How to Connect With Your Coworkers

How to Connect With Your Coworkers

Did you know that if you have a full-time job, you spend at least 50% of your waking hours at work? That doesn’t even include commuting to work, thinking about work, and stressing about work. Kind of depressing, isn’t it?

Now, think about your coworkers. You spend a good chunk of your day with these people. How do you feel about that? Are you okay with that, or does it bother you? Do you even like your coworkers?

Some people just clock in, do their jobs, and then leave without having even uttered a word of pleasantry to a single coworker. They focus on work and work alone because, well, it’s a workplace, not a social hotspot.

While that notion makes a lot of sense, it’s not always the best idea. Many statistics show strong ties between isolation at work and depression. In 2011, a study published in Health Psychology revealed that not having any social support at work could take years off of your life. It was also found that not having any emotional support at work increases your risk of dying in the next 20 years by 140%. As alarming as those statistics are, they still make sense. You spend a good chunk of your life at work, after all. You need to be happy and sane during all that time, and the best way to achieve that is to be around friends, or at least people who like, respect, and support you.

When Gallup conducted one of their many well-being surveys, they discovered that one of the biggest factors for happiness in the workplace is having at least one close friend at work. Not only that, but it’s also been found that people who have a best friend at work turn out to be seven times more productive on the job. Well, whaddya know – not only does having friends at work make you happy, it also makes you much better at your job!

No matter how you slice it, the fact remains: having friends at work is good for you.

Right now, you might be saying, “That’s nice, but have you actually met my coworkers? If you came into work every single morning only to have the self-righteous office supermom shave 100 more pictures of her drooling baby into your face, or if you had to listen to the guy in the next cubicle clip his toenails every Thursday during lunch break, you’d run for cover too!”

Oh, yes, we would, but we wouldn’t let that keep us from enjoying our jobs. The world is aplenty with rude, obnoxious, kooky, and downright annoying coworkers, but you shouldn’t let that bother you. If you can’t seem to find one normal coworker in the sea of bad coworkers at your workplace, you don’t have to befriend anyone. Instead, try to build mutual respect and trusting relationships with the coworkers you’ve been dealt. You know what they say, when life gives you lemons…

If the two most recent paragraphs seem like gibberish to you, you probably have perfectly normal coworkers who seem nice, fun, and cool, but you’re hesitant to befriend them or you simply don’t know how to strike up a conversation.

Does this ring a bell to you? If so, you came to the right place!

Remember that you need to BE a friend to HAVE a friend.

This is the golden rule of maintaining any type of relationship. Roll up your sleeves and form an ally with everyone at work, no matter how much you have to grit your teeth. In order to do that, you can help with their projects, offer a sympathetic ear whenever they grouse about having to work overtime, or invite them out to lunch. You can’t expect your coworkers to cover a project for you, spot you a five, or even respect you if you take, take, and take without reciprocating any favors.

Now, let’s take a look on how you can be a friend to your coworkers. We came up with 5 reasons why you could be friendless at work. Pick one that resonates the most with you and read on to find out how you can connect with your coworkers effectively.

You’re new.
Being the new kid on the block can be nerve-racking. You’ve entered a workplace that already has its arrangements in place. Everyone’s in their little circle of friends, and they have such great rapport going on that they’re reluctant to have the newbie come by and change it somehow. Fortunately, there are still many people who would greet you with open arms and gladly show you the ropes of the job. You want to seek those people out and befriend them immediately. It would also help to learn everyone’s name – from the CEO to the temporary intern – and be sure to address them by name. It shows them that you care enough to learn their name… and remember it.

You got off on the wrong foot with your coworkers.
Maybe you did or said something that made your coworkers avoid you. If you’re in the wrong, apologize and try to start over on a blank slate. If you were misunderstood, put forth the effort to prove the fact that first impressions don’t always last forever. It might be hard to do, but once your coworkers see the real, genuine you, they’ll be likely to warm up to you.

The workplace is too cliquey.
High school is long over, but cliques will never die. Unfortunately, a lot of grown adults still fall victim to cliques. If you see a lot of favoritism, exclusive group outings, and inside jokes floating around your workplace, you’re probably in a clique-heavy environment. In this sort of scenario, you can only do three things:

*Find other coworkers who are independent.
Not everyone wants to be part of a clique. Those people are wandering about, doing their own thing. Trust us; they’re out there! You would see such a person running errands alone during her lunch hour, sipping wine in a corner at a company party, or chatting with various coworkers from different cliques.

*Try to break into a clique.
Befriend a few people from a clique of your choosing, and put forth the effort to get to know them. Chances are they probably don’t even realize how unfriendly they seem, so they’ll be likely to welcome your friendship. One day, they’ll invite you out for drinks with their exclusive circle of work friends. Once that happens, you’re in!

*Ignore the cliques and get to know everyone at an individual level.
Pretend that the cliques don’t exist and just mingle with your coworkers whenever you get a chance. When you click with a coworker, invite him out for lunch and don’t worry about what his posse thinks of your one-on-one time together!

You’re introverted.
Introverted people often come off as unapproachable. If you feel that your coworkers see you in that light, break free from that image! Find a couple of coworkers you feel most comfortable with and focus on getting to know them. If you’re too shy to drop by their desk and chat them up, you can send them an instant message or leave a comment on their Facebook wall. This can help encourage you form more relationships at work.

You don’t like your coworkers – plain and simple.
You feel uneasy around this coworker who’s just coming out of her goth phase, but what you don’t know is that she shares your fondness for horses. You know that coworker who wears those hideous kitten sweaters? She lives on the street where you grew up. You can’t stand that smelly guy who ducks out of work an hour early every day, but little did you know that he has a second job to help pay for his child’s medical bills. The point here is that you don’t really know anyone. Don’t be so quick to judge everyone in your workplace and try to approach everyone with an open mind and a great big smile!

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