Socializing with coworkers can be intimidating sometimes. But it’s among the things that you will have to do every day at work to be more productive. It’s expected of everyone in order to create a great work environment. It will benefit you in the long run.
Socializing at work means making meaningful conversations with your coworkers that are not always work-related. It can go from holiday trips, favorite movies, and family life to drunk stories and embarrassing experiences. It can get personal, which isn’t so bad right?
But it’s important to know that they’re different from your family and friends. There are things that you need to keep in mind to protect yourself from getting involved in workplace conflicts. Let’s get you started.
Inform yourself with the Work Rules
There are rules on socializing with your coworkers in every workplace to encourage efficiency and organization. It’s usually written down in your contract or a handbook provided by the company. It’s important to go through it as early as you can, especially if it’s your first job because it will give you an idea of the basic do’s and dont’s of socializing at work. It will also help you set professional boundaries that will protect you and your career. Here are some of the common socializing rules given at work:
- Office Romance – Having intimate relationships with your boss, anyone from the management, or your customers is forbidden. It usually causes favoritism that will affect everyone, and it will cost you your job. While many companies allow personal relationships with coworkers, some forbid it all together because it may disrupt their efficiency at work.
- Politics and Religion – These conversation topics are forbidden at work because it will cause division among the employees. Teamwork is needed for the company to flourish, so it’s best for you to avoid offending anyone and to only discuss it somewhere else.
- Bullying and Gossiping – It’s not helping anyone. It will only cause harm to your mental health. Such negativity will ruin everyone’s workflow. The workplace must be a safe environment for everyone coming from different backgrounds.
Set healthy boundaries at work
It’s important to remember that socializing with your coworkers is different from socializing with your family and friends. Knowing how to socialize with them while keeping their work title in mind will make it easier for you to set healthy boundaries. It will also help you have peace of mind while working. Here are some tips:
- Boss, HR, and Managers – Learn their interests and start from there. Keep your tone respectful and always use proper words when talking with them. It’s important to give them a good impression of you.
- Coworkers – Avoid focusing on their negative behavior as much as you can. Feel free to talk about your personal life, but don’t give too much of it. It’s better to keep conversations casual most of the time.
- Customers – Make them feel that you’re not only talking to them solely for business. Be open in talking about other things that they will bring up. But avoid topics that will ruin you and your company’s reputation.
Socializing at work can sometimes get you into tricky situations. With the work rules in mind and the boundaries you’ve set, you should also consider thinking of how it will affect your career in the long run. It’s better to take time in getting to know your coworkers and to avoid getting too close with someone so early.
While it’s important to have a good relationship with them, at the very least decent—in speaking terms, it’s better to keep it professional because there may be a time when you decide to switch to another company. They’ll be happy to become a witness to your good moral character.
Practice good manners when socializing with coworkers
Socializing with your coworkers doesn’t have to take an hour of your time. Saying a few greetings, wishing them well, and giving out positive body language is already a great way to socialize with them. It shows that you’re approachable, which makes it easier for them to cooperate with you.
If you’re in a bad mood, it’s better to inform them when they try to start a non-work-related conversation with you. Instead of cutting them off immediately, let them finish first before saying: “Can we get back to that later? I’m pretty occupied at the moment. Thank you.”
It’s not easy to remain positive at work when you’re actually feeling down inside. It’s still important to at least have a friendly face because it may affect your coworker’s productivity. Remember your cooperation is often needed too. If it gets too much for you, you may want to take a day off if you can.
Take time to compliment their good work as well. It will not only make it easier for you to continue socializing with them, but you will be bringing positivity that will help boost everyone’s productivity. Remember that everyone is working hard. With so many tasks to work on, some of the efforts are left unappreciated. Your coworkers will be there for you when you need to feel appreciated too.
Join work social events
Work social events are usually held during the holidays. A team-building is different, usually held in great venues. These events allow everyone to work on their teamwork skills and to get to know each other while having fun. Although you can choose not to join them, it’s better to join at least once. Pick the one that interests you most.
With your coworkers around, it’s hard to stay away from talking about work. It’s true for everyone because it’s something you all share in common. Having a small talk with them is a good start. Alcoholic drinks are not allowed unless it’s a team-building event. If they are, be sure to know your limit.
Another good way to socialize with them during these events is to volunteer in setting things up or wrapping it all up. But if not, then avoid leaving first or last when it comes to an end to avoid being in an awkward situation, well unless it’s for an emergency.
