By Noël Rozny
Web Editor & Content Manager
If you’re starting a new job, you may be preoccupied with learning your new responsibilities, meeting your new boss, and making a great first impression. You’re probably also wondering what your coworkers will be like, and how easy it will be to make friends at the office. After all, we spend at least 40 hours at our jobs each week, so you want to be able to enjoy the company of your co-workers while you’re there.
Office friendships can be rough waters to navigate, though. Studies prove that friendships can make our lives better, but in the office, friendships can turn south when business politics, promotions, and raises are on the line. Here are some tips to guide you as you start a new job and begin new friendships with our coworkers.
Tips for Making Friends at a New Job
Take Your Time
When you’re in a brand new environment, it’s easy to find one person you feel comfortable with, start going to lunch with them every day, and make them your new best friend. But in an office setting, it’s better to hang back a bit and get a sense of your surroundings before you strike up new friendships. You need to see how your coworkers fit into your daily activities, and how they fit into the office culture as a whole. You don’t, for example, want to become coffee buddies with that friendly woman down the hall, only to find out later that’s she’s the office gossip who’s about to tell your boss how many glasses of wine you drank at dinner last night. By jumping into an office friendship too soon, you could inadvertently make your job more difficult later on.
The only way to make friends is to find common ground and interests and share them. So it’s inevitable you’ll end up talking to your coworkers about your life outside of work: your hobbies, your family, your friends, etc. Just make sure you know what your personal boundaries are as you start new office friendships. Have a firm understanding of what information you are and aren’t willing to share with your coworkers and stick to it. Some people don’t mind if everyone knows the intimate details of their life, but you may not be comfortable with people knowing about your health, family issues, or marital problems. By deciding how much information you feel comfortable sharing ahead of time, it will be that much easier to maintain those boundaries later on.
Keep Work Information Confidential
As you build relationships at your new job, you should consider keeping the details of your work information confidential. Sharing how much your make, your bonus structure, or what your benefits package is might seem harmless, but if a friend makes less than you or wasn’t offered the same benefits, this could lead to issues for both of you down the road. Keep this information private, even for coworkers who work in different departments or branches. (After all, you never know when a transfer could occur.)
Limit Yourself at Happy Hour
What’s Friday without an office Happy Hour? These social events are great ways for coworkers to celebrate milestones, catch up outside of the office, and strengthen team morale. A few too many cocktails, however, can turn a great networking opportunity into a nightmare. You should always curb your alcohol consumption at work events, but especially when you’re the new person in the office. Knowing your limits and cutting yourself off after one or two drinks can keep you from sabotaging your reputation and any new friendships you’ve started making with your coworkers.