This is Karl of Work Happy Now guest posting for Alex while he is snowboarding in Whistler. It’s going to be a fun couple of weeks so stay tuned for some really cool ideas.
My friend Stacy works for a technology company and she struggles to make friends. She’s in the customer service department, and is on the phone most of the day. When it’s time to go to lunch, no one from her department can go with her because they take lunches in shifts.
She feels awkward about going up to people and introducing herself. She’s not sure what to do because she likes the work, but not the job.
I’ve been in her position. I worked for a small leather manufacturing company that sold toy horse saddles, wallets and brief cases. I was stuck making sales calls all day long, and I disliked the job as a result of my lack of social interactions.
I highly value finding and making friends at work. It can make the difference between loving and hating a job.
Penelope Trunk of Brazen Careerist also believes a friendship can change your work experience.
“Here’s some advice for those of you who don’t like your job: Maybe your job is not your problem. Maybe it’s that you are not trying hard enough to make friends at work. People with one friend at work are much more likely to find their work interesting. And people with three friends at work are virtually guaranteed to be very satisfied with their life.”
- Penelope Trunk - You will like your job more if you make a friend at work
This post will not be about directing you to break out of your shell and be outgoing. This post is about helping various kinds of personalities figure out the best way to make friends at work.
Everyone is different and has individual needs.
If you are afraid of rejection then you probably have some instances in your past that hold you back from making new friendships. I’m not going to go all “Freud” on you and make you dive into your past. You don’t need to overcome these feelings to make new friends. You need to acknowledge that this plays a big role in your social interactions.
Let’s say Stacy is afraid of just going up to people and saying something as simple as, “Hi, I’m Stacy.”
Stacy has to play to her strengths. Instead of reaching out, she needs to figure out how to get people to reach out to her. I would suggest that she makes cookies for every department with whom she is in contact. Send them all an email explaining that she appreciates their help and these cookies are the best way she knows how to show them that she cares.
If someone made cookies for my department, I sure as heck would walk up to them and say thank you.
Instead of being the hunter, a person who is shy needs to figure out alternative methods that bring people to his/her world.
Some of my favorite people have been my grumpy co-workers. They are a pain because a lot of them like to complain, but my take on it is that they just feel every situation very deeply.
The only way they know how to deal with it is to be grumpy.
If you are a grumpy person 2 out of 5 days a week then you have to put yourself in the grump category. This isn’t a bad label, just one you have to work with.
You can do this by being a good empathizer. People love to complain. If people know that they can come to you for support and a “friendly ear,” it can make a job easier to handle.
We all need stress relief. Giving people stress relief will endear you to many of your co-workers. Be forewarned that you may be putting yourself in the empathizer role, which means people will keep coming to you to vent.
Everyone thinks that the outgoing person has the easiest time making friends. This isn’t necessarily true. They may talk to a lot of people, but still may not have any close friends upon whom they can rely.
Outgoing people usually aren’t very good listeners. I’m not here to tell you to develop your listening skills. I’m here to tell you to go with your strengths.
If you are outgoing, then get people laughing.
We all love a good joke to release some tension and create a fun experience. You may want to memorize a joke each morning for the next couple of weeks. What usually happens is people will want to laugh with you. They will want to tell jokes too. This is where you need to step back and let other people shine.
You get the laughing rolling then let other people join in.
Black Sheep (aka weird one)
I always considered myself the black sheep. I think many of us consider ourselves to be the black sheep in the family when we first start working a job.
Black sheep like to think of themselves as weird and special. We are all weird and special in our own way. I love to do push-ups in the park when I take a break. I have a co-worker who talks about her kid every single day and all day long.
We all have quirks. It’s up to you to find people’s quirks and accept them. If someone loves “The Simpsons” then talk to them about it. Make them share their lives with you. When they start sharing who they are they will consider you a friend – a friend who loves them for them, without any judgments.
If you are a laid back person who just goes with the flow, good for you. I wish I had that ability. I’m actually working on letting this become a larger part of my personality.
The problem is that people who are laid back and relaxed usually don’t ignite friendships. They are so liaise-fair that no one becomes attached to them.
When you are a “relaxer” at work, you need to show other people that you care. When someone talks about one task that they struggle with during the day, try to bring it up the next day to show them that you were listening.
Showing people that you care about them will allow them to care about you.
- Bring them to you
- Make them laugh
- Share experiences
- Relax and Enjoy
Invite a co-worker to lunch.
If all else fails, just invite a co-worker to lunch and get to know someone better. As long as they don’t get the lobster bisque with salmon and rice, then offer to pay for their meal.
Do you feel that having friends at work is important factor for your work happiness? What do you do to make more friends at work? Do you have a best friend at work? Have you ever quit a job because you didn’t have any friends? Let’s discuss in the comment section.
Karl Staib writes about unlocking and kicking open the door to working happy at his own blog: Work Happy Now! If you enjoyed this article, you may like to subscribe to his feed, follow him on Twitter or read one of his most popular articles, How Does Google Create a Great Atmosphere?
Image courtesy of nelgallan
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