How To Make Friends In The Workplace, Without Overstepping Your Boundaries

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There are many differences between college and the workplace. One of the biggest being, you can’t befriend people in a workplace like you did in college.

In college, you were in class with people temporarily. You all worked together to learn the same course material, and it was easy to joke around and get to know one another.

At work, you’re expected to be professional, serious, focused, and drama free. Your career, unlike college, isn’t temporary, and you need to be on your best, adult like behavior in the office so you can advance your career.

So, that brings us to an important question: Is it possible to become friends with co-workers without creating problems at work?

I remember it being an adjustment for me when I started working. Being extremely shy, I would hide away in my cubicle during the initial few weeks, and go as far as to eating at my desk during lunch breaks. The only person I talked to was my supervisor, who sat in the same room as me. I barely interacted with anyone else other than a simple “hello, how are you?”

In a way, I was trying to get a feel for the vibe of my new workplace. Were my co-workers friendly? Was it safe to do more than small talk? Could I really trust these people? Over time, as I became comfortable there, and eventually, I did make friends. In fact, they’re some of my closest friends at the moment.

The trick is to have a good understanding of your surroundings. If you work retail, it’s a lot more chilled out. However, if you’re in an office like me, it’s a bit trickier. The atmosphere and general protocol calls for professionalism, and the lines tend to be blurry in regards to how open you can be. On top of that, there are a ton of people who don’t care to be friendly at work. In fact, the less they interact with others, the better.

Not everyone in your office will be nice, but at the same time, you’ll hopefully meet people who are. The best case scenario: you’ll find people who are nice who you would actually be friends with outside of work.

Once you find these people, you need to figure out if you can trust them as real friends you can talk to about more than just your company. Just make sure you don’t befriend someone who would sell you out over something to save their job or make themselves look good.

Furthermore, you need to be aware of the fact that you’re in a workplace. You do have to appear a certain way and know when is the right time to socialize and when is the right time to get your work done. If you see your friendly co-worker is focused and working, you have to let them do their thing. Wait it out until lunch time or when you see that the general pace of the office is steady before chitchatting.

The moral of the story: It’s not impossible to make friends in a workplace. It just takes time. You need to work up to it, find your people (or person), and soon you’ll be sending each other bitmojis on WhatsApp, talking about the TV shows you both watch, and going out for happy hour after work.

Naureen Nashid

twenty three year old computer science student from new york who loves writing about her feelings, trashy reality shows, singing along to the radio while driving, boybands, and wearing her leather jacket. follow her on twitter @naureennashid.

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