14 Ways To Make Friends at Work (And To Do So Professionally)

Updated February 3, 2023

Developing friendly relationships at work is an important element of a positive company culture. Making friends with coworkers can help boost on-the-job morale, improve your productivity, contribute to a better overall work-life balance and make employees more comfortable asking for help without fear of being judged. Knowing how to make friends at work can make your workday more pleasant.

In this article, we offer practical, actionable steps you can take to begin developing professional workplace relationships.

Why workplace friendships are important

Having positive relationships at work can:

  • Improve your mood. People who are friendly with their coworkers enjoy camaraderie with their peers. This can help build morale and boost your mood at work.

  • Boost your productivity: When you're feeling positive and supported by your coworkers, you may feel more committed to your team and engaged in projects making you want to work harder and be more productive.

  • Encourage career growth: With dependable, helpful coworkers, your work performance may also improve as you begin to feel more confident and comfortable asking for help and advice, which, in turn, will help you grow in your role, company and career.

Related: 8 Ways To Build Workplace Relationships

How to make friends at work

Making friends at work can be a valuable and easy way to improve your career and personal life. Here are simple ways you can start making friends at work:

1. Introduce yourself

If you haven't done so already, introduce yourself to your coworkers. Taking the initiative to meet people helps establish an initial relationship that can develop the foundation for future quality relationships. If you have already met the coworkers in your department, go out of your way to meet people outside your department. You may find great connections and people with common interests in different parts of your company.

Read more: How To Introduce Yourself to New Coworkers

2. Learn and use their names

Take the time to learn your coworkers' names and greet them by name. Using a person's name is a great way to show them that you're invested in getting to know them and that you care about who they are. It is also a great way to remember their name and helps you associate that name with a face.

3. Use greetings and ask questions

Say "hello" and "goodbye" to your colleagues when you come to work at the start of your shift and when you leave at the end. Ask friendly questions about their weekend, hobbies or any information they might volunteer. Paying attention and asking questions about them shows you care. Natural conversation often develops the more frequently you interact with people in your workplace.

Related: How To Get To Know Your Coworkers Through Questions

4. Be positive

It's important to have a positive attitude at work. When you maintain a positive persona, your coworkers are more likely to want to be around you. It can also help you find other positive, upbeat individuals with whom you can discuss ideas and develop friendships. A positive mindset can also inspire others to think and act positively.

Body language is typically an indicator of your comfort and interest. If possible, smile and nod when talking to colleagues to make it clear that you're interested in what they say. Also, keep your palms open and naturally use your arms when you talk to show you are friendly and open to conversation.

Read more: Positive Thinking in the Workplace

5. Decorate your space

Hang up pictures, add small trinkets or display decorations in your workspace that show your personality and hobbies. For example, family photos or eye-catching decorations are great conversation starters. You may learn that your coworker also loves to ski, grew up in the same town or has the same favorite flower as you do.

Related: 15 Things To Put On Your Desk and Why

6. Bring in coffee or food

Bring in coffee or baked goods for breakfast to share with your team. Leave the treats in the break room with a small note, or bring them around the office and hand them out in person. Either way, your colleagues may want to thank you personally, providing a great opportunity to chat with new people. It might even inspire others to trade off on who brings the coffee or food in the future.

7. Eat lunch or get coffee with coworkers

Rather than eating at your desk, have lunch in your workplace's kitchen, cafeteria or break room. Or, if there’s a good restaurant or coffee shop nearby, ask coworkers if they want to go there on your lunch break. Inviting coworkers to grab a cup of coffee or lunch can help you meet people away from your desk and outside of your department, and you can engage in casual conversation that enables you to get to know each other better.

8. Work in common areas

If your workplace has a common collaboration area or working more flexibly, consider spending some time there. You can interact with other employees working in the area, which may help you meet new people or develop existing relationships.

9. Offer to help

Another way to improve your workplace relationships is to help your peers. Even if they do not specifically ask for help, you can still offer to do something they would appreciate, such as dropping off mail or helping them finish a project. Fostering a community of support and teamwork helps build relationships and friendships more naturally.

Read more: How To Be a Great Coworker

10. Attend work and nonwork events

On your first day, ask if there are any work events you can attend to get to know your colleagues, such as an after-work social hour or team-building activity.

Some workplaces have committees for social activities or other morale-boosting events. Ask your supervisors if such a committee exists and if you can join it. This kind of group can help you meet other employees and give you social events to attend.

11. Recognize and support others

Recognize your coworkers’ wins at work and congratulate them. It could be a presentation they aced or a recently received promotion. Being supportive and communicating your support to your coworkers shows that you care and consider them a part of your team.

Related: 120 Coworker Appreciation Messages

12. Start a particular interest group

Create an interest group for employees to enjoy outside of work. A book club, cooking group or hiking club can be a fantastic way to get to know coworkers with similar interests and develop friendships in and outside your workplace.

13. Plan activities outside of work

If your company hosts regular social activities outside of work, make an effort to attend. Any opportunities you have to converse withcolleagues about nonwork topics can help improve workplace relationships. If there aren't any scheduled social activities, suggest one to your supervisors or plan one yourself, such as a group dinner at a local restaurant or an outing to a brewery after wory.

14. Start a chatroom

Often, companies have a chat program for discussing projects, asking questions and sharing files. You could start a chat channel or room for coworkers who might share a common interest. It could be about sports, a TV series, recipes, books or any other appropriate topic and is a great way to engage coworkers to share their experiences, thoughts and opinions on shared interests. Just check company policy before beginning and avoid letting it distract from productivity.

Related: Complete Guide To Building Relationships at Work

Tips for setting boundaries at work

While there are several benefits to creating and nurturing work relationships, it is equally important to ensure you set boundaries to maintain professionalism and company ethics. Use these tips to help maintain healthy and professional work relationships:

  • Respect others’ boundaries: While asking casual questions about family and hobbies might be a good way to begin a workplace relationship, asking personal questions that might make the coworker uncomfortable is not ok.

  • Don’t overshare: Just as you shouldn’t ask questions that are too personal, you also shouldn’t offer information about yourself that is too personal. Doing so will likely make your coworker feel uncomfortable. It might also be information that makes them uncomfortable and conflicted, such as you did something against company policy.

  • Avoid unprofessional conversations: To maintain professionalism and professional friendships at work, there are certain topics you should avoid with coworkers—both in and out of the office. Avoid any discussion that is not appropriate, including politics, religion, criminal activity, medical or financial issues, negative talk of the company and general gossip. Most are inflammatory and confidential and could disrupt workflow and the team culture.

  • Engage in work-safe conversations: There are several topics you can talk to your coworkers about, such as family, pets, movies, podcasts, music, sports and books. These topics will help you learn more about each other's personalities, hobbies and interests without starting debates and work disruption.

Related: How To Avoid Work Gossip

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