Before entering the working world, sharing the same classes or living nearby to someone was a pretty sure fire way of striking up a friendship. But now that you’re older and have your own life and clique outside of the office, it’s even harder for work friendships to blossom; it’s far easier to just keep to yourself.
Here are 6 easy steps to making friends at work.
So what is the recipe for a work friendship?
Researchers at Washington State University found that, within their study, the transition from co-worker to friend was due to close-proximity, common ground and socialising outside of the office. But the most interesting point to take from their study is that sharing personal details, or even secrets, is the key to a closer and more genuine friendship. Thinking back to your school days, this makes sense, right? But in the working environment, the time and place for sharing secrets about your life is a lot harder to come by. The question, therefore, is how to perfectly curate a work friendship, without it seeming fake or forced.
Just like anything that’s going to improve your life, you want to start it off on a positive note. Don’t assume you’ll make friends by complaining in the hope that they’ll reciprocate. Yes, work friendships are great for being able to have a moan away from prying ears, but if you can bring positivity to someone’s day, then you’re the sort of person they’ll want to spend more time with. After all, first impressions are very important.
2. Look for common ground
By dipping your toes into the Netflix habits of your colleague, you’ll probably find some common ground to get you started. Failing that, just asking questions about their weekend, or mentioning yours will surely find a shared interest or love that you both hold.
3. Find them on social media
You might already have them on Facebook because they popped up as ‘recommended’ – but dig deeper. Find them on other the networks you use; be it Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, YouTube etc. The more you can learn about their out-of-work activities, the more you’ll have to connect over. Oh, and don’t forget to interact with what they post!
4. Be patient
Don’t try and rush the process. While solid friend relationships need secrets to fully mature, you don’t want to overload anyone too soon. Share small bite-size amounts of what makes you tick at first, and move onto the more secretive aspects of your life further down the line.
5. Don’t just discuss work!
You’ve already established common ground that isn’t your job, so make the most of it. By opening up about non-work topics, you’ll bring positivity to the conversation and even more mutual ground for you to bond over.
6. Spend more time together outside of work
Start off with work get-togethers, like heading to the pub on a Friday, or management-organised events. As you get to know each other more, get their phone number. Make plans with them for lunch dates, invite them to your birthday drinks (but invite other work people, as they might not come alone), or attend work-based outings together. Plus, the more time spent bonding outside of the office means that, when at work, you won’t appear to be excluding others (or wasting company time).