6 Tips for Befriending Your Co-Workers

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Between meetings, lunches, and impromptu Starbucks runs, it’s easy to meet new people in the workplace, whether it’s your internship or your job at the campus gym. Even if you get along with your co-workers, extending a casual office friendship to a full-fledged, lets-hang-out-this-weekend-friendship can be tricky. Still, forming these friendships is totally worth it. "I've generally had really positive experiences trying to become real friends with my co-workers, and it's definitely never a bad idea," says Annie Pei, a senior at the University of Chicago. “Because, honestly, who doesn't want more friends?"

Becoming friends "in real life" can also make you better at your job or internship! "Being real friends with my fellow interns really made the internship for me," says Katie Naymon, a junior at Johns Hopkins University. "Being actual friends has led to things like intern sleepovers and tons of inside jokes, which has in turn made us more collaborative in the workplace." The more comfortable you are interacting with your co-workers in a casual setting, the easier it will be to discuss important work-related issues or collaborate on a project. Check out tips from collegiettes who have managed to forge real friendships with their coworkers!

1. Take the Initiative

Making friends can seem a little awkward at first. How should you go about taking your office acquaintanceship outside of the workplace? Luckily, because you and your co-workers work at the same place, you are likely to have at least some similar interests, which will make becoming friends even easier—so don’t be afraid to be proactive! "I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that if you want to be friends with someone [is] don't be afraid to be forward about it," Annie says. "I know a lot of people who hesitate calling up that fellow intern and hold off making plans because they feel kind of awkward, but it's really not that strange." Because why wouldn't your co-worker want to be friends with you, right? You’re awesome!

2. Go to Lunch

You can start your out-of-office friendship by forming a relationship inside the workplace. Why not ask your fellow interns or co-workers to lunch? Everybody has to eat, after all! "I think [my fellow interns and I] all became good friends when we started going to lunch together and eventually created some sort of bizarre inside jokes," Katie says. "Once you have just one sort of mutual joke, it takes off after that. I'm really confident we will all remain close even when we go back to school in the fall."

3. Hang Out After Hours

After you establish an in-office friendship, it's up to you to initiate an after-hours or weekend get-together. "Don't be afraid to approach your co-worker and ask them what their plans are after work,” Annie advises. “Don't be afraid to text them during the weekend to see what they're up to, and don't be afraid to even invite them to go out with you and your own friends.” They are probably looking to make friends as well, and will likely be happy that you suggested hanging out! It doesn’t have to be anything formal, either—just ask if they want to stop by the dining hall as you walk back home, or see if they want to grab lunch on the weekend.

4. Get a Group Together

If asking a co-worker to hang out one-on-one seems intimidating, try organizing a group outing. Send an email or mass text to a small group of your co-workers asking if anyone wants to go to happy hour after work or see a movie you've all been talking about. Suggesting a specific time and date will make the planning go more smoothly!

5. Friendship = Teamwork

Once you’ve formed friendships with your co-workers, don’t slack off by gossiping and goofing off with your new friends at work. Instead, use your newfound connection to work as a team! Show your boss that you're a team player—it’s always a great quality in any employee. "Having actual friendships helps us to work together, and I think we're really good at balancing work with non-work," says Evan Goldstein, a sophomore at Boston College and one of Katie's fellow interns. "The strong friendships with [the other] interns make me look forward to coming to my job." 

6. Keep Your Personal Life Outside of Work

Once you've formed that outside-of-work friendship, it's important to set boundaries depending on where you're socializing. "I think it's crucial to keep the work chat for work and personal life details for a lunch break or post-work festivities," says Kelsey Mulvey, a senior at Boston University. "Talking about your crazy weekend or boy drama at work is super unprofessional." That said, even though you and your co-workers might be BFFs, it's important to remember to maintain a professional demeanor at work and stay focused!

Even though taking the initiative to turn your work friendships into real life friendships can seem awkward and risky, making the effort to do it is worth it in the long run. You'll enjoy going to work more, collaborate better with your co-workers, network, and, of course, have more friends!

Photo Credits:
Women Drinking
Woman in Office

About The Author

Kristin is sophomore at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, studying magazine journalism. Last year, she was a Freshman 15 blogger for Seventeen, and she's excited to work with Seventeen again this summer as a web intern. Kristin is mildly obsessed with Harry Potter, weddings, How I Met Your Mother, magazines, crafting, and fro-yo.

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