Work friends is a topic that leaves me feeling conflicted. It can be absolutely wonderful or it can be catastrophic. It all depends on situation and the people involved. Having an office like mine, where most of the people I work with are all young, strong-willed, women, I feel like I’ve been exposed to the topic more than most.
“It can be absolutely wonderful or it can be catastrophic.”
Breaking into the scene can seem difficult. If there are already groups or clichés established, you can feel like the odd man out trying to understand the flow of how things work. Do you hang out longer in the break room to get to know people? Are the people you work with cool? Do other people you work with have relationships outside of work? All these questions swirling around you, all awhile you are trying to put yourself out there as the new kid on the block. If your work is like mine you’ll come to discover that work relationships very easily can translate into personal, out of work relationships.
“If there are already groups or clichés established, you can feel like the odd man out.”
One of the first steps I took to figure out which ones were the real deal and which weren’t were by simply suggesting something as easy as happy hour. An event like happy hour is great because many people can go, it’s very casual and if things get weird you can always get away pretty easy. If things are going well, you’ll quickly see the transition from work friends to personal friends, inviting to out on the weekends, see a movie, etc.. as long as both of you are comfortable doing that. You’ll notice your colleagues are sometimes a little cautious getting to know you too well, too fast. This is understandable considering these are people that no matter what happens, you have to work with. That is what can make things kind of tricky.
“If things are going well, you’ll quickly see the transition from work friends to personal friends.”
Why I said the topic leaves me conflicted is because I’ve met a person I consider one of my best friends at my office, but watched her go through problems with another co-worker of ours who she used to be incredibly close with. Our co-worker crossed my friend, in an inexcusable, unprofessional, “I have to go to HR” kind of way and my friend had to report her. Obviously, that did not go well, and quickly our co-worker turned on my friend in a malicious way, almost resulting in my friend quitting. It’s hard to work with someone who dislikes you so much and even harder when you know so much about them.
“It’s hard to work with someone who dislikes you so much and even harder when you know so much about them.”
Work friends should come naturally, like your college or high school friends came before them. The people you work with are in the same boat as you, and you all have something common to lean on. Take it easy getting to know them and buy your time. Its advisable to take it slow spilling all of you secrets right away, but also let them know enough to get to know you. Though I am still what most would consider guarded, I never regret taking any chances on any of the friends I opened myself up to. Take everything as chance to grow in a professional and non-professional sense and you’ll quickly see what people are worth it.
Morgan Croft is a guest blogger for Make New Friends from Jacksonville, Florida.