How to Make Friends at Work

Forging personal bonds with your professional colleagues can make work more rewarding and build lasting connections that may lead to future job opportunities.

Professional men networking after work

You don’t have to be friends with your colleagues to work with them, but it helps. Cultivating friendships inside your workplace helps your mental health as well as your career. Someone who understands you, who has your back and who helps with your concerns at work can make your environment feel more caring, connected and worth the effort of work. In addition, professional friendships may lead to future job opportunities once your connections move to other companies. But we can often forget that under the stress of projects and deadlines. Here are reminders for how to build the bonds of friendship at work.  
 
Offer to help 
When you’re surrounded by to-do lists, there’s a natural tendency to hunker down and focus on what you have to get done. Over time, this can make you focus too much on yourself and create an isolationist culture. Remember to break out of this mindset regularly by offering to help others, even when you are busy. 
 
Assume positive intent 
Research shows that if we expect someone to like us, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. At the same time, research also shows that most people interpret the tone of email communication as more negative than the sender intended. If you put these studies together, it means you should put the best possible interpretation for all the emails you get from colleagues, which will help building friends rather than enemies. People are stressed and busy at work, which can stymie relationships. To combat these negative pressures, assume your colleagues have positive intentions, which can help in actually cultivating positive intentions. 
 
Write informal thank you notes 
A thank you note on paper stationery can feel too formal for someone you work closely with. But something more than a quick “thanks!” in an email can remind your colleagues that they’re not taken for granted. A quick informal thank you note written on a post-it note can serve this purpose. Take the effort to let someone know they are appreciated. 
 
Join social groups at work 
If the only time you interact with colleagues is on projects and in meetings, it’s going to be hard to build friendships. Instead, carve out niches for friendship at work by joining social groups, going out to lunches or taking walks with others during the workday. 
 
Spend time outside the office 
To truly get to know someone, spend time with them outside of the confines of work. Go to happy hours or take a weekend exercise class together. You may be surprised at the other sides of people you see outside of work, and it may bring you closer together.
 
More Career Management Advice: 
How to Become More Likeable in the Workplace
How to Get Ahead at Work
Living Your Personal Brand
 

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