Whether you've been working at your office for a few years or just started a new job, it still can be intimidating when it come to finding ways to become better friends with your coworkers. It can be hard not to feel like an outsider when cliques have already been made or you're not really a social person to begin with. But overall, having friends at work seriously makes the day go by way faster. If you're spending at least 40 hours a week at your job, then you might as well have a little bit of fun while you're there, amiright? Plus, becoming close with your coworkers actually has a lot of health benefits.
"Benefits include emotional support, such that those we work with are people we see and spend time with for a good chunk of our lives. They usually know when something is going on and can provide emotional support. Another benefit is that they can decrease our stress levels; they can motivate us and/or help us out on projects or assignments that we are having difficulty getting done on our own. Furthermore, having friends in the office may help to lessen other problems/issues/stressors going on at home or in our personal lives. Friends in the office can be a good sounding board for us," says author of Surviving Female Friendships: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Nicole Zangara, LCSW, in an interview with Bustle over email.
1. Avoid Office Gossip
You don't want to be perceived as the office gossip or complainer among your coworkers right from the start. Instead, try to discuss other topics that you love and make you happy. "When going out with coworkers after hours, avoid office gossip. Talk about your hobbies or common interests and really get to know your coworker on a deeper level," says clinical social worker and ICF certified life and relationship coach Ava Barron-Shasho, LCSW-C, ACC, in an interview with Bustle over email.
2. Do Team-Building Activities
People tend to bond more easily when they do things together. Try to hang out with fellow employees by doing activities that involve a group effort. "Team building activities such as paint night, escape room, wine tasking or a cooking class, helps bring people together and level the playing field," says Barron-Shasho.
3. Chat With Them During Your Breaks
Sometimes it can be hard to get to know your coworkers when you have a lot on your plate. Find time in between your breaks to chat with them so you don't distract yourself from your work. "If you're finding that your work is starting to decline then maybe it's time to re-evaluate how much time you're spending chatting with your coworkers. It's all about balance. Maybe during lunch or breaks take time to chat with your coworkers, but only during those times," says Zangara.
4. Ask Them About Themselves
If you're the type of who feels awkward talking about themselves, control the conversation by asking them questions to get to know who they are and what they like. "Sometimes just going up to that person and asking them about their weekend or if they have any trips planned can lead to them feeling more comfortable," says Zangara.
5. Keep Topics Workplace Appropriate In The Beginning
"In the beginning, I'd be more cautious as to how much you're sharing. Maybe stay away from disclosing how much you're making, and certain personal topics that are just not appropriate for the workplace. Remember, this is work and rumors can get started very fast!" says Zangara. The last thing you want to do is create animosity or start something you didn't mean to at work. Keep the conversations light and fresh in the beginning before you hit the heavy topics.
6. Invite Them To Hang Out Outside Of The Office
Sometimes people let loose when they're not in the office. Feel free to invite them for happy hour or to hang on the weekend so you guys can talk about stuff other than your boss and workload. "You could invite your fellow employees to lunch or have a get together and invite everyone's significant other. Many times, we feel we can relax more at social gatherings outside of the office, and people tend to be more social at these types of events," says Zangara.
7. Connect Through Humor
If you're anything like me, social anxiety can really interfere with making friends in the beginning. But rather than shying away from a possible awesome connection, try to use humor to break the ice. "The introvert with a wonderful sense of humor or is great at movie trivia, and can use these abilities to connect to fellow coworkers," says Barron-Shasho.
8. Connect Through Social Media
Some of the best ways to break the ice is by simply becoming friends with your coworkers on social media. You can see what they like and post — which could be a great ice breaker to use the next time you guys chat. According to Entrepreneur, don't be afraid to re-tweet, re-share, or comment on other posts. It's a quick and painless way to create a friendly connection.
9. Don't Compete
No one really wants to become friends with you if they feel like you have ulterior motives. Instead of fighting against your coworkers to get to the top of the work ladder, work alongside them to push each other so you both can climb the ladder together. According to the Huffington Post, management professor at the University of Kentucky Christine Riordan, Ph.D., said, "Research demonstrates that we have a tendency to become closer to people with whom we are pursuing common work goals, such as a major project or hitting a target, and with whom we engage in some kind of problem solving — either organizational or personal."