How To Make Friends With Your Co-Workers, Since You Spend So Much Time Together Anyway

Ad failed to load

For the third year in a row, Bustle's Upstart Awards are honoring young women who are doing incredible things in the realms of business, STEM, fashion and beauty, the arts, philanthropy, and beyond. Want to be an Upstarts honoree one day? Read on for career tips, insights, and inspiration to help get you there.

For many adults, our whole lives revolve around work — and we end up spending a lot of time with people in the office. If you are wondering how to make friends with your co-workers in a way that is fulfilling without presenting any risks, you're not alone. Getting close to colleagues even simply as friends can have the same potential pitfalls as dating your co-worker, which we all know is another big gamble.

It's hard not to become friends with your co-workers, since you likely spend more time with them than anyone else. You form a bond because you share this (rather large) common ground: same employer, similar goals, similar struggles, same group of friends and acquaintances. We celebrate birthdays and holidays together, and commiserate together over annoying bosses, heavy workloads, or unfair pay.

Ad failed to load

Sure enough, research has found that friendship at work is beneficial in a number of ways. According to Moritz Kothe, CEO of kununu, "Our reviews have shown that employees need balance when it comes to bonding and making friends. Time in and out of the office to connect as a team can really help strengthen morale and make work more fun, as well as easier to do in the long run."

But, if you're still a little worried about getting too close to your office mates, here are a few general dos and don'ts to keep in mind.

Ad failed to load
Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

While workplace friendships can enhance your career experience, make work more enjoyable, and improve your creativity and productivity, there's a lot more to it than simply buddying up to your work wife and going on your merry way. Even once you've become friends with a co-worker, it's important to remember that this type of friendship isn't the same as a friendship that buds outside the workplace, for one major reason: the relationship was created in an environment you totally rely on for financial security, making that the top priority, as opposed to the friendship. There's so much more at stake; and whether we like to admit it or not, at the end of the day, the friendship has to take the back burner to the paycheck.

Furthermore, workplace friendships are at risk of fizzling out faster than other types of friendships, since work is the common ground on which everything was formed. What if one of you leaves the job? Gets moved to another department? The factor that made you friends in the first place — work — disappears, and the friendship might also.

Ad failed to load

So, what can one do to foster a genuine relationship that's not headed toward friendship breakup and won't jeopardize your position at work?

Bryan Apen/Unsplash
Ad failed to load

If making friends with co-workers doesn't feel all that natural to you to begin with, maybe it needs a little push: "Start going to lunch or get a coffee midday together," Nina Rubin, professional life coach, tells Bustle in an email. "Let the conversation slide from work stuff to the things you're doing — share about your hobbies and interests," she says. Other topics worth discussing? "Pets, favorite foods, vacation and travel, where you live, weekend plans — all fine," Laura MacLeod, LMSW, of From the Inside Out Project, tells Bustle. "As you get to know people and trust is built, you can deepen this conversation, but this is how to start."

Erica McCurdy, MCC, tells Bustle, "Making friends at work is a little like an old fashioned courtship instead of a hook-up. You have chaperones everywhere and you need to take your time getting to know the other person. Little deposits of interest over time will yield a stronger work friendship than diving into a 'bestie' relationship right away." In other words, don't try to rush things.

Ad failed to load
Ben White/Unsplash

While it may see obvious, you should never gossip about other people at work. "It will make you look petty and untrustworthy," Rubin says.

Yes, untrustworthy: because if you're willing to talk nasty about other people to your friend, there's reason to believe you'll talk nasty about her to other people.

Ad failed to load

Another thing to watch out for? Forming groups that others don't feel like they can be a part of: "Try to be inclusive versus exclusive with your workplace friendships so you don't come across as cliquey and start to send a poor message to those around you," suggests Alina Tubman, career consultant and coach.

McCurdy also offers some helpful words of wisdom regarding a workplace friendship no-no: keep it clean! "Avoid the use of off-color language, telling jokes or assuming political, religious, or sexual preferences. No matter how close you eventually become, some topics don’t belong in the workplace as they might make others uncomfortable and may cause problems later. Save those conversations for times when you are away from work and have a better sense of what conversations are welcome and appropriate."

Instead, as Entrepreneur points out, try to find things in common — aside from your jobs. Are you both obsessed with Game of Thrones? (Probably.) Do you love hot yoga? Does your heart race at the mere thought of Trader Joe's $5 white wine? Don't limit yourselves to nothing but work talk.

Ad failed to load

Another way to get closer to co-workers in a more casual way is to add them on social media, once an appropriate amount of time has passed. This could help break the ice without breaking any boundaries. It shows you're taking an interest in their life and want to have a friendship outside of your job.

Bence Boros/Unsplash

Just make sure you don't get friendlier online than you're willing to be in person — a tendency many of us are susceptible to, because talking online is so much easier than doing so in person. Stay true to the growing friendship, and who you are.

