Once you get a new job, the real work begins–both in learning about your role and in getting to know the people you’ll be working with every day. Some environments are better for making friends than others, but eventually you’ll develop relationships with people. While it’s great to establish friendships in the workplace, it’s also important to remember that these are work friends, and different rules apply.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to help you build friendships with co-workers.
- Do say hello. A confident person who makes eye contact and engages others is a winning companion in any circle. Smile and have a welcoming attitude towards others.
- Do ask your co-workers how they’re doing. And be a good listener when they answer. By being observant, you can determine things you have in common with people in your workplace. These details can help spark conversations later. It also shows that you’re a person who listens and cares.
- Do always go to work events. Even when you think it doesn’t matter, it does. Join in and contribute to birthday cards and planning social events so you have a chance to interact with colleagues in another environment.
- Do ask for and give help. It’s okay to be vulnerable and ask for help, but it’s also important that you return the favor. Even when you don’t know an answer, if you help the person find the response they need, they’ll value you as a co-worker.
- Do stay positive. The universal law of opposites attracting doesn’t apply here. Be genuine and look for the good things occurring around you. Soon other positive people will seek you out, as well.
- Don't gossip or complain. We all have bad days, but everyone at work doesn’t need to know about it. Avoid talking about others or complaining—you never know how this may impact your job later.
- Don't get too personal. While it’s great to make connections and find things you have in common with co-workers, this isn’t the time to share your deepest darkest secrets. Keep things light when talking to work friends, and avoid oversharing about personal struggles.
- Don't bring smelly food into the office. Sound silly? Not really, when you consider that your colleagues are your professional roommates. You spend 40 hours a week with them, so be considerate of your environment and avoid smelling up the place.
- Don't exclude people. Nobody likes feeling left out. Even if you experienced exclusion when you first started, you still don’t want to make someone else feel that way. Lead by example and be open and welcoming to any new employees. Hopefully your colleagues will follow.
- Don't add everyone to your social media. Your social media is for just that–your social friends. Keep your social media locked and use caution when posting. If you feel uncomfortable, you can absolutely choose not to accept invites from work friends, or to create a separate personal account.
By following these simple rules of interaction, you can make great work friends and keep them. It’s important to keep an open mind as you meet and learn about people in the workplace, just like you do in your personal life. Be genuine yet professional, and you’ll establish lasting relationships in no time at all.