“The people I work with are now some of my best friends”- for every time we have heard this. While you may have been advised to keep your personal and professional lives separate, the fact is if you’re going to be spending 8 or more hours with other people in an office, might as well learn to make friends at work and have fun with them.
In fact a recent report found out that of 5 million workers over the age of 35, 56 percent who say they have friends at work are more productive and successful than those who don’t.
Sure enough, there’s a lucky set of people who enjoy the benefits of making friends at work, and live fulfilling work lives, but unfortunately making friends at work is not always easy or straightforward. You may not have a common interest to connect on or just the insecurity of trying to be friendly with someone who’s really in the same race as you as may prevent you from making a move.
Especially if you’re new in the organisation, chances are, you’re yet to break the ice with anyone at all, except your immediate boss and the cubicle mate.
And so, we at OfficeChai have made a comprehensive list of practical things and ideas you can use to make friends at work.
Don’t be stuck eating lunch by yourself again.
1. Attend all the trainings and sessions
As a newbie in the organisation, there’s likely to be a series or at least one induction session planned for you. It may be tempting to take a day off and start the next day, but remember this will your first chance to network with other people and the best part is they all are in the same boat as you. If your organisation has a Buddy System in place, sign up for it, and make use of it. Your buddy is a probably a tenured person in the organization who knows it in and out.
From time to time your office may organize training sessions, and you may be too smart for them, but remember training sessions help bond with others as bored as you.
2. Strike a conversation in the office commute
So while you may not have a lot of opportunities to talk to people in a crazy-packed day at work, there’s always a few people who share the office commute with you. Talk with them, get to know what team they work, what their work is like etc. You have a captive audience. (Unless you bore them enough to want to jump out of a moving car!)
3. Participate in fun, non-work activities
Sign up for competitions, sports, etc. Even if you may not be great at anything, just the sheer networking opportunity these events present will help you get off the ground in your friends-making efforts.
4. Initiate activities
Sometimes just waiting for activities to come up doesn’t work. How about your take charge and initiate one? Maybe you’re good at a particular skill you could teach the others. In Google there’s a formal “g2g or the Googler-to-Gooogler programme where anyone with a skill can take a class and teach his colleagues. Take all the opportunities you can to make friends at work.
(Psst, it also works to up your ratings in the employer’s eyes)
5. Just walk around a lot
Maybe you spotted an interesting souvenir on someone’s desk? Try your luck. May you can walk up to the person complimenting them on how beautiful or interesting it is or ask them where it’s from.
6. Add them on social networking sites
So you’re not very comfortable breaking the ice with a colleague in person. There’s someone who sits next to you but never mustered the courage to initiate a conversation. This is for the socially awkward in real life. Add them on Facebook. Maybe a comment on an interesting post will help break the ice.
7. Never say no a networking opportunity
So, you’re invited to an office dinner, party or an outbound and while the idea of hanging with your family or non-work friends may be tempting, office events are far and in few in between. Make good use of them. Get to know people in an informal setting. You never know where the evening may take you.
8. Have a sense of humour to make friends at work
Nobody hates a funny person and there’s nothing like a good joke to have people around you warm up to you. I remember an office introduction session and when a guy was asked why he joined the current company he did, to which he quipped “Noone else would take me”. It cracked everyone else up.
9. Try to get close with a popular person
Sly much? We know. However, sometimes trying to make friends with everyone could backfire, and you could appear to be trying too hard. Instead of focus on a couple of people who come across as friendly, and popular. Chances are they’d introduce you to their friends, maybe even let you in on the clique once or more.
10. Be Approachable
o make friends at work
Maybe someone else has always wanted to talk with you but found you intimidating or difficult to talk with?
If you come across as snobby, introverted or a gossip, they’d probably not bother. Keeping an open mind, and a welcoming desk, and staying away from judgement, gossip or a sense of entitlement would go a long way in making yourself easy to talk with.
11. Bring a home-made goodie or a souvenir from one of your trips
Nothing brings a huddle of people to a desk like moths to a flame like someone offering a delicious home-made treat or a souvenir from a trip.
Next time your mum bakes you those sinful brownies, scoop some and get them to work and send out a “Brownies at my desk” email, and watch yourself become the star of the day.
12. Be nice and friendly
Smile a lot. Leave your grumpiness back at home. And have a generally good disposition around you. Avoid bitching about people. Help whenever possible. Little things like these enable people to trust you and warm up to you and ultimately want to make friends with you.