Is making friends at work a good idea? There are those who will tell you that you should keep work and friendship separate. But the statistics from the Gallup Organization tell us that if you have friends at work, then you are much more likely to be engaged, committed, and successful. Given that the average American is going to spend 122,400 hours in the workplace, it is sensible to make the most of it. So, here are 9 ideas to help you make the right friendships at work.
1. Take your time and look around you
If you are new to the job, you will need time to figure out the following about office politics. Who and what factions are involved? Who are the slackers? Who are the bullies? Who are the overly ambitious ? Here is some advice – be helpful and collaborative. This will go a long way to not only getting promoted but also finding wonderful friends.
2. Shyness could be your best ally
Lots of people are shy and they think that this is a disadvantage. In many cases, it could be your best ally because if you are a good listener, this is a great way to attract friends. The fast-talkers and chatterboxes are not nearly as popular as they think!
3. Make connections
It is normal to gravitate towards people who share the same interests and passions. The best trick is to be proactive and ask people about:
- How they spend time outside the office
- What are their interests
- Where they live
- What transportation they use
Once you find a common interest or passion, invite them to share that with you. Instead of saying, ‘Hey, we should get together sometime and do X,’ why not show that you are genuinely interested in getting to know that person. Say something like, ‘Why don’t we get together this weekend to do X?’
4. Invite people
Let’s imagine that your networking efforts have not produced any great results. This is when you invite all the people in your section to go out for a coffee or to have lunch. Don’t worry when only a handful will accept. That will be your shortlist! It is dead simple. It is much better to invite everybody initially so that no one is hurt or feels excluded.
5. Move forward
You are still in an exploratory phase. As you get to know the new friend, here is a useful checklist to bear in mind:
- Ensure that any personal stuff you might share is not going to be reported back to the whole office. You can find out fairly quickly because somebody is bound to mention it. If that is the case, withdraw.
- Office politics should not dominate early conversations. If they do, that is a sign that you could be used as a pawn in a power struggle.
- Explore your own personal situations so you can develop and build on what you have in common.
6. Stay positive
If you are negative, grumpy, and unapproachable, nobody is going to bother to get to know you. What is in it for them? If you project a positive attitude, remain mostly cheerful, and are helpful, then this will help you enormously in your career. Everybody talks about team work and your appraisals and assessments will always reflect this. A person who is unfriendly and sulky is usually voted down as a team player.
7. Avoid these types
Many co-workers go on a crusade against management or other colleagues. It is usually somebody higher up than them in the hierarchy. You hear them complaining all the time. Then there are those who thrive on gossip and enjoy complaining about their colleagues. Just avoid them or nod, smile, and move on.
8. Don’t flaunt your new friends
If you do make a new friend, be careful that you are not creating an exclusive couple or group. Other colleagues may feel left out and uncomfortable if you and your friend are always together.
9. Be a friend in need…
Finally, if you spread good vibes and are a really good team player, a lot of the hard, initial work is already done. Never forget that you will need friends in the workplace because a boss may be a bully or because colleagues may be locked in bitter power struggles where prestige and promotion are the prizes. That’s when you need your friends in the workplace. Work on it!