Friends make a huge impact in our happiness and quality of life. It goes without saying that the friendships that we forge within the confines of our offices contribute to the desirability of our entire working experience. More than the promise of good compensation, the bonds you create at work add a significant layer to the often complex working life most individuals. Friends, if anything, are very good in motivating us to get up and do our jobs every day.
Simply put, friends make work a lot more bearable to deal with. Life coach and CEO to GirlFriendCircles.com Shasta Nelson stresses the importance of friends at work saying, “We will put up with a lot of stress and non-ideal job descriptions if we like the people we work with, so I’d say (building friendships are) worth being a pretty high priority at work.”
Not only can our friends help us through the difficult times at work but the mere fact that we feel connected to others or that we belong within a certain group can give us both the assurance and confidence to help us make through all those busy work days .
Ron Friedman, psychologist and author of the book, The Best Place To Work, highlights workplace friendships as the best predictor of productivity. “In fact, many scientists now believe it’s impossible to perform at our best unless we feel connected to others,” says Friedman. He goes on to talk about people’s inherent need to socialize or connect with others. According to him, when this need isn’t fulfilled, the working experience can be both painful and even psychologically damaging.
Yes, the bonds and relationships we make at work really do matter. But how does one go about making healthy and lasting friendship at work? Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Open yourself up to the possibility of making friends
This is always an important first step in making friends whether you are inside or outside the office. If you don’t have any interest to make new friends to begin with, then you are definitely not going to make one. But if you want to make new friends, then open yourself up and start by showing genuine interest in getting to know the people you work with.
If you can, be the first one to break the ice so you start making friends immediately. Of course, it may be a little awkward for you to make the first move but a smile and short greetings like “hi” and “hello” can go a long way.
Find individuals with similar interests
Lasting friendships are created by shared experiences as well as interests. In your first few days or weeks in the office, you may find a few individuals who share your love for obscure Nordic popular music or your secret obsession with crafting. If you cultivate these similarities you share with other people long enough, you will find that it’s not that hard to make new friends at all.
You can start by talking about trivial stuff like sports, movies or your penchant for getting a t-shirt for every province you visit in the country. It won’t take long before you discover the things you have in common and from there, a lasting friendship may potentially blossom.
Accept after-office invites whenever you can
There’s an unwritten rule in offices about keeping one’s personal and professional life separate. While it may seem like a better option to spend your after-office hours alone or with the same old peers that you’ve had all your life, at least try to accept any invites from your new office mates whenever you can.
Whether it’s drinks or just a regular dinner, making an effort to be with your office mates after work is a sign that you are willing to take your initially-awkward relationship with them to another level. At the same time, the gesture of inviting you to hangout after work is often an informal initiation of some sort, allowing you and them to test the waters and see if you have ‘chemistry’ with the group.
Take things to another level
Lasting friendships are built on a personal level. If you feel comfortable enough with your new found friend/s then the next logical step would be taking things to a more personal level. This often means being open enough to talk about things like your life outside work and inviting them to be part of it.
However, inviting your new-found friends to your personal life doesn’t mean foregoing all semblance of formality, most especially in the office. Sure, you may have gotten glimpse of your office mate in his most embarrassing wasted state but that doesn’t mean respect is ruled out all together.
Remember that if you are at work, you are still expected to behave in a manner that’s deemed appropriate and professional. You can have fun outside of work but be ready to get down to business when the situation calls for it. After all, what makes a healthy and lasting friendship at work is the ability to work within you limits and boundaries.
Most importantly, healthy and lasting friendships take a lot of time and hard work to materialize. You may not be able to succeed on finding the right friends at work immediately but that doesn’t mean that you can never find them.