Establishing good relationships with your coworkers is an essential part of enjoying your job. Being on good terms with team members increases job performance, creates a stable atmosphere, and reduces daily stresses. While some people seem naturally gifted at making friends in the workplace, balancing work and relationships may seem daunting for you. If you find yourself having difficulty growing relationships with your coworkers, here are ten tips for building those relationships and improving your general work environment.
1. Fully Engage in Conversations
Whether it is venting frustrations, verbally working through problems, or just making a connection with someone else, most people just need to be heard. A simple yet critical step to building healthy relationships is to develop your listening skills. Simply put: listen when people talk to you, and keep track of conversations. Remember to ask your coworkers about ongoing situations they previously mentioned, and take a general interest in their lives. This builds the bonds of trust and encourages people to engage with you more frequently and on a more personal level.
2. Start With a Core Group
Trying to build too many relationships at once can be a challenge, and you can more effectively keep engaged with a select group of people much easier. Even if your long-term goal is to make friends with all of your coworkers, start by prioritizing those with whom you work closely and see regularly. This will help avoid mixing up names and confusing personal details from similar conversations while first getting to know your cohorts. Having a strong, core social group at work can also serve to your advantage when getting to know additional coworkers in the future. Mutual friendships are great ice breakers, and insider information may help you avoid social faux pas.
3. Invest Time Outside of Work
Relationships are emotional and social investments, and they take time to build. One of the best ways to grow sincere friendships with coworkers is to spend time together outside of work. Of course, no two people are alike, so you may have to try several different group activities until you find something everyone can enjoy. Dining out or going to movies is always a good start, and never underestimate the social power of a barbeque. If you have a large backyard, you might look into custom pools Las Vegas area to create the perfect space for friendly gatherings in warm weather. Plus, if you and your coworkers have children, a pool can be a big hit!
4. Make Opportunities for Interaction
Sticking to your exact work schedule does not leave much room for camaraderie. Even if your time outside of work is limited, you can try showing up for meetings a few minutes early or staying a few minutes late at the end of the day to make time for friendly conversation. If you work in isolated spaces like cubicles or personal offices, you should try spending a little extra time in the common areas like the kitchen or company break room. That is a great way to create openings for conversations with coworkers you might not ordinarily see.
5. Push Past Your Comfort Zone
Some people are outgoing, but others are naturally Introverted. If you tend to keep to yourself, you have to learn how to step outside your comfort zone. Take small steps as needed, but keep moving forward. The more you interact with your coworkers, the easier it will become. As you develop more healthy relationships with the people around you, you will find that your confidence to reach out to new people will also increase. Just keep in mind that, even if you are outgoing, your coworkers might not be, so it may take time for them to push past their comfort zones as well.
6. Find What You Have in Common
Finding common ground is the best way to establish a framework for any relationship. You need a foundation in order to build, so finding commonalities should be one of your first goals when getting to know people. It can be simple things like hobbies, favorite TV shows, or other areas of interest. As you get to know one another, you may find even more commonalities that can help to increase the human element and build more trust between you, because the more common ground you can establish, the stronger your bonds will become.
7. Be Respectful of Differences
No two people see eye-to-eye on everything. This lesson ties back to learning how to be a good listener, because with conversations come disagreements. Healthy adult relationships require being able to respect the prerogative of people to have different opinions. Be prepared to find differences of opinion as you get to know people and learn how to disagree without being destructive to your relationship. When you have a disagreement, keep in mind your commonalities. If you verbally disagree, keep it friendly and respectful.
8. Consider Volunteer Work Together
If you and your coworkers have a shared interest in a local nonprofit, spending the extra time volunteering can help to strengthen your bonds and relieve stress. Group activities with the added value of supporting an important cause are a great way to strengthen friendships and teamwork skills at the same time. Spreading the word about your volunteer work is also a good way to bring more people into your social network who share similar values. Nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity or a local animal shelter are almost always looking for volunteers, and humanitarian causes are a sure way to make connections in most workplaces. Like any other social activity, you may have to try several different options to find an activity that most or all of your core social group can enjoy.
9. Contribute to Coworkers’ Projects
You should not dismiss the power of gratitude when building relationships. If you help a coworker achieve their goals, they will be much more likely to return the favor. More importantly, by showing an interest in others’ success in the workplace, you will endear yourself to far more people than by leaving a coworker to struggle with tight deadlines or a heavy workload. When you have some downtime between your own projects consider reaching out to help someone else.
10. Do Not Force the Relationship
Ultimately, all relationships are two-way streets. You cannot make a friend out of someone who does not want to be your friend. If your efforts are ignored or outright rejected, the smart move is to back off. The last thing you want to do is create a workplace enemy by being pushy. Take the initial risk of putting yourself out there, try to engage, be friendly, and be polite, but prepare yourself for possible rejection. If that happens, take it in stride and move on to other people.
In any case, keep in mind that growing relationships takes some effort from everyone involved. Feeling intimidated by the prospect of getting to know new people is perfectly normal. Most of your coworkers are likely in the same position as you. Just give it your best effort, stay positive, and keep trying even if a few people disappoint you. The risk is well worth the reward because once you start building friendships with your coworkers, your job will feel a little less like work.