You got a new job – woohoo! A quick internet search or a quick chat with your new company’s HR person will help you learn a lot of the thing you might need to know in order to be successful…except how to make friends.
It’s not about being popular either. Having friends at work is a huge contributor to workplace happiness and engagement, so it really does matter from a professional and practical level too. Below is a bit of helpful advice about how to make new friends at work that you can easily apply to your new job situation. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to to have a few new work buddies – whether to go eat lunch or coffee with, to have someone to talk to as you go on this new job adventure, or just to help you feel more connected and comfortable at your new company:
1. Have integrity
First and most importantly, be a person of integrity even when no one is looking. Don’t talk about people behind their backs, don’t repeat rumors that can only hurt people, and consistently do the right the thing. In order for the rest of the tips to make a difference, your colleagues have to trust you.
2. Show vulnerability
There are three kinds of people in the workplace: those who maintain such a high level of professionalism that you sometimes wonder where their batteries go, those who are an emotional mess every time you see them, and those who are both professional and human. Be the third. Don’t overshare; nobody needs to know that you and your husband are fighting over another woman. But don’t undershare, either. Be honest when you’re having a a bad day or a bad week or when you aren’t the best version of yourself.
3. Make the first move
Put yourself out there by making the first move; ask a coworker you like if she wants to grab lunch with you or take a quick walk during morning break. Most workplace friendships are built during these moments: lunch and other breaks, small work groups, and even casual conversation in passing. Note: Don’t take declined invitations as a personal and clear I-DON’T-WANT-TO-BE-FRIENDS-WITH-YOU message unless the same colleague has declined your invitations forty-three times consecutively. Just know that people are busy and ask again next time.
4. Respond to invites
Just like a turned down invitation hurts your feelings and makes it hard to ask again next time, a declined invite turns away your colleagues and makes it harder for them to keep reaching out. Take your colleagues up on their offers the first time; go out for lunch, take that walk together, and reciprocate their friendliness in the’r hallway. Make it clear that you’re friendly and willing to hang out.
5. Get outside your comfort zone
The easiest thing to talk about with work friends is work, and the easiest way to talk about work is negatively, it seems. Fight against any desire you have to complain about work with your colleagues. Instead, choose a positive, funny, or uplifting topic to discuss like stories about your kids, funny things in the news, or a recent embarrassing moment. While you’re at it, take religion and politics off the list of acceptable discussion topics, too.
6. Consider culture before you accept
If it’s not already too late, review a company’s online employer reviews before you determine whether to accept a job offer from them. Employer reviews can give you hard-to-find insight into the company culture and help you determine whether you can expect to find like-minded people there.