Categorized | Workplace

Communicating with Coworkers

Posted on 21 May 2011

Maybe you’re the new kid on the block at work–or maybe you’re just shy and never formed solid interpersonal communication skills in grade school. But you need these skills to get through that never-ending, eight-hour work grind. If you don’t want to look for another job, the best way to survive each week is to make friends as soon as possible.

If you’re hired at a big, financially stable, highly respected company, you’re going to be thrown into a large population mix of recent college grads. In many consulting and investment banking firms, for example, entire recruitment classes are filled with people from top-tier schools. If you’re just starting out, especially if you’re working 50-plus-hour weeks, companies are likely to encourage social interaction in the workplace.

Those Tight Groups
Smaller companies might present a more difficult challenge because of the tight employee bonds already in place prior to you coming onboard–that’s the nature of small staffs. Instead of trying to fit in on the first day, you might want to get used to your surroundings during the first week or two. Get used to the office and its workers; try to figure out who the moles are and whom you can trust. You will eventually be grouped or paired off with people. Don’t try to rush friendships–they will happen naturally.

Training programs and company outings facilitate the bonds of co-workers.

Training programs and company outings help facilitate the bonds of co-workers. The success of making a transition within a company, where the culture is somewhat collegiate, will be determined by your resistance to the wild fraternity days of old. Have fun, but remember your professional etiquette. You want to stay away from telling questionable stories to co-workers in the office cafeteria. Use your best discretion.

So, now that you know what not to do, what’s the quickest way to gain a pal or two in the office?

One of the foundations of friendship is having a shared interest. Simply by virtue of your decision to enter the same industry, your co-workers and yourself have mutual interests. Once you get used to the idea of befriending someone outside your traditional peer group, you’ll likely find their perspective refreshing. You may have similar tastes in music, movies, and literature. These are great ways to break the ice–you may even want to bring up the possibility of getting a group together to go see a certain movie or concert.

What About Weekends?
Should you feel obligated to go barhopping on the weekends with your co-workers? Work friends don’t necessarily have to become social friends. If they make your workday enjoyable and offer humor, guidance, and interesting conversation, then you need not take it any further. Boundaries are a good thing. While no one is suggesting you cut traditional friendships short, it may be easier to keep borders between your work and non-work lives. That way, outside tensions won’t creep in and you’ll truly be able to leave work behind at the end of each long day.

There are other options. If you’re in the market for a new social scene and are disappointed by the lack of potential at work, there are other places to meet new people. Look into local sports clubs, volunteer opportunities, or outside classes. Ever want to learn flamenco dancing? Thai cooking? Karate? Give it a shot–and don’t worry about mixing business with pleasure


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