Having friends at work makes a huge difference in your overall workplace happiness, engagement, and stress levels. In recent years, people are developing social connections less and less than in the past. Because we are able to keep in touch with our friends from outside of work so easily through social media, and due to productivity and efficiency expectations, our focus on workplace friendships has decreased as a society. We stay in jobs for less time than we used to, frequently changing companies and departments. Because work can be so demanding, many of us want to keep our personal/social lives separate from our work lives. While your work friend certainly doesn't have to be as close as friends you have outside of work, feeling cordial, supported, and connected to individuals in the workplace has many positive impacts on productivity, mental health and longevity in a role.
It can be challenging to develop work friendships as many busy, stressful work environments might not be the best environments for connecting with someone. Here are some strategies to try to build a social connection in your workplace:
1. Skip small talk
Try to focus on some common ground that you both have. This could be a common interest like an affinity for basketball, jazz music, or hiking, or simply funny things your kids did on the weekend. If you don't know what these common interests are, simply ask "what do you do outside of work?" as a place to start. Be mindful of over sharing information that might be inappropriate in the workplace.
2. Focus on the positives
Take some time to congratulate your co-worker on a job well done, or emphasize how impressed you were with their presentation or project. Perhaps you can use a job well done as an excuse to take a colleague out for a coffee or lunch, which can be a great time to foster a friendship.
3. Avoid gossip
Talking about other colleagues or the boss you all hate can be a good way to bond with colleagues, but this often builds a relationship in a negative way. It may help you connect with one individual but will probably alienate everyone else, so stay away from focusing on office gossip. Be friendly, polite, open and engaging to develop positive relationships.
Do you have any other strategies for building positive relationships at work? What has worked for you?
Cover image from Career Tool Belt