You probably spend a good portion of your waking hours at work. Therefore, it can be difficult to make new friends, especially if you’re new to the city and don’t have a lot of local connections.
As you settle into a new job, there’s no guarantee that you’ll hit it off with your coworkers. They have their own lives and their own set of friends, and some people have a strict policy about mixing business with pleasure. The idea of having to go out and meet people on your own might be overwhelming, so you might prefer creating relationships with the people you work with and making your day at work a little brighter, while also being productive. Unfortunately, your coworkers may not welcome you with open arms — but this doesn’t mean a friendship can’t develop.
If you need to make friends, yet your coworkers are the only people you interact with on a regular basis, here are a few tips for making new friends at work.
1. Bake Goodies for Your Coworkers
If you’re a master baker and you want to win brownie points with your coworkers, consider bringing in actual brownies to the office. You don’t have to spoil your coworkers every day, but the occasional treat can help you get noticed -especially if you’re the new kid on the block. They’ll likely appreciate your effort and want to spend more time with you. If your office doesn’t usually celebrate an employee’s birthday or work anniversary, talk to your boss about starting a new tradition. If you don’t want to go this far, stop by a local donut shop on your way into the office and bring donuts for everyone to enjoy -and maybe a box of Joe. A little bribery doesn’t hurt and you’ll quickly become everyone’s favorite person in the office, making it easier to get to know your coworkers on a personal level.
2. Don't Wait for an Invitation
If you wait for your coworkers to extend invitations to you, you might be waiting forever. Some people have their own cliques and settle into their own relationships, and they don’t always think to invite newcomers into their inner circle. But that doesn’t mean they won’t welcome an opportunity to hangout with you. Take the initiative and invite yourself to lunch with your coworkers. There’s no reason to sit in the office alone while everyone else goes out to a restaurant. And if you’re the type of person who likes to go out for happy hour and half-off appetizers after work, extend the invitation to some of your coworkers to see if they want to join you. The more you hangout on a social level, the easier it’ll be to establish a relationship and develop a friendship.
3. Act Like You Want to Be Bothered
Making new friends at work is especially challenging if you’re timid, shy or an introvert. However, if people don’t feel comfortable around you, or feel they can’t approach you, they’re not going to extend invitations or make an effort to get to know you better. You don’t have to be the most outgoing person in the office, but you should offer a smile and speak as you enter a room. The same way you prefer to be around pleasant people, your coworkers might feel the same way. If it seems like you don’t want to be bothered (ex. you never make eye contact or you’re glued to your phone), others will think you’re not interested in a friendship.
4. Join Their Social Groups
Your coworkers may participate in social activities after hours together. For example, they might be on the same baseball or bowling league, or they might be members of a particular organization. As you’re sitting around the water cooler shooting the breeze or enjoying lunch, get a feel for what your coworkers do after work. If they take part in extracurricular activities together, and you’re interested in getting involved, ask if there’s room for one more. Your coworkers might be more than happy to provide additional information and welcome you aboard.
5. Find a Common Ground
If you want to make new friends at work, you’ll need to find a common ground with your coworkers. Focus on one coworker at a time and spend a little time chatting with this person and getting to know him or her better. You might discover that one of your coworkers loves pizza, whereas another coworker is a fitness fanatic. If you’re also interested in these activities, you could call up a coworker and invite him to check out a new pizza spot in the city, or if you have a regular fitness routine like working out every morning before work, you could invite another coworker to become your workout buddy.
Having a new friend at work doesn’t mean you have to be interested in all the same things or spend all your free time together. If you take an interest in three or four different coworkers, there’ll be more opportunities to hangout with people who share your interests.
6. Leave Your Attitude at the Door
The truth of the matter is, you’re not going to make new friends if people don’t like you. It’s very difficult to identify our own faults. If you’re having difficulty making new friends, you need to do a self-evaluation. Certain attitudes or habits you have might turn people off. As a result, your coworkers might keep their distance. If you get off on the wrong foot with the people at work, developing a friendship might be close to impossible.
Seriously consider how your behavior and traits might irritate people. For example: do you cut people off as they’re speaking? Do you display a “my way or the highway attitude?” Do you talk down to people? Do you brag about your money or lifestyle? It helps to speak with someone you trust and get their opinion about your personality, such as a sibling, another relative, or someone else who’s close with you.
7. Be a Team Player and a Hard Worker
At the end of the day, you’re at the office to make money, not establish new friendships. So works should always be a priority. If you’re productive and contribute to the success of the company by proving that you’re a team player, you’ll become more likable as a person. And if you’re a more likable person, others will naturally want to spend time with you.
8. Don't Overdo It
Understandably, you might be desperate for new friends. But don’t overdo it, or you could turn off your coworkers -and possibly scare them. If you’re always in their face extending invitations or vying for their attention, you’ll come off as needy or clingy, and most people don’t want to deal with these types of people. Be friendly and take the initiative. But if a coworker doesn’t respond, don’t force the relationship.
See Also: Pitfalls of Hiring a Friend
Having friends in your corner at the office can make the workday more enjoyable. You might not be able to develop close relationships with your coworkers overnight. But if you continue to put forth the effort, and treat them the way you want to be treated, it’ll be easier to establish new relationships. Just remember that you can’t make someone be your friend, so go easy and don’t try too hard. Let the friendship evolve naturally.