You may be tempted to put your head down, do your work, and head home without ever connecting, but if you can form good relationships at work, you’ll be happier and healthier.
Should I Make Friends at Work? YES!
The common adage that your coworkers are not your friends draws a hard line around a sometimes complicated relationship dynamic. Most people spend more of their waking hours with colleagues than with family. No matter how professional you hope to be, you rely on healthy relationships everywhere in life. As it turns out, the office is one of the best places to find and forge lasting relationships — they boost your workplace satisfaction as well as your health and happiness. Learn how to nurture those friendships well, and you’re set for life. Here’s your guide.
What Being “Professional” at Work Really Means
Many well-meaning professionals have used strong boundaries to create too much distance in the workplace, where others created too few boundaries and found themselves in trouble. People who are too cold can isolate themselves, and their colleagues may find them uncomfortable to work with. Those who are too open can create personal issues among colleagues that harm workplace culture and productivity. So, how do you find the sweet spot? Basically, by being a good person.
Be kind and respectful to everyone you work with, regardless of your relationship, where you’re connecting, and whether or not they’re present. Rely on these tips for mastering the art of having meaningful conversations.
Be polite and converse with coworkers you don’t consider your friends as well as those you do.
Don’t allow friendships prevent you from doing your job the right way or having important work-related conversations in a diplomatic fashion
How to Make Friends at Work
Workplace friendships warm up at a slower pace than those that grow from a shared interest. What do you talk to them about before you know what they’re into? How do you redirect when Sam starts going off about politics because you mentioned the morning news? You want to start off on the right foot, and you might be afraid of jumping in too deep before you know you’re not that into them. Here are some tips for building friendships with colleagues:
Ask Meaningful Questions:
Inquire about their neighborhood, their favorite local food spots, and how they ended up working with this company.
When you greet people, instead of asking them “how” their weekend or night went, ask what they did, so you can get a feel for your shared interests.
Take Breaks Together with Coworkers:
If lunch is too much of a commitment, invite them to go walk with you to get some air. Go somewhere outside the office, even if it’s just a picnic table outside the door, so you can converse without distracting anyone.
Taking Friendships at Work Beyond the Office
Fortunately for all of us scarred by playground rejections, the workplace is much more polite and far less rushed. Take your time learning about people and establishing healthy boundaries before you venture an invite outside of the office. Group gatherings are a safe start, but if you’re comfortable, it’s perfectly professional to invite them to coffee. These suggestions work well in order, allowing you to develop a repertoire without putting yourself on the spot by going.
Plan Activities with Coworkers:
Be the one who suggests birthday and anniversary lunches off site, so you get a glimpse of what they’re like outside of the office.
Host an Event:
Have the whole team over or just invite a few people — and keep the booze light to avoid getting to know their party side too quickly.
Coworkers Can Be Friends:
Do friend things! Grab coffee, see a concert, hit happy hour, or watch that new release you’ve been talking about together. Basically plan the kind of events with coworkers that you’d do with your friends.
Remember some of your coworkers are unique people with their own personalities. Learn more about how introverts and extroverts can connect at work and find balance.
The Importance of Friends in the Workplace
It really can’t be overstated: If you can form strong relationships with coworkers, you’ll be happier and healthier. You may be tempted to put your head down, do your work, and head home without ever connecting. If that works for you, make sure it works for your colleagues as well. They may need the chitchat to trust and enjoy working with you. Office friendships provide most of us with the day-to-day interactions we need to feel supported and seen. Not only do they allow you to be on good terms with people on your team, but they also enable you to have everyday access to a solid, understanding support group that’s well-versed in your workplace challenges.
Many of the things that prevent you from forging good friendships in the workplace can be overcome with clear communication and good boundary setting, so don’t let your reservations hold you back. Start creating meaningful connections and friendships at work in your own life.