Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Friends Forever (Or At Least During the Week)

Making friends in the workplace is a long and painful process. In college, making friends is simple. Knock back three shots of vodka on a Saturday night with your freshman roommate, roam the halls searching for parties, and I can pretty much guarantee that that girl who offers you one of her Mike’s Hard Lemonades will be your new cafeteria buddy, or that girl from your French class will recognize you as you stagger out of the communal bathrooms and ask you if you’ll join her for a beer out of her mini-fridge (good Lord, do I miss those days!).

Work friends are a different story. For one thing, unlike college, no one is starting on a level playing field. Your employees have already made their friends and are going to be wary to let you into their clique (and, oh boy, do office cliques exist). Also, not everyone is the same age so starting a conversation with the 45-year-old in the cubicle next to you about your latest obsession with Chace Crawford might not be the best conversation starter. Work friends may be hard to attain, but there are some ways to try and find yourself a new lunch buddy. Plus, according to Rath’s Gallup Organization research, people with at least three friends at work were 46% more likely to be satisfied with their job. So get out there and make a friend and you just might find that work ain’t so bad after all.

Put yourself out there.
Sitting at your cubicle day in and day out not speaking to anyone will assure you lunches spent alone reading the latest best-selling novel at the deli next your office. I speak from experience here. For the first few months at my first job, I avoided eating lunch in the office to avoid conversations with my fellow co-workers. I blame it on my shy demeanor and my bitterness at not landing an editorial job right out of college. But being bitter is no way to start a friendship. Nor is being too shy to make eye contact with people while grabbing coffee in the kitchen in the morning.

Flattery will get you everywhere.
I truly believe compliments were the key to me securing work friendships. “Oh, is that a new dress?” and “Where did you get cute bracelet from?” are my favorite words to put together while at work. Not only do people think you are truly interested in what they are wearing and saying, but it also takes up at least ten minutes of your boring day to hear about how that dress is actually two years old (and just looks new because your co-worker is great at taking things to the cleaners) and how J.Crew is having a sale on jewelry.

Look enthralled.
Asking follow-up questions and appearing to be interested in your co-worker’s new low-sodium diet is, yes, I realize, very, very hard. Because you could really care less if she can only season her vegetables and chicken with lemon despite her love of soy sauce and table salt. But, feigning interest will in fact be beneficial to you and earn you work friends. And someday the new girl will have to listen to you rattle on about your eating habits.

Never be afraid to ask for help.
Odd as this may seem, a lot of my close work friends are either in my department or sit near the office machinery, meaning the copy machine, fax machine, you get the picture. Don’t be scared to ask those around you for help when scanning a document for your boss or making 20 copies of your meeting’s agenda. Helping hands will be eager to assist, and you might even get a new friend out of the deal.

And remember, a work friend means someone you can gossip with and let’s face it, gossip is the best cure to a boring day at the office.


Anonymous said...

So the working world isn't like "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" where Kate Hudson has her three best friends at work and they all have so much fun? Hm . . that makes me sad. But it sounds like work is like high school where you need to find at least one friend so as not to be the loser who sits alone at lunch (or at the cubicle).

Ad Girl said...

Finding your one good friend is imperative. I absolutely need someone to vent to when my disgusting excuse for a boss rears her ugly head and more importantly when she goes into the tortuous details of her sex life. BUT, you must be very careful who you gossip with at work. There are always those coworkers who may seem like your friend but will turn there back on you in a second if it means getting ahead......and I just vomited a little bit as the mental image of my boss' sexcapades just creeped back into my head as I am writing this.

Nandini said...

Some of my closest friends I made on my first job and I love how close I am to them. And of course, no better source for office gossip ;)

Samhaldsfestarin said...

I agree very much with this