Even if you’re the sort who prefers to keep your work and home life separate, workplace friendships make long days more bearable. They help each day go by faster, and they can even boost your productivity in some cases.
How do you go about finding friends at work, especially if you’re introverted? What if you work a flexible schedule or telecommute — are you out of luck? Definitely not.
Here are 10 tips for making friends, no matter where and how you work.
1. Ask what you can do to help
The easiest way to make friends in the workplace involves asking what you can do to help. See a co-worker struggling with a door due to a huge stack of blueprints in their hands? Offer to open it for them! Notice a colleague stuck on a big project, ripping out her hair? Ask her what’s wrong and how you can assist.
Everyone appreciates someone willing to go the extra mile to assist. By showing a willingness to help, you indicate you’re a team player — a key characteristic of a good friend.
2. Identify potential mentors
Seeking a workplace mentor helps you learn the spoken, and more importantly, unspoken rules of the office. Additionally, mentors help you clarify your career goals and aid you on the path to success.
Start by identifying someone you admire. Then, approach her, asking if she has time to meet with you for lunch or coffee. Treat, and ask if she’d be willing to help you — make it clear you intend to do your part to return the favor.
3. Seek co-workers with similar habits
If you espouse a vegan lifestyle, perhaps you could look for co-workers with a similar diet. Are you a hardcore gamer? Strike up a conversation with the colleague who also sports a “World of Warcraft” poster in her cubicle. Whatever your unique interests are, try to find your tribe in the office. It gives you an instant starting point for conversations, making ice-breaking easier.
4. Use active listening
When you interact with your colleagues, are you paying attention — and showing it? Or are you looking down at your phone or gazing at your laptop?
If you want people to like you, pay attention when they speak with you. Instead of thinking about your reply, get out of your head and focus on the speaker’s words. Nod your head, make eye contact and add appropriate interjections. When people feel you truly hear them, they’ll confide in you more often.
5. Attend some work-related functions
If your employer puts on a staff party at an arcade or nearby park to build morale, attend. If you telecommute far from your hub location, this complicates matters — but if your company offers to pay your travel expenses, by all means, go.
The same goes for the annual holiday party and anniversary jam. You don’t have to stay until last call, but pass on cutting out immediately following dinner. Mix and mingle!
6. Eat lunch with a group
It’s tempting to eat at your desk, especially if you’re trying to impress the boss, but doing so won’t win you workplace friends. Instead, take a break — research shows it boosts your productivity — and nosh with your co-workers. It may take courage the first time, but once you break the ice, you’ll look forward to your daily chats.
7. Go along to happy hour
Not invited to happy hour with the fellas if you work in a male-dominated STEM field? Invite yourself along! A simple, “Hey, where are you guys headed?” does the trick. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy kicking back with a cold one — in moderation, of course.
8. Work out together
If you’re fortunate enough to have a gym at work, start hitting it on your break or the end of the day to chat with co-workers. No facility in the office? Ask a fit colleague for gym recommendations nearby.
9. Keep a positive attitude
Few people enjoy hanging out with a Negative Nancy, and being more positive requires changing your mindset through practice. When you’re mingling, strive to keep things light and positive. You may find you feel more upbeat once you act like it!
10. Be genuine
Finally, most people have a nose for fakes, and they instinctively avoid people who come off as disingenuous. Be yourself. Present the best version of you to be sure, but pass on lying or even stretching the truth. Keep it real.
Making friends at work
Workplace friendships ease stress and can prove critical to career growth. Companies tend to promote those who play well with others, so get started on forming meaningful relationships at the office today.