There is an array of skills to master in order to be considered a true public relations professional including management, research, social media and communications. Still, one-on-one internal communications often takes a backseat. “I’m not here to make friends,” is a statement you might hear from colleagues said Laryssa Simpson, Zion & Zion marketing and advertising account executive, in her blog, “Are You Here To Make Friends?”
Simpson points out that there are personal and professional benefits to making friends in the workplace. Benefits include improvements in team creativity, synergy and loyalty. In short, workers who have developed friendly relationships with each other are less likely to hold back when sharing creative ideas. Friends in the workplace are also more likely to communicate when problems arise and have a deeper sense of responsibility toward a project.
Some difficulties people may have when making workplace friends is that it usually requires more face-to-face interaction rather than online interaction. However, this is not to say that online social interaction doesn’t count. “Three major game-changers have entered our world: portable computers, social communication, and smartphones,” said Dr. Larry Rosen, former chair of California State University Psychology Department in an article from The Wall Street Journal. “The total effect has been to allow us to connect more with the people in our virtual world — but communicate less with those who are in our real world.”
“I just don’t like people,” is the common excuse people make when opting out of social situations. For many, this cynical attitude toward society isn’t just recognizing a problem but perpetuating one. For example, imagine that you frequently ride the bus home. Every day that you ride the bus, you assume that someone unpleasant will sit next to you. So, instead of allowing others to sit near you, you occupy two seats. However, your actions aren’t irrational. You have had unpleasant people sit near you in the past. Yet when you adopt the attitude that all people are unpleasant, you become a part of that group.
“Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching and live like it’s heaven on earth.” -Mark Twain
So now that you’re a reformed people-hater, what’s the next step? Like many people, you may have trouble figuring out how to make friends. “This is a very, very common problem,” Thomas Frank, founder of College Info Geek, said. “A lot of people find it difficult to make friends. Especially as they get older or when they, say, move to a new city.”
In his YouTube Video, Frank suggests six tips for people trying to make friends:
- Go Out and Do Active Things: Frank says you should begin any friendship by asking potential friends to join you to do something active. In the office setting, this can be anything from grabbing a coffee to trying out a new lunch spot together.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Activities: “You might be tempted to … only look at things you’re already into,” Frank said. Instead, leave your comfort zone and join an office group, like a Fantasy Football league. Pro tip — ask management to setup team building exercises or volunteer days.
- Don’t Ignore Proximity Friends: Frank says finding a proximity friend allows you to open your horizons. So instead of making friends based on common interests, try making friends with the person sitting right next to you.
- Live By the 3-Second Rule: Frank says that when you see someone, you should decide within three-seconds whether to speak to them. “If you wait any longer than that, your brain’s going to start concocting reasons why you shouldn’t,” Frank said. “You’re going to think you look silly or they look busy and then you’re going to talk yourself out of doing it.”
- Be OK with the Reality that Some Conversations Will Fizzle: Frank said a common reason people are afraid to initiate a conversation is the fear of an awkward exchange. “This is going to happen sometimes, it even happens to total extroverts.”
- Ask Questions and Take an Active Interest In the Other Person: To continue the conversation going longer Frank suggests asking the other person questions. Some questions suitable for the office may be favorite places to eat or plans for the upcoming weekend.
In conclusion, creating friendships at work should be one of your primary goals at work. Create friends. iI you’re not doing it for your emotional well-being, then do it for the overall job.
Have you used one or more of these tips to make an office friend? Suggest you own tips.