Make friends at work

You stand to be more successful, productive and energised if you have friends at work. Devashish Chakravarty tells you how to go about it.

A2013 Gallup report found that having friends at work in creased your satisfaction and happiness levels by 50%. Hav ing a best friend at work could mean you are seven times more likely to be fully engaged and thus more energised.Though lack of friends may not make or break your career, it can reduce enjoyment and motivation, increase loneliness and accelerate burnout. Making friends gets you a professional support system, emotional nourishment, better communication skills, improved managerial perception and consequently greater success. Here’s what prevents you from making friends and how you can get around the hurdle.

You are new:

The first few days at work are the toughest. You do not know anyone and yet you need friends the most. A cool way to get started is to ask someone for an office tour or a briefing on the current project and the team. Use that time and conversation to get to know the other person better.Another good way to spark new friendships is to take the initiative and reach out to other newbies. Be sincerely interested in what they do, where they come from and what is important to them. Join them for a coffee before work. Don’t forget to smile.

You had a bad start:

You made a poor first impression at your new office. Perhaps you were late on the first day, was wrongly dressed, made a disastrous first presentation or was preceded by a negative rumour. It’s ok that you started off on the wrong foot.Give time for people to forget and engage with you as you get involved in team projects. Be careful about crossing communication lines or personal boundaries too quickly. Slowly move on to sharing personal details and much later to emotional and bonding conversations.

You are negative:

You have spent enough time at office but are still without friends? Is it because your communication has a negative taint? Do you reject ideas during professional discussions? Are you known to complain often? To get along with colleagues, start by being positive in your outlook. Deal with personal issues on your own and avoid complaining about work or colleagues. Be warm and approachable by supporting people’s ideas instead of rejecting them. It takes five positive affirmations to balance out the negativity from one critical statement.

You do not belong:

The office is full of cliques–same school, same locality, same background–while you are a complete outsider. This is common since people of similar tastes will be found together. Keep an open mind, understand office culture and speak the common lingo. Focus on knowing your colleagues better and making friends for the right reasons instead of force fitting a clique.As you share more of yourself, you will find others with similar interests outside work giving you common ground to build upon.

You are an introvert:

Though you are comfortable as an introvert, you realise it does not hurt to have a professional support system and a friend or two at work. Take initiative and get started by joining others at the canteen at meal times. Opt to work on cross departmental projects or team assignments once in a while. This will help you in knowing new people and keep your basic communication skills polished. Look out for neutral conversations where you can participate in small talk without too much effort.

You don’t have off-time:

You are all business and work, all the time. And after work, you have personal commitments to attend to. This leaves you with no time to invest in colleagues and to make friends.Change that to get beyond transactional relationships. Start by attending office parties and social gatherings. Join birthday celebrations and make your own cards too. Do not miss social opportunities created by your office or colleagues. Designate off work hours during the week to catch up with people outside office and without any agenda.

You don’t help:

Do people share their professional and personal challenges with you? If not, then you probably don’t have friends in office. Perhaps your colleagues believe that you do not help them out when they ask for it or worse, you sabotage their efforts and cause them to fail. To rectify your image and build meaningful friendships at work, go out of your way whenever you receive a request for help. Take it one step further and offer to assist a colleague who is struggling against a tight deadline or lacks critical inputs that you can easily provide.Once people perceive you to be supportive and reliable without any strings attached, you will never lack for friends.

You are difficult:

People find it challenging to be around you for various reasons and hence you are lonely. The first thing that puts off people is lack of social hygiene. Do you carry strong smelling food or spray an overdose of perfume? Are you loud on your tele calls or abusive in your language? These are disturbing to most people. Similarly, a colleague avoids you if there is conflict festering between the two of you. Be the first to admit if you are wrong and apologise early.Else sit down with the other person, assume he means well and talk out the issue instead of letting the matter simmer. Improving social hygiene and closing conflicts gets people back into your social sphere.

 

Source: Economic Times

Date: 23rd May 2016

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