- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
If you’re fortunate enough to have coworkers that you don’t despise, consider yourself really lucky. Wanting to turn the work-related relationship into an actual friendship is completely normal, especially since you see these people almost every day.
Often, forming friendships with your coworkers can significantly contribute to your success at your job. If you’re surrounded by people you don’t necessarily like or get along with, it makes it more challenging to enjoy coming to work and finding the motivation to perform well.
When you learn to enjoy your coworkers’ company, it can lead to more production and happy days at the office. With that being said, some unspoken rules come along with forming friendships with those you work with.
As cliche as it sounds, being yourself is crucial when it comes to forming authentic friendships with others. When you see the same people every day, it’s hard to put up a facade; in fact, it would be exhausting. You may feel inclined to act or behave a certain way around your coworkers to fit in with the office’s culture. But if you want your friendships to extend past 9 am to 5 pm, you have to be your real, honest self.
When you stay true to who you are, your coworkers can get to know and appreciate the real you. The last thing you’d want is your coworkers to be confused by how you act when you’re away from the office. This will lead to more meaningful and long-lasting friendships.
As a result of fully being yourself, not everyone you work with will get along with you. This is completely okay, but it is crucial that you are surrounding yourself with people who are hanging out with you for the real you.
BE SELECTIVE ABOUT HOW YOU SOCIALIZE
Work events that take place out-of-office can be a fun way to hang out with your colleagues in a more relaxed setting. However, there is a fine line between friendship and professionalism that is detrimental to cross. It is one thing to be a friend outside the office, but having a complete lack of competence around your coworkers is a situation that should be avoided at all costs.
Commonly, work events away from the office involve some kind of alcohol. Having a drink or two with the people you work with is typical and expected. However, the addition of alcohol opens up the possibility of things to get really messy, really fast. Try to avoid doing things that will make you the center of discussion, in the worst way, on Monday morning.
A simple way to stop yourself from making this mistake is to be selective about where and how you socialize. Avoid being the person who shows up every single work event, and stays until the very end. Before you head to the event, give yourself a specific time to call it a night. Most importantly, have a glass of water in between drinks.
WHEN IN DOUBT, STAY QUIET
Once you become comfortable with a coworker, casually talking to them becomes incredibly easy to do. Given that you’re seeing them most days of the week, there is a lot of opportunity for discussion. With this in mind, you must consciously choose what you’re willing to share with your colleagues and what you would rather keep quiet about.
Sharing personal stories, thoughts, and opinions is excellent and undoubtedly important when making friends. However, the line quickly becomes blurred when you choose to share something that you would never want the entire office to know.
Putting complete trust in a coworker to keep your secrets safe is certainly a leap of faith, and not everyone is comfortable with doing such a thing. Confiding in someone is a wonderful thing when it is the right person, place, and time. In the wrong place, and at the wrong time, it could potentially harm your work life.
Words spread like wildfires around professional offices. Your coworker may not have meant to share your private details with the whole office, but a bit of gossip is inevitable.
HOW TO MAINTAIN THE FRIENDSHIP
Once you feel that you have secured some authentic friendships with coworkers that you can trust, you have to actively work to maintain the friendship. Settling for the initial blossom of the friendship and calling it goodwill only put you back in square one within a few months.
Instead, respectively treat your coworkers as you would any other friend outside the office. It is well worth it to nurture the friendship and continue to let it grow. This could mean scheduling happy hours once a week, grabbing dinner, or even enjoying a cup of coffee together on lunch breaks. Whatever feels suitable to you is probably enough to keep the friendship blossoming.
WHY THE WORK IS WORTH IT
It does seem like quite a bit of effort, and to be fair, it is. But forming a memorable and longlasting friendship takes work and time. Expressing genuine interest and care in your coworker’s life will make your workdays less dreary and boring, and will give you something to look forward to when coming to work.
Once you’ve mastered the art of being friends with your coworkers, it becomes easier and much more natural to do. You’ll be able to carry the skill from workplace to workplace and create friendships wherever you go.
Soon, your ‘work friends’ will become just friends. Enjoying time with them out of the office will eventually dissolve the idea that they have to stay within the realm of work-related events. Even long after one of you leaves the job, you will have made some genuine friendships and created some wonderful memories to carry with you wherever you go.
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell