People ask me how to go out with a co-worker and make friends at work. The same rules of friendships are applied, with a few minor changes. There are just some differences that are worth keeping in mind.
To make friends at work, you’re going to need to consider the professional setting of a work environment and how you can transform a formal relationship into a more casual one. You can do that with 9 steps if you follow them properly, which is what I’ll list down below.
9 Steps Of Turning a Co-worker Into a Friend.
1. Choose Well
Not all people are willing to have friends outside work. Not all can keep healthy boundaries and to make friends with people they work with and not see everybody as a potential rival. So you have to make sure they’re friendly and open to being friends outside of work.
2. Increase Your Mingling Time – Gradually
You can do anything step by step. The same goes for here. If you mingle more and more with someone, eventually they’ll be ready to hang out outside work. All you have to do is practice and apply your small talk skills. You can simply have small conversations with a co-worker in the beginning, until those small talks become a little bit broader.
Water cooler conversations and interactions in the pantry are really good opportunities to increase your mingling time with co-workers. Do it when you can. Minimally at first until you build a fun, speaking relationship with them.
3. Make This Conversational Transition
To make friends with a coworker, you need to make the transition from just making small talk and talking about work to talking about more personal topics. You can start by asking about their weekend activities and what they do to relax in general; ask about their last vacation. You can talk about anything you do outside of work, for fun and distractions.
To build a stronger bond with a co-worker, you need to share your interests too.
4. Do You Like What You Hear?
At this point, it’s important to ask yourself “do I like those types of activities?” Maybe what they do socially isn’t your type of stuff at all. In that case, no need to proceed. You can’t force a friendship. You can remain acquaintances at work with a healthy speaking relationship but if you don’t see yourself hanging out with them outside of work then it’s better to leave it at that.
If you can see yourself sharing those activities with them, however, then it makes sense to continue.
Tell them that you enjoy things as well. Then, suggest that maybe you’ll bump into each other at that location / doing that kind of activity someday. You’re stating the possibility of an interaction outside of work by doing this.
5. You Can Go Further
If you see more enthusiasm from them, and if they’re interested in talking to you, go further by casually saying something like: “Maybe we should go there sometime” and see how they respond to that comment.
Don’t stop there, continue the discussion as if it’s just an open suggestion. If they’re open to meeting you outside work, they’ll say something like “definitely, yeah!” If not, fine, they can just nod and smile. No harm done, you didn’t specifically ask for anything anyway. You’re just opening up a possible scenario.
6. Give It Time To Settle, Then Make Your Move
“Make your move” – I sound like I’m telling you how to date someone!
Anyway. What you do here is wait a few days (or a week), and keep talking with that person. You do this because it gives both of you time to be comfortable with the idea of meeting outside of work. Some people “re-think” it and freak out. They’ll regret having promised to meet a colleague outside work — so you need to watch out for how they interact; if they seem to get distant, that’s a bad sign. Maybe they regret agreeing to meet up outside work.
It’s the art of asking without asking.
If instead, the good vibe continues, then you can suggest something. Tell them that you’re planning to go with someone somewhere, give them the time and place, and tell them that they’re welcome to join if they’re available. Make it seem “no pressure” and “just an idea.”
That’s the art of asking without asking. Here’s an example: “… by the way, I’m meeting a friend of mine tomorrow for a quick drink at that cool place we talked about; you can join us if you have time – you let me know.”
7. Go Out, Have A Good Time
Go out, have a good time, and get to know each other! Treat them like any other friend, but with a little dose of reservation (depending on the nature of your work, and the level of rigidity of the place where you work.) You can open up more if you become better friends, later.
If you’re going out with a few other friends, make sure you introduce your co-worker to them. If your co-worker brought a friend of their own, get to know them as well. You need to let them know that this interaction is a fun place for everybody involved. That way, they’ll be able to see how you are outside of work, and you need to make sure they’ll end up liking what they’ll see.
8. Bring Up The Interaction At Work
After having gone out with a workmate, make sure you acknowledge it when you see each other again at work. This solidifies the friendship that you two are making for one another. Say something like “Hey, I had fun last night! My friends were super glad you were there too! They had fun getting to know you.”
You’re also letting them know that you enjoyed the interaction and are open to it happening again in the future.
