Working with people you can call friends is wonderful.
For one thing, your daily labor is lots more fun. You may also be inspired to greater engagement and creativity, which could be good for your career. You may even willingly put in longer hours, which is also good for your career.
Most of all, work colleagues — the only people who truly “get” what you do all day — can keep you sane, watch your back, act as sounding boards and sometimes make a terrible job bearable.
You will therefore want to make and keep strong, positive relationships at work.
It starts with simply introducing yourself, learning people’s names and participating in a certain amount of small talk. Hate small talk? Well, it’s the lubricating oil of human relationships so you’d be wise to become proficient at it. Everyone can master this skill.
More tips: If your employer is large enough or organized enough to sponsor groups (like a basketball team or book club), join the one that interests you most. Or start one. Occasionally invite co-workers out for coffee or even lunch.
Please don’t skip the annual company picnic or holiday party. Always look for ways to do small favors or random acts of kindness. Be inclusive (i.e., avoid cliques). Seek out common ground by asking open-ended questions and really listening to the answers.
It sounds like a lot but you don’t have to do all of these things, or even most of them. Human friendships tend to form naturally as the result of prolonged togetherness. So relax, remembering to select your at-work friends wisely, just as you do the private-life ones, steering clear of the conniving, the false and the untrustworthy.
At the same time, set good boundaries. Don’t share information about yourself that could later be used against you — because work friendships are not really like other friendships. They may feel like the real thing, but most of the time they’re no more than relationships of convenience, based on proximity and mutual self-interest. When the job ends, the job friendships usually fade away.
Not always, of course. Sometimes the buddy you make at work turns into a treasured lifelong confidant. In general, though, just focus on enjoying every friendship as long as it lasts.