1146295_women_color_2Regular commenter here, Karl of Work Happy Now , posted this article about making friends at work over at Chief Happiness Office. I read both of these blogs and they have a lot of great content to ensure you bring and promote a happy workplace into your life. Karl had some great tips covering ideas to make friends at work despite differing personality types.  Many of the ideas are simple to do and I agree with all the advice he’s outlined.

I think there is much value in making friends at work but also in taking that beyond the workplace and building friendships that last regardless of where you work or if you change jobs.  I know many of my friendships have been made in the workplace and the best of those have lasted years, long after working together.

What Makes a Friendship?

To me, a friendship is a relationship between two people who are both willing to share their time and experiences with each other simply for the sake of doing so. The key word there is “willing”.  Sometimes people do share time with others because of some default role or workplace environment but it doesn’t mean it is a real friendship.  Often it is simply being friendly or even polite in order to work together.  Friendship goes beyond that.

Friendship must involve some level of willingness to share time on it’s own.  No other purpose.  A personal choice with a purpose no other than that of spending time together.  If you have that, you have real friendship.

In the workplace those friendships can be a choice in who you choose to work with, or work the most with.  You make preferences about the people you spent time with at work and you learn quickly to develop a helping attitude where you do choose to help others, be helped or in some other way, spend time together outside of what is simply required to do your job.  Perhaps it is in your break time or lunch break with who you spend time with.  Those breaks or gap from an objective typically means time spent without that work purpose getting in the way.

Make Friendships Last Beyond The Workplace

While there are many friendships that occur in a workplace, all too many of them stay there, in the workplace.  They don’t extend into your personal life and unfortunately they often dwindle away once those people are no longer working together.  Sometimes this happens when people leave companies, but unfortunately it even happens more often, such as when people change departments, roles or even projects.  That common goal was what drew them together and there was nothing to base the connections on beyond that.  So, what can be done to extend a friendship and make it last?

Connect at a Personal Level

A personal connection is extremely powerful.  It lets you immediate draw upon something in each other’s worlds outside the workplace and gives a common ground to know each other at.  If you have personal connections, you can find and share more about your lives together outside the office.  Make an effort to know and show genuine interest in the other person’s life.  This allows you to relate to them in new ways, find similar interests and give topics of discussion that extend beyond the day to day work.

Give Selflessly to the Friendship

This is a given for a friendship in any situation.  If you can truly give without expectations to another person, it is by far the easiest way to make friends with them.  It shows you care about them instead of yourself.  Make an effort to offer your time or help and don’t ever expect anything in return.  This will deepen a friendship so that it can last beyond the workplace.

Connect Outside of the Office

Finally, once you have some connection and have given into a friendship look to extend that once step further.  Connect and build that friendship outside the workplace.  This can be the most powerful of the three here in making the connection last beyond the work as it opens an avenue of communication in your personal lives.  You can start this very simply and it makes connecting after a workplace separation (for whatever means) much more comfortable.  Here are a few things you could use to do this:

  • Use each other’s personal email for talking about some non-work related subject.  This might list be sharing of links, videos, pictures or some other simple item, start small.
  • Get together for a sports event or other public gathering
  • Join or create a sport team together
  • Have lunch or dinner (perhaps a BBQ)
  • Invite each other’s families to meet and get together
  • Ask or offer to help for a personal favor (moving, construction, advice, etc)
  • Host a party or event

Virtually anything can be used and I know that making that connection outside the office makes friendships lasting to be far more likely than those build only in the workplace.  Once you have that friendship established, the time may come when you no longer work together and then it will be easy to continue to keep those activities outside of work occurring.  That disconnection from work can even be used as a reason to connect more often outside of work.  I like to get friends together who have worked together in the past or meet for lunch or a drink somewhere ever couple months to stay in touch.  So, I encourage you to take a step and look at the available friendships you have in your workplace and make some effort to step that beyond the workplace to ensure you have a lasting friendship that you can enjoy beyond your current work.  Do it before the opportunity is taken away and then hold onto it!

Prev: The Burden of the Self
Next: Book Review: The No Asshole Rule