Workplace friends are vital not just for personal happiness at a job, but also important to career success. Many people have been known to quit their jobs, not because they hated the job, but because they were unable to make any good friends. Negative work relations can be a stressful affair that has repercussions to your personal life and future career as well. It might be for this very reason that most adults find it quite challenging to make friends in the workplace, as everybody has their guards up in order to not reveal any vulnerability.
If you are new to a workplace setting, or if you are simply facing problems in connecting with your coworkers, then try the following tips on how to make friends at work:
Be patient: Firstly, Don’t rush or force a friendship. Most people work in an organization for at least around a year, and you can thus be sure your coworkers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So don’t be hasty and take your time. Start with simple greetings and gradually move on to grabbing coffee and then lunch together.
Participate: Most organizations have all sorts of events and gatherings being held from time to time, and they provide for an excellent opportunity to make friends and expand your network within the organization. If you are part of a large organization, you might find yourself only interacting with colleagues in your own department. Participating in these gatherings provide for great opportunities to meet and befriend people from other departments.
Find commonalities: Randomly trying to spark conversations with co-workers can create awkward situations of silences, and you might find yourself not knowing what to say in order to move the conversation forward. Such awkward situations could only make your quest for friendship worse. Its best to first find a common interest such as gym, movies, sports etc., before engaging your colleague in a full conversation. Talking about these common interest leads to more fruitful conversation and also provides opportunities to better your friendship by doing these activities together.
Add them on Social Media: Social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, can be of great assistance in effectively befriending your coworker. You can get a lot of information on your colleagues’ interests, activities and even personality simply by going through their social media accounts. If you are shy or cannot find the nerve to approach someone in person, then chatting with them on social media is also an effective way to break the ice. However, be sure to physically talk to the person as well, otherwise you will just seem weird.
Don’t overshare: Friendship in the workplace is a bit different from friendship in schools and colleges. In schools and colleges, most friends are almost immediately open about their backgrounds, habits, likes and dislikes. In the workplace it is not much so. In an effort to be friends with someone, you might be tempted to reveal all sorts of personal details about your life, but it is advisable not to do so. It could have an opposite effect and it might actually deter people from seeing you as a potential friend. It’s best to stick to common interests, at least until he/she has become really close to you as a friend.
Things to be
When going around making friends in the workplace, there are a few things you should be particularly careful about so as not to damage your career:
The Office Hierarchy: Befriending your boss and your seniors are always tricky. Firstly, always address them with respect within the organization even if they are very casual with you outside. This respect must be maintained even if your boss is younger to you. Additionally, you must always be mindful of how far you want to take your friendship with a manager who will ultimately assess you and is responsible for your promotions and recognitions. Being seemingly too friendly can be interpreted as “sucking up” and accused of favoritism by your colleagues. Be careful to assess such situations properly.
Confidentiality: Certain work related things cannot be shared, even amongst friends. For instance, you might have some sensitive information regarding the company’s future plans which should not be currently knowledgeable to your close work friend. You should not give away such information even by making him/her promise not to tell anyone. Alternatively, you might have made a grave mistake at work. Don’t take a chance of conveying it to a friend you do not trust with your soul. It’s best just not to share such information at all. In both cases, a leak by any chance would only be detrimental to your own career.
Office Politics: All workplaces will have a certain amount of office politics. There could be backstabbing, spreading of malicious rumors, and other gossips within the organization. It’s important not get drawn into such negative interactions, just to make friends. Don’t be tempted to join these gossip groups that spread negativity in the workplace. Keep your focus on engaging with colleagues in a simple and positive manner.