How to Make Work Friends (the Right Way)
If you're unhappy at your job, you could start looking for a new one, but that requires, like, so much effort. You could also try making a friend or two, which basically guarantees a boost in your job satisfaction. Seriously: A study by Gallup found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent, and people with a work bestie are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work. So let's do this.
Go to Company Events (Even If They Sound Lame)
We know. The last thing you want to do after eight hours in the office is make small talk at a work-sponsored happy hour. But if making friends is your goal, it’s smart to take advantage of every outing your company organizes—just stay 20 minutes. Even if you end up commiserating with your cubemate about how tired you both are, that’s a deeper interaction than you would’ve gotten if you’d gone straight home.
Eat in Communal Spaces
Hey, you, eating the sad desk salad. It’s time to expand your horizons. Your office probably has some kind of communal seating area, so take your lunch there or find a nice spot outside to chow down. Even chatting about weekend plans or what you’re bingeing on Netflix will bring you closer to the people you spend 40+ hours with each week. It’s a great first step in establishing bonds that go beyond emails about conference rooms.
It sounds so simple, but the little things really add up when it comes to forming friendships with the people around you. That means complimenting a coworker on her haircut, grabbing a coffee for the guy next to you when get up to get your own or bringing in leftovers from last night’s baking experiment to share in the office kitchen.
It’s tempting to get in on gossip as a way to align yourself with folks in the office (especially if you’re new), but don’t. It’s a toxic way to begin a friendship and alienates you from the people you’re gossiping about. If your cubemates are gossiping in front of you, either make up an excuse to leave the conversation or sit there silently without adding fuel to the fire. Think about it: If this person is talking behind someone else’s back, chances are he or she wouldn’t have a problem doing the same thing to you. Friendships built on negativity? Rarely fulfilling.
Jim in accounting invited people to his band's gig next week. You’re there. Kristin from marketing wants to get a group together for one of those paint parties. So in. When people from work invite you to do things—and your aim is to become friends with those people—say yes. (Of course, if you really can’t make an event, it’s OK to skip it, but remember that saying no too many times will eventually mean the invitations stop coming.)
Don’t Force It
It’s fabulous to have work friends, but if you take all of the above steps and relationships still aren’t developing, don’t force unnatural friendships. Some workplaces simply aren’t conducive to socializing, so you have to know when to be OK with keeping things strictly professional. And who knows? That new gal who just started in accounting might love Ina Garten and The Handmaid’s Tale just as much as you do.