Make sure you also allow them to voice out their thoughts on the matter. If they did enjoy their time with you as well, then they are also open to hanging out again in the future. If not, then it’s okay. Maybe something happened along the way that was out of your control. Or maybe they simply realized that you two aren’t alike at all outside of work.
The important part here is you can figure out if hanging out outside of work is something you and a workmate can do regularly, thus seeing if you two can be good friends outside the office.
9. Make The Outside Activities More Frequent
If they did enjoy their time with you, then take that as a good sign that you can indeed see them again outside of work in the future.
At this point, you need to be the one to actively ask your co-worker out. Maybe they’re just passive and aren’t comfortable with being the one to ask out a co-worker. That’s fine. You should be the one taking the initiative. They’ll start warming up to that idea someday.
Making Friends In A New Workplace
Making friends at a new job is a little different than building friendships at a place where you already know a few people and they already know who you are. A new workplace is a new environment and unless you already know someone at that office before going in, you’re going to have to start from scratch and build friendships all by yourself.
You’re going to experience a lot of new things at a new workplace and meet a lot of different personalities. There will be some who you’ll never even imagine being friends with, and that’s fine. There will also be some who you just feel like you can build a strong connection with even after just a few conversations. The work culture is going to be different. What should remain the same, however, is how you interact with people.
Even though it’s a new environment, don’t think you can socialize all the less. You will do so with a different approach, but you can still make friends in that new environment. With that said, let’s explore a couple of ways you can make friends at a new job.
1. Act As If Everybody Else Already Knows Each Other But You
Every single person at that new office will most likely already know each other. You’re the new variable that arrived in that environment. Make sure you act accordingly.
This may go without saying, but don’t act as if everyone already knows who you are. When walking around the hallways, make sure you don’t start interacting with everybody as if they already have a connection with them. When people are having conversations, be sure you don’t jump right in just to be included.
You need to do this process from the very beginning. Acting as if you’re close with people will just make you seem obnoxious. You don’t want to have that reputation as the new person at the office.
Instead, you want to keep your head low for now. Just smile and nod when you meet someone’s glance every once in a while and do what you were there to do in the first place: work. Socializing will come into play later on.
2. Introduce Yourself
This is the part where people get to know you a little bit. You’ll most probably be introduced to everybody by an HR Representative or by your manager on your first day at work, but they’ll only know your name and prior work experience at best. If you want to make friends with people, you have to do a little bit more than that.
The opportunity to introduce yourself will present itself on so many occasions. What you need to do, especially early on, is to wait for that. Don’t just randomly go up to people to introduce yourself.
For example, let’s say you’re just sitting at your station, doing your job. Someone who sits close to you goes up to you to introduce themselves. Make sure you do them the courtesy of doing the same thing. Every time this happens, welcome the interaction. Make sure you’re giving out the vibe that you’re grateful to them for taking the time to go up to you.
People will most likely introduce themselves to you first considering you’re the new person at the office but don’t afraid to be the one to do so sometimes. You just need to be in the right situation.
For example, you’re in the pantry getting coffee or anything and someone else is in that room with you. If they don’t say a word but glances at you every once in a while, use this opportunity to be the one to speak up first.
You can say something like, “Hey, I’m ‘your name’. I’m new here” and shake their hand. You don’t need to further the interaction, for now. Just make sure that you get to introduce yourself to people personally whenever the opportunity comes up.
3. Be Friendly
This is the kind of reputation you want to have when working in a new office and you want to befriend many people eventually. You need to maintain a level of approachability that’s just enough for people to want to make friends with you, but not too much that people will take advantage of your kindness.
Being friendly is a very simple notion. You simply have to appear nice. When you meet glances with people, a simple nod and smile will go a long way. Don’t be a snob and you’ll already make a major effect on others. Make sure you learn and remember everybody’s names so you can address them with their names whenever you’re speaking to them. People will like you if you take the time to learn and remember their names.
If people ask for a favor, make sure you only agree when it’s doable and logical. You can be friendly without being a pushover. This is how you can avoid people taking advantage of you while still maintain the reputation of being friendly.
Talk to people if you can help it. Your body language and facial expressions should also be taken into consideration here. Make sure you aren’t always slouched or appear too guarded at all times. Even if you’re in an office, make sure you’re still very approachable that people aren’t too intimidated or too uncaring to go up to you.
