Having Trouble Fitting In? 4 Ways to Build Office Friendships
Work + Life Balance

Having Trouble Fitting In? 4 Ways to Build Office Friendships

by Samantha Stauf
Photos Joe Kathrina | August 15, 2015

DEVELOPING STRONG RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR COWORKERS WILL MAKE YOUR WORK MORE FULFILLING (AND YOUR MONDAYS FLY BY). FOLLOW THESE TIPS TO UP YOUR BREAK ROOM CONVERSATION GAME.

You landed an interview, skillfully demonstrated your credentials, and held in the excited screams until after you hung up the phone when they offered you the job. Then you remember: you’re the new kid who must somehow manage to cultivate all new relationships.

I can do this,” you told yourself.

On your first day of work, you suddenly remember that you’ve never excelled at making friends. After days of sharp responses, rolled eyes, blank stares, and watching the older employees wander in herds around the office space you begin to wonder, “Do I really need office friends?”

The more work friendships you manage to form, the more you will love your job.

Related: When Colleagues Become Friends

By this point you might have made grand plans about becoming the next office hermit—kill those plans. Work friends are a vital part of a lucrative and productive work environment. The more work friendships you manage to form, the more you will love your job. {Click to Tweet} The more you love your job, the more engaged you will be at work. The more engaged you are at work, the better your chances at learning new skills, performing your tasks skillfully, and achieving your professional goals.

Fear not! By the end of this article, you will be more equipped to attract a large pool of startlingly attractive, weirdly efficient, and ridiculously fun work friends. Let’s be real for a moment—while I can’t predict the aesthetic appeal, the work ethic, or the personality of your future work friends, I can promise that they will at least be real and not a figment of your imagination. Remember: baby steps.

Step 1: Put Yourself Out There

You’re reading an article about how to make friends, so things might seem bad right now. You’ve been caught in a swirling vortex of angst that has sapped your confidence. Buck up. Summon your courage and enthusiasm. In order to make friends, you will need to spend copious amounts of time conversing with your new coworkers.

Start small. Introduce yourself. Keep the introductions short, simple, and clean. Keep the slightly off-color jokes and soul-shattering back stories sealed away for now. Right now, you don’t know enough about your coworkers to determine how they will react to those topics.

Step 2: Determine Friendship Material

Look for signs that you and your coworkers might be compatible. This is a vital step. You only have so many hours you can spend socializing while at work, so you will want to maximize your time by talking to the individuals who you have the highest chance of befriending. {Click to Tweet}

Here are a few signs to look out for:

  • You share similar interests.
  • They don’t convey annoyance, anger, or the need to escape when interacting with you.
  • They seem pleased to speak with you.
  • You have similar skills or responsibilities at work, which you can connect and bond over
Start small. Introduce yourself.

Related: How to Find Your Way When You're Living Alone in a New City

Step 3: Regularly Converse

Once you’ve found your future work bestie, it’s important to talk regularly. Chat online or in person a few times throughout the day.

Again, don’t immediately dive into the heavy topics. Start with conversations about your work experiences, your hobbies, and your shared passions. {Click to Tweet} Things might seem weird at first, but as you become closer, the conversations will begin to flow naturally.

Step 4: Engage in Activities Outside of Work

Interacting outside of work, while not required, will allow your friendship to develop far more quickly. At work, your interactions are limited by the need to perform your professional duties.

You can begin deepening friendships with colleagues by meeting for dinner or coffee or engaging in a recreational activity together. By this point, you should know at least two or three activities you both have an interest in.

If you don’t feel confident asking them to hit the gym with you or to chow down on stellar Mexican food, you might want to start by either attending or organizing an after-work Happy Hour at a nearby bar or restaurant with a group of your colleagues. The group setting offers a safe location, minimal time commitment, and a few other people to fill any awkward silences that could crop up.

[S]tart by either attending or organizing an after-work Happy Hour at a nearby bar or restaurant with a group of your colleagues. The group setting offers a safe location, minimal time commitment, and a few other people to fill any awkward silences that could crop up.

Related: Here's How You Know You've Got a True Work BFF

* * *

Although difficult, forming new friendships is vital to your ability to excel at your new job. By discovering which coworkers you are most compatible with, and conversing regularly in and out of the work environment with those individuals, you’ll be able to form long-lasting and meaningful relationships with your coworkers. 

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