Ad failed to load

Forming personal relationships at work is a bit like walking a tightrope, with numerous things to look out for and avoid; but very often, these will be bonds that last for years. Don't miss the opportunity to connect with new people; just make sure your priorities are straight and you're treading with care.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The 5 Rom-Coms You Need To Read This Summer, According To Someone Who Writes Them

'Tis the season for rom-coms. The weather is warm, the sun is shining, and everyone is rocking the flirtiest items in their wardrobe. I don't know about you, but summer always takes me back to my teenage years — and that automatically makes me want t…
By Cristina Arreola

11 Tiny Sunglasses That Will Make You Look Even Cooler Than Kylie Jenner

You know what they say — the tinier the sunglasses, the more stylish the outfit. OK, that's not really a saying, but it seems to be the case these days. Basically every celebrity, model, and It person has been spotted sporting tiny sunglasses as part…
By Sara Tan

9 Ways This Royal Wedding Was Way More Modern Than Past Ones

The newly named Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, made history with their storybook courtship and wedding. What's more, there are myriad ways the royal wedding 2018 was more modern than previous royal weddings. From deciding…
By Brandi Neal

10 Little-Known British Traditions Meghan Markle Will Learn When She Marries Prince Harry

As an American woman dating a Brit, I am no stranger to the mishaps that can result from the cultural differences between the U.S. and England. And while I'm sure Meghan Markle has a slew of royal traditions to learn, titles to remember, and fancy ha…
By Kristin Magaldi

I've Paid $18,000 To A $24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $24,000

It all became real the summer before my senior year of college. It was 2010, and my home phone still had a cord, which I wrapped around my fingers as I waited not-so-patiently for the apathetic representative on the other end to tell me the bad news …
By Kaitlyn Cawley

12 Personality Quizzes That Will Help You Determine Your Exact Strengths

Learning more about yourself can be tough. It's so easy to observe others to learn what makes them tick, what areas they really excel in, and the things they could be better at. Doing that to yourself, however, is a whole different story. That's exac…
By Jessica Booth

5 Brand New Short Story Collections You Can Finish In One Sitting This Weekend

Since 2013, May has been known by book-lovers by another name: Short Story Month. If you're ready to kick off this year's celebration the right way, make sure to pick up a short story collection to read over the weekend. Modern life moves more than …
By Sadie Trombetta

I Got Styled By 'Queer Eye's Tan France & Realized I Still Have A Lot Of Fashion "Rules" To Unlearn

When I walked into a New York City Express store on May 2 to get styled by Queer Eye's Tan France, I was ready for anything. And I mean truly anything. I am such a massive fan of the show and Tan that if he had instructed me to wrap myself in tin foi…
By Olivia Muenter

It Isn’t Bad To Have A “Princess Fantasy” — Mine Made Me The Woman I Am Today

What do you want to be when you grow up? If you were anything like me as a kid, at some point, the answer to that question was "a princess." Thanks to good old-fashioned gender stereotypes, most little girls born in the '90s (and even now) grew up in…
By Nicole Pomarico

9 Mother's Day Gifts For Your Mom That Also Give Back

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and unless you’re the type who’s got gift-giving on lock months in advance — and seriously, who is that person? — you might be scrambling a bit for great Mother's day 2018 gift ideas. And while it’s important to cho…
By Carolyn de Lorenzo

Here’s How To Get A FREE 30-Minute Facial At Sephora That Sucks Your Pores Clean

Sephora has long been a mecca for both serious and amateur beauty lovers alike, where they not only have makeup artists that help answer questions about products, but free samples to let you play with new collections. But now they have upped the ante…
By Marlen Komar

Kris Jenner Is FINALLY Launching A Makeup Line With Kylie

Maybe you don't have a favorite sister of the Kar-Jenner clan, and that's perfectly fine. The one thing you can't deny, though, is that when it comes power, no one in that family has more than the world famous momager. Now, Kris Jenner x Kylie Cosmet…
By Shea Simmons

This Kendall Jenner “Diva” Moment Is Really Being Taken Out Of Context

The fashion always takes center stage at the Met Gala, but there's usually a little drama, too. And this time, a member of the Kardashian-Jenner family is involved. People are buzzing about how Kendall Jenner shoved someone at the Met Gala, but after…
By Nicole Pomarico

Feel Like You've Seen Everything On Netflix? Add These Movies To Your Watch List

The weekend may feel too far away, but if you're lacking formal plans, a Netflix marathon session is always a good idea. If you're an avid viewer, however, you probably feel like you've seen everything the streaming platform has to offer already. In …
By Ashley Rey

These 4 Zodiac Signs Are Going To Have The Best Luck In Love This May

Spring fever is here, but not all signs in the zodiac are dealt the same dose of lovin'. Some signs are going to have a better love lives than the rest of us in May, because that's just the way the cookie crumbles. According to astrologer Linda Furia…
By Kaitlyn Wylde

Hillary Clinton Says She's Ready To Fight Like A Republican — EXCLUSIVE

Hillary Clinton Is Not Going Away Quietly. Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly Into The Night? Unlike Losers Before Her, Clinton Is Not Going Gently Into the Night. These headlines, which appeared in various news outlets over the course of the last…
By Catherine Thompson and Jenny Hollander

Here's The Very Best Time To Book Your Summer Vacation If You're Trying To Save Money

Summer is a great time to travel, for obvious reasons. The weather is better. Many offices are more lax about time off. If you have kids, they’re out of school. But there’s one very important element that makes summer not a great time to travel: Cost…
By Emma McGowan