Making Friends in the Work Place
Recently, I took on a new job. My time and efforts have been spent in orientation, getting to know this new company inside and out, and learning what is expected of me in my new role. During the many introductions to all the people who are now my colleagues, between trying to remember faces and names, I am making friends…or at least beginning the process.
One of my first work assignments was to create a seating chart of my co-workers residing on the same floor as me. At first I thought, how elementary and simple is this task? I’ve got it made! As it turns out, the exercise was actually quite a good idea and more beneficial than I originally thought. I ended up hanging the chart in my work space in a deliberate effort to learn the names of those around me. And it’s helped me immensely!
You see, it’s more important than you may think –making friends in the work place can have a real impact on the level of your job satisfaction. Research has shown office relationships boost productivity and morale. Plus, wouldn’t it be nice to have friends where you work? After all, you spend a majority of your time there -probably more than you do with your family.
“Do’s and Don’ts” for developing friendships at work.
- Be sincere. Be genuine. Be nice.
Ask open ended questions of co-workers as a conversation starter. Don’t work to get people interested in you. People appreciate someone who expresses an interest in their life; as opposed to someone who loves to talk and brag only about themselves. You’ll soon find them showing an interest in you.
- Take it slow.
Over the years, I’ve developed many close friendships with people I’ve worked with. With some, I could tell right away that we were going to hit it off, while with others I didn’t anticipate how close we’d become. You just never know, so be patient. Relationships develop over time and it may take a while to find common ground with another person. You don’t want to seem over eager or come across as trying too hard.
- Don’t overshare.
You don’t want to share too many personal details about some of the things going on in your life. For instance, a colleague of mine was going through a divorce and shared the fact with me. This was helpful in understanding the difficult time she was going through. What she didn’t/shouldn’t have shared with me were all the nitty-gritty details of her custody battle. Keep personal information that you share on a need-to-know basis and always remember you are still at work. The New York Times article, “Thank You for Sharing. But Why at the Office?,” recommends asking yourself the following questions before sharing too much with your colleagues about your personal life:
- Who’s listening to me (a boss, a client, a colleague or a friend)?
- Why am I sharing this? What’s the point?
- In this situation, would less be better?
- Have I left my emotional baggage outside the door?
- Does what I am sharing benefit my career or the quality of my work relationships?
I’m trying my best to keep the above guidelines in mind as I navigate my new place of employment. I’m greeting people with a pleasant smile and addressing each person by name. I’m also constantly reminding myself that it’ll take time to develop the sort of friendships I see others engaged in. In due time, that could just as well be me sitting at the table with a colleague chatting and reminiscing about a weekend event we shared.
What do you think was one of the biggest challenges to overcome while making friends at work?
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