Whether you’re a new starter or practically part of the furniture, learning how to make friends at work can be a daunting experience with some. You have to work with these people day-in, day-out for months or years but if you can’t seem to find the courage to start a conversation it can make your work situation annoying at best and miserable at worst. Don’t worry if this is you, we’ve got a couple of top tips to help you find the confidence and join the conversation.
The new kid in class
If you have started a job fairly recently and you’ve found that people haven’t really interacted with you, it could just be the case that you never introduced yourself properly. It may seem nerve wracking to make the first move, but if you catch an unfamiliar colleague making a cup of tea in the kitchen, standing round by the water cooler or waiting for the lift, introduce yourselves and say ‘I don’t think we’ve met properly, I’m…’ to break the ice. This is the biggest step and when you get it out of the way you’ll already feel better.
‘You is kind, you is smart, you is important’
This iconic line spoken by Aibleen Clark in the film The Help is packed full of wisdom that you should always remember. It’s easy to pick yourself apart, focus on your faults and forget the reasons you’re brilliant, but by making notes of the things you excel at and adding to this you can refer to them in the future. Have a motivational box, jar or even just a piece of A4 that you can look at if you ever feel that you’ve got nothing to contribute to a conversation or feel ‘lesser’ than others in your office.
From shy butterfly to chatter bug
More of the quiet reserved type compared to some of the super confident people in your team? Try to remember the ‘fake it till you make it’ motto. Not everyone is born wanting to be the centre of attention and one of the best ways how to make friends at work is by faking your confidence. This is a secret tactic that most people use and if you feign confidence to start with, you’ll find making conversation with strangers getting easier over time until you no longer have to act.
Don’t know how to fake confidence? Examine your posture; don’t slump or cross your arms which will make you appear reserved or defensive, don’t use words like ‘just’ to dampen what you want from colleagues, instead say ‘I wanted to check up on the results of that campaign’ and don’t deflect compliments – this is an especially common habit that women pick up as we feel we should be ‘modest’ but this is nonsense and instead you should accept them graciously. You can also try watching videos of confident people you find inspiring and watch how they carry themselves and speak for more inspiration.
Creature of habit
Have you got the same workday routine of working until 12.30, taking lunch at your desk and working while you eat? If so it’s time to switch things up. If people see you as being busy all day they may think they’re being polite by not disturbing you or you could seem closed off to interaction. Try something a little different for once.
If people tend to eat lunch in a communal area join them as an easy way to seem more open to conversation, bring something for lunch that requires more prep than a sandwich so you can make small talk in the kitchen, or if you’re feeling really brave and hear that a group is planning on heading out to pick up lunch later in the week, politely ask if they’d mind you joining them. Chances are they’ll welcome you in and you’ll find that conversation flows more easily in down time when people aren’t tethered to their desks.
Does your company organise quarterly meals out for the team, summer picnics for friends and family or just after works social drinks on Friday’s? Take advantage of any offers as these are great opportunities to see colleagues out of work mode and in a happy and relaxed mood.
If the drinks are flowing this is even better as even if you don’t drink, others will loosen up a little and show their fun side making it easier for you to chat to them or join in on jokes. If nothing like this is in place, you could always be the one to suggest it, most likely people will jump on board at the chance of something fun to look forward to and you’ll get praise for putting it into place.
Feel like your office is past all hope and want to work somewhere that encourages interaction? We’re friendly faces that are all about finding the right fit for you, so don’t be shy and come talk to us!