point of the book seemed to be: employees are happier and more engaged if they have "best friends" at work, so workplaces should endeavor to create a relationship-building environment.
Jan 24, 2016 Jamie rated it liked it
This is a fast read, and there's some really practical information here: about how important and neglected friendships are (particularly in the workplace) and about the 8 types of friends everybody needs). The 3 star rating is really more of a 3.5. Borrow it from the library, take a couple of hours to read it. It's worth it, but I was left wanting more.
Mar 28, 2012 Amy rated it really liked it
This book takes a different spin on relationships in our lives. To me, it shows God's detail in placing people in our lives that spur us on, encourage us, fellowship with us, open our minds to new things, etc. There is a purpose for every person our lives. It made me aware of the contributions that others make in my life as well as the contributions I can make in theirs.
Jul 12, 2009 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned the value of friends, and particularly friends at work, through Rath's insightful research. I didn't get as much out of the "How to" (find a friend/keep a friend) part of the book, nor all the categories of friends he says one needs. Either I don't think in those categories or I'm just really impoverished.
Jun 22, 2013 Marie rated it liked it
A book about relationships and how having best friends helps us to work better, be happier, have a better view of our job (and even our pay rate), and makes us healthier. It discusses the different roles that friends play in our lives and how we can't expect every friend to fulfill each function. It is an interesting read; well written with good examples that were easy to understand.
Mark Fallon
Feb 26, 2008 Mark Fallon rated it really liked it
Friends have always been important to me, and Rath reinforces why.

My dad once told me, "If you can count your true friends on more than one hand, you're fooling yourself." Rath uses the term "best friend", and adds that you need at least four best friends.

Looks like my dad was ahead of his time.
Aug 10, 2016 Trevor rated it liked it
Shelves: business, 2016
Informative, research-based book that explains how particular relationships enrich your life.

The 8 essential roles are:
Mind Openers

One friend can't be all of these, so we need multiple friends who span each of these roles.
May 08, 2016 Jennifer rated it liked it
As Mr. Rath focuses on work friendships, my current state of unemployment made this a bit difficult to read as I have no work friendships as I have no work! Because I'm not stressed out enough as it is, it did add some anxiety but I will pick it back up again when I am gainfully employed. Hopefully soon.
Apr 12, 2009 Mary-Jo rated it liked it
All based on extensive research and polling by folks with Gallup, examines the roles our various friends play. In particular, focuses on the value of having a best friend at work, claims that we are 7 times more engaged and likely to succeed when we have a best friend on the job.
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ARE YOU FULLY CHARGED?, the latest national bestseller by Tom Rath, was released in mid 2015. Tom's six NYT/WSJ bestsellers have sold more than 6 million copies and made over 300 appearances on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller list. Connect with Tom at:

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