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Trouble Fitting In? 8 Ways to Make Friends at Work

Business News Daily Editor
Business News Daily Editor

Whether you're new in the office or just feeling left out, here are eight ways to make friends at work.

  • Making friends at work can not only improve your personal life, it can encourage better job performance and participation in company culture.
  • There are several helpful strategies you can follow if you have difficulty building connections with your co-workers.
  • In some instances, it may be necessary to make the extra effort and plan outings and events to get to know your peers in a more relaxed setting.

Do you have friends at work? If not, you may want to start reaching out to your peers.

Studies show that having friends at work can make employees more productive, motivated and loyal to the company they work for, according to New York magazine. However, fitting in at the office isn't always easy.

Business News Daily asked business owners and career experts for their advice on fitting in at work. From saying hi in the morning to offering to help with projects, there are plenty of small things you can do every day to help you make friends at work.

Whether you're new on the job or you're just feeling left out, here are eight tips for forging friendships in the office.

1. Observe the culture first.

"After you start your job, check out the spoken and unspoken rules for the ways that people operate in your new workplace. Listen carefully to what's happening in your orientation and training period. And then watch and listen to how people interact (by email? Chat? Phone? In person? Video conference?), and begin to emulate other people." – Laurie Battaglia, workplace strategist at Living the Dream Coaches

2. Say good morning.

"Take the time to say good morning each day. It always surprises me how many people complain when their co-workers don't acknowledge them in the morning. For some employees, this can truly be hurtful and create a barrier between co-workers." – Angela Copeland, career coach at Copeland Coaching

3. Be helpful.

"The best way to fit in at work is to have your colleagues' back. Step up and give an overwhelmed co-worker a hand with his or her project. Before you run down to grab a sandwich or coffee, ask if anyone else wants something." – Lynda Spiegel, career coach and founder at Rising Star Resumes

4. Engage with your co-workers.

"Making friends at the office is simple if you take the time to truly engage with your co-workers by asking them questions and being genuinely interested in the answers. Most people love to talk about their interests, their children, their families, and, if given the opportunity, will open up about what is important to them." – Bob Faw, CEO at Matchbox Group

5. Recognize others.

"As you would in a friendship outside of work, recognize your co-workers who have gone above and beyond for you or the company. We're all hardwired to appreciate praise and reciprocate it. Additionally, as you develop a reputation for recognizing the work of others, more people will want to work with you, giving you more opportunities to foster those budding friendships." – Kelly Quinn, HR manager at Nurse Next Door

6. Watch your humor.

"Sense of humor is very personal, and it can take a while for others to understand yours. Don't be too out there with your jokes. Especially salty or questionable jokes. First impressions count, and this is not the time for racist, sexist or derogatory humor of any kind." – Lara Steel, general manager at Anglicare WA

7. Avoid negativity.

"Stay positive. Most people don't like to be around those that are negative all the time. What's more, researchers have found that if you say good things about other people, people tend to remember you as having those positive qualities, too. For example, if you tell a new co-worker that your previous boss is a friendly, helpful person, they will likely walk away remembering you as somewhat friendly and helpful, too." – Keith Rollag, associate professor of management and author of What to Do When You're New (AMACOM, 2015)

8. Ask questions.

"You must take the initiative to meet other people, even if you're new to the organization. Talk about the weather, local teams and issues. If you're new, ask questions. 'Can you recommend a place to pick up a quick lunch?' 'Is there a walking trail nearby?' 'Where is the first aid kit?' 'What's your favorite thing to do downtown [or] on the weekend?'" – Bonnie Scherry, director of corporate HR at G&A Partners

Additional tips on fitting in at work 

Introduce yourself. 

If you're an introvert, it may feel uncomfortable to introduce yourself at first. However, it can help you overcome the awkward hurdle of initiating an interaction. If you're new to the office, this is a great opportunity to meet new people. If you've been at a company for a while, it's a great way to open a door to a new friendship. Even if you've already met someone, you may want to take the time to share a hobby or interest. Maybe someone else in the office secretly loves the same thing you love. If you don’t open up the conversation, you'll never know.  

Attend company events or happy hour.

Sometimes an office isn't the best place to get to know someone on a personal level. It's understandable if you don't want to be seen as overly chatty and unproductive during the regular workday. That's why company parties or after-work happy hours can be a great opportunity to network and unwind. Some people are completely different outside the office. You may have more in common with your co-workers than you previously thought if you've only ever interacted in front of the water cooler. Scheduled personal outings can be the perfect icebreaker to relieve the tension of socializing with co-workers.  

Start a weekly game league.  

Games are a great way to bond with people, especially if it's a recurring event. This could be a sport or something less physical, like a board or card game.  

If you're athletic and work with other athletes, you may want to organize a weekly basketball or softball game. If you want something a bit more casual, bowling and kickball leagues are always fun. If physical activity is out of the question, a weekly poker night or Monopoly game can be just as entertaining.   

Regular events give you the opportunity to interact with your coworkers consistently and get to know them in a way that is organic. You'll get bonus points for being the organizer. and it can serve as an automatic icebreaker to introduce yourself to any new co-workers.  

Be yourself.

Although this is cliche, it's a cliche for a reason. Being yourself is the No. 1 way to build successful relationships. 

Try to get your co-workers involved in things you're interested in. If there is a new movie coming out that you really want to see, find out if anyone else in the office is interested. If there is a particular sports team you love, see if anyone else is a fan. Building a relationship based on a common interest will go much further than manufacturing a connection just to be liked. 

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