Your job can be a great place to make new friends as an adult. After all, people in your industry might have a lot in common with you. Having a friendly face to chat with over lunch can boost morale and make working more enjoyable. But many of us struggle with exactly how to make friends at work.
Part of the challenge is that there is a bit of a moral dilemma. On one hand, we spend a good chunk of our lives with our colleagues and naturally will have lots to talk about. On the other hand…it feels weird to get wine drunk with someone you have to be buttoned up around the next day.
There are certain people you should avoid becoming overly friendly with – like your manager. But if you’re looking to foster some colleague friendships, follow these tips.
How to Make Friends at Work: 9 Tips
1. Don’t let your professionalism overshadow your personality.
We get it: you want to put your professional foot forward in work settings. Especially after watching all of those scary HR videos. But there’s a way to appear polished without having a stick up your you-know-what.
Crack (appropriate) jokes, laugh when someone says something funny, and be willing to engage in conversations throughout the work day. Nothing screams “unapproachable” like that intense coworker who always keeps to themselves and never looks up from their computer.
2. Take genuine interest in your colleagues.
The best way to show interest in someone is to ask questions. Of course, you don’t want to interrogate them about their personal life immediately. But you should do things like asking about their weekend plans on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons.
When people feel like you’re interested in their life, they naturally will like you better. Asking your coworker Katy about how her day trip to Cape Cod went on Monday morning will make her day and encourage her to keep you top of mind the next time she pulls a group together for post-work drinks.
3. Always say “yes” to social opportunities with coworkers.
Many employers offer social outings for employees to bond. RSVP yes to parties, drinks after work, summer sports leagues, and whatever else your culture committee has to offer – especially in the first year at your new job.
Even if you’re not a kickball fanatic, you might make a few friends while bonding over the post-kickball pints of beer. Bonus points if you’re willing to laugh at yourself.
4. Get involved with planning social activities for your team.
Once you feel comfortable enough with your employer and colleagues, offer to help plan fun events. It will give you the chance to bring your team to the best bars and escape rooms *and* allow you to avoid those awkward kickball outings.
Plus, as the organizer, you have an easy conversation starter with everyone in the office who plans to attend.
5. Bring food to work.
Nothing brings coworkers (or, like, anyone) together like free food.
Stop by the local doughnut shop to bring in a dozen, or dump a few bags of candy into the candy jar. Throughout the work day, you’ll hear whispers of “who brought this?” followed by the inevitable “thank you” and “you’re the real MVP.” Instant in.
6. Initiate a networking chat.
If you see someone who looks cool on another team, invite them to coffee under the premise of “learning more about their role.” People generally like to help others. If you ping that fun gal in sales and tell her you’re considering a career like hers – even if it’s a lie – chances are she’ll be down to grab a coffee.
Use networking opportunities as a way to get to know others within your company. Especially if everyone on your team is a snooze. A work-oriented coffee could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship! And who knows? Sales might be the career of your dreams.
7. Be a good team player.
You could have the best personality, but if you’re annoying to work with, you can kiss workplace friendships goodbye. Some things to avoid within your working relationships include:
- Not doing what you say you will
- Consistently delivering work late
- Talking behind others’ backs
- Micro-managing others
- Failing to review your work
- “Telling on” coworkers who make minor mistakes
The list goes on and on, but just try to be good to work with. Otherwise, you will form enemies before you even have a chance to show others how cool you are outside of your nine-to-five.
8. Find commonalities.
You’ll never know exactly how much you have in common with your coworkers until you ask. Did you go to the same college? Are you from the same town? Did you used to work for the same employer? Do both of you live in the same neighborhood?
Use these things to bond with your colleagues. They could even open up opportunities to hang outside of work. For example, if you and your coworker both went to Texas A&M and live in Cincinnati, Ohio, you might be the best (or only) pairing who wants to go catch the game at the local sports bar.
9. Don’t try to befriend everyone.
Namely, don’t try to befriend your boss. This isn’t to say some bosses wouldn’t make for a great friend. But it does add a layer of complication. Being chummy with your manager could make both parties fearful of delivering necessary feedback, which will land you in a toxic work environment or stunt your career growth.
Plus, the odd power dynamic can quickly lead to resentment. Furthermore, telling someone in senior leadership about all of your wild weekend escapades could land you in hot water. Tread carefully.
Ultimately, you’ll want to avoid getting too close with anyone who controls your paycheck and reputation in the workplace. This isn’t to say you can’t have a fun, friendly relationship with these people, but maybe refrain from inviting them to your birthday party. Capeesh?