Posted on: 15 January 2021
In many cases, we spend more time at work than with our friends and family. So it makes life a lot easier if you get along with the people you work with. And as well as making work more enjoyable, having friends at work is good for your career, your mental health and your job performance.
But this can feel difficult if you’re shy - and especially so in the age of COVID-19, when so many of us are working remotely. Even if you’re attending your workplace, wearing PPE and social distancing can make it harder to foster a personal connection.
So here are some simple ways to build friendships at work.
Do someone a favour
If you think you can be of service, offer a helping hand to your colleagues before they ask. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and are more likely to return the favour should you need a hand one day.
Ask about their life
This can be as simple as asking something like if they have plans for the weekend. If they’re happy to chat, this can lead into a conversation about their family, friends, hobbies, or interests and gives you an idea of their personality beyond work.
Following up afterwards shows that you paid attention to the conversation and you’re interested in their opinion.
Be aware of your body language
Crossing your arms, texting on your phone, or putting on your headphones will make you seem closed-off and unapproachable. The more welcoming you appear physically, the more likely people are to approach you or initiate conversations.
Having an interest in common is a good basis for a casual friendship, so try chatting with your co-workers about what they’re into. Maybe you both like reality TV, support the same football team, or have kids of a similar age.
It’s no fun being around someone who complains constantly about their work or other co-workers. We all grumble occasionally, but looking on the sunny side of life makes it more likely that people want to be your friend.
You probably do this anyway, but saying “hello” and “have a good night” to your colleagues every day is a simple way to be friendly. Smile or say hello as you see people throughout the day and, if you haven’t officially met them yet, introduce yourself.
The specifics will depend on your workplace, but something like an offer to do the tea round is usually well received.
Last but not least, be yourself. There’s no use in trying to make friends if they don’t know the real you. While you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) share everything, don’t feel like you need to put on a ‘work persona’. The best friendships start from a place of honesty.