The importance of work friends

FACT: Most of us will spend a large proportion of our adult lives at work, especially now that many of us are retiring at a much later age (retirement seems so far away *sobs*).

Since work takes up such a large part of our time during our lives, it makes sense that we should work hard to build friendships with our work colleagues. One key contributor to being happy at work is having friends there, but that doesn’t just make it more fun – studies suggest it actually helps productivity and creativity!

A friend in the workplace doesn’t necessarily have to be your very closest friend, but if you do share your working day with someone you can trust and rely on, both of you will find the day much more enjoyable. Of course, making friends at work isn’t always easy, but take it from me, it’s worth it!

One small step at a time
Making friends at work doesn’t have to involve grand gestures or overt shows of generosity. Simple things like greeting colleagues in a friendly way at the start of the day, or offering to make the tea, can break the ice and form the basis for a long-lasting friendship. Going back to my blog about Millennials, Gen Y need to understand that developing good friendships at work will take time but are paramount.

Learn about what you have in common
Listening to colleagues can help you to discover what things you might have in common. Talking about these things will help build a rapport between you, with the conversation flowing easily if it’s about things you both enjoy. It’s easy to spot clues that will help you to strike up meaningful conversations if you pay attention. For example, if your colleague goes to the gym after work each week, try asking about their fitness routine or offer to train together. If they watch specific TV programs, and you also do, talk about the latest episodes. Topics of conversation that are neither work-related nor too personal in nature are great for gently building a genuine friendship.

Don’t get drawn into the negatives
Every workplace has its fair share of office politics and gossip, but if you want to build a meaningful friendship with a colleague, it’s important to steer clear of this kind of activity. You will of course hear about it all as it is inevitable. Don’t be tempted to try to join any office cliques, or to spread gossip in the workplace, and focus instead on building friendships with colleagues in a simple, positive way! You’ll come across better this way.

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