Keep conversations friendly
Office politics is present in every workplace, it can get in your way if you aren’t careful enough. Aside from the work rules stated in your contract or the handbook, keeping conversations friendly with your coworkers is among the unwritten rules of socializing at work.
You can discuss your life outside of work with them, but that doesn’t mean you’ll also be giving out personal details. Remember that they’re your coworkers, not your family and friends. Keeping things formal with them will make it easier for you to work on your professional growth.
Personal details include your plans, past issues, and secrets. People in the workplace are different from the ones you meet outside. They can get competitive, sometimes relentless at that. Some may use it against you. So keep your words in check.
It’s also best to avoid getting into heated arguments with your coworkers. Keep your thoughts in mind, but don’t let them out of your mouth. This way, you can avoid offending and slowing work productivity.
Refrain from being cliquey
It makes your other coworkers feel excluded as they see you getting too close with one or two people at work. Cliques can be found anywhere, really. At school, online, and in your workplace. They are always together and even have their own language. Being a part of one at work can limit your social experience there.
Remember the work rules on socializing? No bullying and gossiping. Cliques will often do exactly those—violating the work rules and destroying the harmony at the workplace. Each member ends up conforming to each other that they will end up having the same ideas, or end up agreeing with each other so no one in the clique will be offended.
Refraining from being cliquey will help you to remain authentic and creative, which are much needed in any job. If you have an issue with some things at work, take it up to the management directly. Not to your coworkers. Remember that you’re working on your career that takes years to build if you remain unhappy. . .maybe it’s time to find another workplace without affecting everyone’s productivity.
Manage your Social Media
Almost everyone is on different social media platforms today. It’s best to keep in mind that by the time you apply for a job, your name will be googled and all of your social media profiles will be checked by the company. It’s never been more important to manage your social media profiles well, especially when you’re still at the start of your career. If not, it’s never too late.
It’s not that the companies are looking for a reason not to hire you, it’s only that they want to know who you are. They want to see if you’re an achiever, or whatever it is that makes you tick. If you’re already working, make sure to get informed about your work’s social media policy. It’s forbidden to share confidential information with the public, or with anyone outside work. Any post you make that will ruin the company’s reputation will cost you your job.
If you want to have some privacy while keeping a professional portfolio, you can create a separate profile for that. Either you join Linkedin or create your very own website. You can choose to make your Facebook, Instagram, and other profiles private; the way the companies you’re applying for can only focus on what you can offer them.
Now when socializing with your coworkers, social media will eventually be brought up. They may ask yours too. It’s good to stay connected with them online because it gives you another opportunity to socialize with them. But it’s all up to you. Just make sure that you’ve already cleaned up your profile of anything that may offend them, or maybe used against you.
It’s among the important things to do as a member of the team. If you feel hesitant about it, remember that your coworkers will appreciate receiving feedback. It helps them become better at what they do. It will also benefit you because they will be happy to provide you feedback, and it will also strengthen your professional relationship with them.
But giving feedback is different from criticizing. Feedback is encouraging them to improve, giving them support, and letting them think for themselves; while criticism is bringing them down, blaming them, and forcing them to submit to what you think is the only solution to resolve a problem.
It can be hard to distinguish between the two, especially if you have been surrounded with critical people most of your life. It takes a lot of practice, but it’s really worth it in the end. No one likes to receive criticism. It’s not helping anyone. It’s offensive in nature. It only makes the receiver defensive. Nothing gets resolved. Everyone’s time is wasted.
Here are some tips for you:
- Avoid giving unsolicited advice. Hear them out first. If they ask you, you can offer one. If not, you say: “Can I offer you some advice?”
- Avoid giving feedback in public. Find the right time to speak with them in private and always be kind.
- Prepare to answer their follow-up questions. They will want to know more about what your observations so they be able to paint the full picture in their mind making it easier for them understand you and work on it.
- Focus on their behavior. If they end up disrupting an important task, be specific and direct about it. Saying “When you do x, it makes me feel y. I’ll appreciate it if you z.” instead of “You’re so x, that’s why I can’t y.” is better because you’re also giving them a chance to think about it while at the same time offering an alternative.
Socializing with your coworkers is not so hard after all. Sure there are still boundaries you must keep, although slightly different from your other relationships. It’s to help you create a healthy bond with them because they will be the ones you’ll get to spend time with almost every day.
Making an effort on applying these socializing tips at work will earn you not only respect but also professional growth, which is crucial for your career. It’s okay to make mistakes, you can always come back to this article. There are also other articles to help you improve your conversation techniques, feel free to read them as they are made to be of help to you! Good luck with your social endeavors.