Originally authored by Jimmy Okuszka at The Muse
Starting a new job can be pretty overwhelming; you’re managing new priorities, a new workload, and a new boss (and their expectations). Not to mention, you have to get to know—and befriend—a whole new group of co-workers.
Having friends at work is important —and chances are you chose this new role in the hopes of getting along with your teammates—but who has time to think about that when there’s already so much on your plate?
To ease the transition, here are 15 tips that’ll help you get off on the right foot with your new colleagues—without having to put in too much effort.
Yup, it’s that easy.
1. Introduce Yourself (and Participate in Small Talk)
First, make sure you’re introducing yourself to everyone you meet—take advantage of downtime spent with co-workers in the kitchen, before a meeting, at the water cooler, or in the elevator. Ask them what team they’re on, their favorite part of working at the company, their weekend plans—anything!
Small talk can be intimidating, so here are some topics you can prepare to help the conversation go well.
2. Learn People’s Names (and Use Them in Conversation)
As Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, said, “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Learn co-workers’ names, use them when speaking to them, and you’ll leave a more positive impression from the start.
3. Eat Lunch Away From Your Desk
It’s an easy way to meet and speak with people outside of your team—and a good excuse to take a real break (which is good for you and your productivity).
4. Go for Coffee
Offer to take a co-worker out for coffee when you’re both free (and pay for their drink). Besides being a friendly gesture and an easy way to get to know them, the other person will probably offer to get you back another time—a simple way to ensure you get to hang out again!
5. Suggest After-Work Drinks (or Dinner)
Ask a small group (if you’re not sure who, start with your immediate team) if they’d be interested in grabbing drinks or food near the office. The casual environment will open the conversation to non-work stuff, and you’ll get to connect on a more human level.
6. Decorate Your Desk
Add some personality to your space! Putting photos or knickknacks on your desk helps others learn more about you and will inspire off-the-cuff conversations when people stop by.
7. Join (or Start) a Company Interest Group
If you’re lucky enough to work at a company with pre-established groups—like a kickball team or movie club—join one that aligns with your interests. If there aren’t any, a book club is an easy group to start yourself. Just find a few others who like to read, pick a book, and schedule a time and place to discuss it.
8. Bring in Food
We all know that food brings people together. Co-workers will appreciate the gesture (especially when they have no snacks on hand), and it’ll give you a chance to interact with new people. Bonus points if they’re homemade and people ask for your recipe.
9. Start a Chat Room
If you know you share a common interest with co-workers, start a chat room where everyone can discuss a designated topic. It can be about anything work appropriate—sports, a TV show, or recipes, for example.
10. Work Away From Your Desk
If you can do your work from anywhere in the office, take advantage of the common area tables or couches so that you can meet people you don’t sit right next to.
11. Have a Positive Attitude
If you don’t complain about your work constantly or get involved in office drama, people will naturally want to be around you and soak up your positive spirit.
12. Offer to Help
Even if it’s outside of your job description, offer a helping hand to your colleagues before they ask. It’ll give you the chance to work with and meet other people, and they’ll appreciate your team-player mindset.
13. Greet People
Saying “hello” and “have a good night” to your desk-mates every day is a simple way to be friendly. And when you pass people in the hall, don’t put your head down— a smile or say hello, and, if you haven’t officially met them yet, introduce yourself.
14. Be Aware of Your Body Language
Crossing your arms, texting on your phone, or putting on your headphones will make you seem closed-off and unapproachable. The more welcoming you appear physically, the more likely people will approach you or initiate conversations.
15. Be Authentic
Last but not least, be yourself. There’s no use in trying to make friends if they don’t know the real you. While you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) share everything, don’t be afraid to discuss your life and interests outside of work—the best friendships form when they start from an honest place.
Being the new person at work is intimidating for most of us, but I can promise you that making the effort to form friendships with your co-workers will pay off in the end. With all the hours we spend in the office, workplace friendships are what can make a bad job good, or a good job great.
So, if you find yourself in a new role, try out these tips, and you’ll soon be able to call your co-workers your friends, too.