Starting a new job comes with many new experiences. You have to get used to a different commute, a new supervisor, and more than likely, different responsibilities. Needless to say, getting acclimated to your surroundings can be a task in itself. But if you plan on spending 40+ hours a week somewhere for the foreseeable future, you might as well make some friends along the way. Here are some things to keep in mind when establishing new friendships at work:
Reintroduce yourself and follow up
During your first day and throughout your first week, your manager should introduce you to your teammates and other colleagues throughout the office. But don’t let the buck stop there. Take the initiative and, during some down time, reintroduce yourself to some people who work immediately around you. A simple “good morning” or “how are you?” can go a long way to establish yourself as a polite and personable person. These might be baby steps on the journey to establishing a friendship at work, but it’s small talk like this that helps build a rapport with your coworkers.
Show them what you got
Listening is the foundation of any friendship. Build upon the small talk you’ve had with coworkers over the first few weeks by expanding your conversations based on mutual interests. Whether it’s sports, music, movies, friends and/or family, these discussions require a proactive effort from you to revisit these topics and continue an ongoing dialogue. If you don’t feel comfortable with this, you can indirectly entice people to come talk to you. A good way to do this is by decorating your desk with a bunch of things that are dear to you. Pictures, posters, and other memorabilia of things of interest should generate discussions at some point and you can run with the conversations from there on your grounds.
Make yourself available (professionally & socially)
Two words to keep in mind in establishing a friendship at work: dependability and availability. The last thing you want to do is agitate someone because you’re not doing your work. To stay on good terms with everyone, always complete your work in a timely, effective, and efficient manner. Don’t be afraid to ask or offer your help either. Working in close quarters with a coworker on a simple task or project can build camaraderie and respect. When it’s time to socialize, make yourself available, when possible. Eat lunch away from your desk and ask if you can join others or if others would like to join you. If there’s a work happy hour, try to attend when you can. Even if you’re not a drinker, hanging out with coworkers outside of office allows them to see you in a more relaxed, comfortable environment where authentic conversations can occur. Just remember to always keep it professional.
Go the extra mile
Once you’ve gained an understanding of where you work, who you work for, and who you work with, you can give yourself a green light to try and begin molding your friendships properly. While some people become a product of their environment, you’ll be more in control if you make your environment a product of you. You can do this by adhering to both yours and your coworkers interests and setting up activities both in and outside of the office. For example, if your company has a corporate league of some sort, join it. If not, start it. Sports are a great way to keep everyone active, engaged, and helps to take their minds off of work for a bit after a long day in the office. If there’s a strong interest in literature, joining or starting a book club is another great way to build friendships. Another smart idea is through food. The quickest way into someone’s minds and hearts is via their stomach, so sharing recipes and treats is a solid way to be socially engaged with coworkers.
Be social, but professional
As many things as you can do to make friends at work, there’s an abundance of unprofessional things that you should avoid. For example, oversharing is a big taboo in a work setting. If your coworkers are just meeting you, ranting about your trials and tribulations is not something they want to engage in with a new face at the office. Adding to that, complaining about work, either the previous or current job, doesn’t bode well for a new employee. It gives off a pessimistic vibe and can easily alienate you from the group. Speaking of groups, gossiping about or trying to outshine someone with simple tasks will definitely ruffle some feathers, especially coming from a newly hired employee. Other things like trying to friend everyone on social media immediately can be quite off-putting. The list goes on and it all depends on where you work and who you work with, so use your judgement and act accordingly.