4. Do Good At Your Job
This is a part that gets overlooked on the topic of making friends in a new office, but be sure you keep this in mind as well.
When making friends at a new office, you shouldn’t just consider your overall personality. Although that is a very major aspect when it comes to this, that’s not the only factor that comes into play here. Your overall job performance is also something people take notice of, considering you’re in an office.
People will always mind your level of professionalism and skill in an office. I mean, that’s just how people are seen in a working environment. If you want people to befriend you, you need them to respect you first. For them to respect you, you need to be seen as someone capable and reliable. The best way to do this in a working environment is to be good at your job.
Once people realize that you’re reliable, intelligent, even, they’ll see you as someone worthy of respect. Once that happens, building friendships with people will come much easier.
So remember, making friends in a working environment, especially if you’re new, isn’t just about having a good overall personality. Your level of competence will also be considered by many. Make sure you don’t disregard your job performance.
5. Always Be Presentable
Make sure you’re always dressed to kill every time you go to work while also being comfortable with what you’re wearing. You can be a sharp dresser without compromising comfortability. This is the kind of look you need to go for whenever you’re in the office.
When you look good, not only will you feel good, but people will also see you as someone respectable. People are drawn to others who are capable of taking care of themselves. It will also make you appear very professional and that you care about your job, which is something a lot of people will consider when befriending someone in an office.
Ask help from a friend if you feel like you don’t have the most fashionable wardrobe. It’s better if you do this before your first day at your new office.
Aside from paying attention to what you wear, you should also pay attention to your grooming welfare. Are your nails trimmed? Is your hair well-kept? Do you have perfumes or colognes that smell good? Consider these things as well.
Once everything is set, you’re ready to go to your new office and make sure you maintain that level of neatness every single day. It will become second-nature to you eventually.
6. Participate In Office Activities
Aside from work, there are a lot of things that happen in an office. If you’re someone who has been an employee for a long time, you’ve probably been in many team building and office outreach activities. You’ve also probably decided to sit out on some.
Well, in this situation, if you’re to make friends in that new office, you’re going to want to join as many activities as you can. Join every single one, if you can!
Joining office activities outside of the office is a very good opportunity to show everybody what you’re like outside the office. This is how you can let everyone know that you can have some fun. This will draw them to you. They will be even more intrigued by you, thus want to be friends with you outside of work. So make sure you aren’t just present, but you’re also actively participating.
Talk to everybody you can. Unlike at the office, everybody’s demeanor here will be a little bit more relaxed and outgoing. Take advantage of that.
7. Be Authentic
The worst thing that you can be in a new office is to be fake. People will see through this and your notion of building friendships in the future will pop like a simple bubble. It will be very hard to recover from this so make sure you just avoid it altogether.
Don’t be insincere when talking to someone. It’s senseless for people to be friends with you if they don’t even know who you are, so be sure you remain true to yourself. Your values, beliefs, and personality should remain intact.
While there are other things you can work on, this doesn’t mean you’re being fake. Actively making yourself a better person is a different story. But if you purposely act like someone you’re not just to adjust to a person’s expectations, that’s being inauthentic.
Just be yourself. Making friends that way is much simpler than having to put on a mask to please people. Just be sure that you’re the best version of YOURSELF and not anybody else, and people will appreciate you wherever you are.
8. Follow The 9 Steps Of Turning A Co-Worker Into A Friend Above
At this point, you’ll have introduced yourself to everybody. You know everybody’s (or most people’s) names already and they know yours. You’ve already established a friendly attitude and a lot of them probably want to be friends with you already. All you just need to do now is to do the process of turning your co-workers into good friends. Thankfully, we’ve already talked about that.
Just follow those steps accordingly at this point. In the end, you’ll be able to make friends with a lot of the people in your office if you follow everything you’ve just read here.
Here’s How To Know If You’ve Made A New Friend
If they go out with you twice, that’s a strong signal that you’re turning from co-workers to close friends. The same can be applied if you want to make friends with a client, professional associate or partner. If they meet you twice for non-business related purposes, you can now consider him/her a casual friend.
Like in any place, social skills are what makes or breaks your chances of making friends. I recommend that you give my eBook a try, and learn all the social skills you need for conversation, interaction, friendship, and social life building.
– Paul Sanders