Once you enter the working world, you’ll be spending at least 40 hours a week in the office. Getting along with your coworkers is an essential part of a good working environment, but being friends with them will have far greater effects on your happiness and success.
There are plenty of benefits to being friends with your coworkers. Besides the obvious reason of having some friendly faces in the office, being on good terms with your coworkers will give you something to look forward to each morning when you get ready for work. Research shows office friendships boost happiness and make you more passionate about your job, more productive, and less likely to quit.
Having friends in the office also gives you a support group during stressful times. Your friends at work know what you’re going through and can give you some of the best encouragement to reach your goals or get through a tough time. This kind of social support makes you more focused, energized, and engaged at work. Plus, having social connections at work can actually reduce depression and add years to your life.
Try these tips to start making friends today:
- Ask For Favors: As crazy as it sounds, people will like you more if you ask them to do a favor for you. This is the called the Benjamin Franklin Effect — yes, it’s named for that Benjamin Franklin — and it’s a surprisingly effective way to forge friendships. When we ask someone for a favor, they feel obligated to perform the favor to eliminate any current tension. Don’t go overboard with the favors you ask, but instead ask for little things like movie or TV recommendations or help with a project. And be sure you repay the favor!
- Use Body Language: The way you present yourself has a huge impact on the way people perceive you. If you exude a positive aura — good posture showing confidence and a smile showing friendliness — people will be more drawn to you. If you’re closed off — arms crossed over your chest creating a barrier or hunched shoulders showing insecurity — you’ll turn away more people. Find out if you’re unintentionally turning people away and work to improve your body’s presentation.
- Say Hi: Next time you’re in need of a short break, stop by your coworker’s desk or take a walk around the office to say hi. If you’re going to fill up your coffee, ask your work-neighbor if they need a refill. Most office interactions only involve work and sometimes just saying hi and seeing how your coworker’s morning is going can brighten their day.
- Spark Meaningful Conversations: We all have dealt with the typical “How was your weekend?”-type of questions that are simply ways of creating polite conversation that you honestly don’t care about. However, if you find yourself stuck in this, dig a little deeper. For example, if your coworker mentions seeing a movie, that’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about the types of movies he or she enjoys. The next time you see that coworker, you can talk about a new movie you saw or see if your coworker has any movie recommendations.
- Attend Office Events: Most companies occasionally sponsor events outside of work — happy hours, dinner parties, bowling nights and the like. These are great opportunities to hang out with your coworkers in a non-work environment. Without the pressure of getting the latest assignment done, you can just chat and get to know each other better. In fact, that’s usually the reason why offices host such events. Take advantage of these chances to learn more about the people you spend 40 hours a week with, and have fun while you’re at it!
- Make Plans Outside of Work: Invite your friends out for dinner or happy hour after work, or make plans with them over the weekend. Don’t be afraid to ask them to join your friends next time you’re going out, either. Take the time to really get to know your coworkers when you’re not in an office setting and you’ll have a much better chance of becoming friends!
The benefits to having friends at work are exponential, and the more you invest in the relationships the more you get out of them. You’ll have a good support system, you’ll be happier, and you’ll have people to sit with at lunch — always important. It can be awkward to try to insert yourself into pre-established groups, but sometimes you just have to take the plunge and go for it – you’ll be happy you did!