How To Have Healthy Friendships With Your Co-Workers

It's worth the effort.

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By Rachel Tulipano

Making new friends can be really challenging once school is over. It can be a tad difficult to meet new people when we spend our time working, exercising at the gym, food shopping at the supermarket, and binge-watching Netflix at home. It might feel intimidating to introduce yourself to someone at work, at the gym, or at the supermarket, because striking up social conversation in these settings could seem distracting or even out of place. As strange as it might feel to introduce yourself to someone while jogging on the treadmill or reaching for the same watermelon while food shopping, it can actually be really neat to meet people during your normal routine.

Second to school, work is where we spend the bulk of our time. Whether you’re in the military, a schoolteacher, an accountant, or cashier, you can (and should) make new friendships at work. The people you work with are going to be the people you see nearly as often as your significant other and children, if you have any. These are the people you’re going to work on projects with, set goals with, present with, and maybe even sit next to on a regular basis. Who knows, a co-worker could even become your new BFF.

Given how often colleagues interact and collaborate, it is only fitting to want to establish healthy friendships with your co-workers. Here are a few simple ways to do just that.

How To Have Healthy Friendships With Your Co-Workers

1. Spend lunchtime together.

It is common for traditional employees to have between 30 minutes and an hour off during a lunch block to grab some food, take a walk, or just step away from the desk. Use this time to get to make friends at work. Having lunch with your colleagues can really help take your mind off of the job and just enjoy the company.

Oftentimes co-workers will joke around, share funny stories, lean on each other for advice, and make light of any work stress you might be feeling. Even if you don’t want to eat, ask a colleague to take a walk with you outside and simply enjoy time together away from the office. Spending this half hour or more can really help you bond with your co-workers in a more personal manner.

2. Become social media friends.

Hopefully by now you know the importance of keeping your social media pages clean and appropriate. If your pages are suitable for work and you wouldn’t be embarrassed if your boss saw your latest candid photo, then by all means add your colleagues as friends on Facebook, Instagram, and more.

Depending on your job, you may already have connected with your co-workers online, such as in marketing, social media management, etc. But, if you haven’t yet, don’t be afraid to take the plunge. Befriending your colleagues on social sites can actually be helpful in getting to know each other better.

Seeing photos of your co-worker’s new baby, or a colleague’s wedding, or sharing posts about your new puppy can really humanize your perception of them and their perceptions of you. Sometimes it’s easy to be all work and no play. Getting on social media can help break down professionalism enough to get to know each other better (but do remember to keep things professional and appropriate at work).

3. Compete with grace.

Sometimes two close colleagues end up competing for the same promotion, place bids for the same project, or discover that they both are aiming for the same goals. Please know that you absolutely can be friends with someone you’re in competition with. It’s all about competing with grace.

If you find that you and a close co-worker are applying to the same job within the company, be honest with each other. Offer your support and even consider reviewing each other’s resumes. Competition does not have to be this nasty, aggressive process. You have every right to go after any professional endeavor within your reach, just as the person sitting next to you does. As long as everyone is working hard and fairly, competition can be friendly. Remember to keep your competitiveness in check if you want to keep your workplace friendships healthy.

4. Hold yourself to an admirable standard.

Ultimately, maintaining healthy relationships at work means holding yourself to high standards. Even if you find that your work friends are your closest friends, remember you do have to work with them on a regular basis.

Avoid getting too personal in ways that could affect the workplace harmony. Do not get emotional with your work friends, as these are the people you want to admire you. Avoid entertaining any drama, unprofessional behavior, or doing something that could jeopardize your job.

Remember: yes, your co-workers can become some of your best friends, but you’re at work to work. A workplace friendship should never put your job on the line. It is a delicate balance between doing the job you were hired to do while also maintaining healthy friendships with those you work with. If you can find this balance, you’ll be golden.

Your place of work is a natural setting to meet new people and create new friendships. Some of your closest friendships may have been formed during work hours with the people around you. These friendships can be just as meaningful and important as any childhood friendship. Just be certain that you continue working hard at your job and staying focused on the work you need to accomplish. Distractions are never good! Otherwise, you should be well on your way to maintaining healthy relationships in the workplace. Go you!

Originally Published on GenTwenty.

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