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  • Everything that comes with a new job can be intimidating, as you are entering an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people!
  • Many of us struggle to get to know and befriend our new coworkers; the good news, though, is that we can implement a few tips to make the process easier.
  • First, learn names and use them frequently in conversation; this shows that you are friendly and interested in the individual you are talking to.
  • Also, offer help where you can and ask for it, too! The former will show that you are kind, and the latter will make others feel important (which will score you points).
  • Additionally, you should look for opportunities to connect with your new coworkers: get a group together for lunch or ask a coworker to collaborate with you.
  • A fifth and sixth tip: don’t be afraid to ask questions (as this will open the door to bigger conversations) and above all, be yourself.

Starting a new job can be intimidating. You’re entering uncharted territory in an unfamiliar place, doing unfamiliar work, and—perhaps the most intimidating part of all—with unfamiliar people. It can take some time to feel comfortable, to get into the groove of your daily routine, and to become friendly with your coworkers. That’s a given. But sometimes, befriending coworkers proves to be a more challenging task than expected or preferred.

Fortunately, you can quickly learn to befriend your coworkers with greater ease. Right now, it might feel like you’re pulling teeth to strike up conversation and engage with your new colleagues. But by the end of this article, you’ll be an expert at befriending coworkers, with strategies to put to the test.

Get Out of Your Own Way

When I started my first job out of college, I was ridden with anxiety. First off, this job required me to move to a new town, where I knew virtually nobody. The only person who I was somewhat friendly with was the Human Resources Manager—and that’s because we had emailed back and forth about my resume a few weeks prior. Secondly, I had no idea what to expect from a full-time job in an office. I wasn’t sure how comfortable I would feel in the environment, whether I’d like my job, and of course whether I’d befriend my new coworkers.

The first few weeks were rough—but I didn’t do myself any favors. Each day, I went to work, shoved my earbuds into my ears, listened to music, and churned out content. The only time I spoke to my coworkers was when they tapped on my shoulder to ask a question. I didn’t even stick around for social opportunities during lunch. Instead, I walked five minutes to my house and ate there.

I’m an introvert. And so, I responded to this major life transition as many introverts would: I kept to myself and shied away from opportunities to venture outside of my comfort zone. As soon as I realized that I was my own worst enemy, I decided it was time to make some changes. I returned to work the following day and I didn’t put my earbuds in. Instead, I listened to the light conversation in my office and jumped in when I had something to contribute. I also stayed for lunch. As it turned out, everyone else ate together outside or used the break to play a pickup game of basketball (all weather permitting, of course). This time, I joined. Over the course of just a few days, I got to know my coworkers—some of whom are still my friends today.

6 Specific Tips for Making Friends at Work

My main problem was that I was shy and unsure how to approach my new coworkers. Fortunately, I decided to get out of my own way and give socializing a try. Doing so allowed me to befriend my coworkers and feel a whole lot happier at work.

If you’re having trouble befriending your new coworkers, know that I feel your pain. But also, take a note from my book and do what you can to get to know them! I know it’s easier said than done; so here are a few more specific tips that will help you make friends at your new job:

1. Learn and remember names.

First, learn your new coworkers’ names, remember them, and use them! Dr. Jamie Long, a licensed clinical psychologist, explains why this is effective: “As a newcomer in the workplace, the first thing you can do to begin befriending others is to take care in learning your colleagues’ names and use them frequently in conversation. It’s been well-documented that people love the sound of their own name, plus it shows that you are friendly and interested in them as a person.”

2. Offer to help.

Ask if you can be of help. Or, take initiative and jump in there to hold the door open for them. “If you see someone drop a huge stack of papers or struggle to lift something heavy, ask if you can help!” says Licensed Clinical Social Worker Rebecca Ogle. “This will get others to see that you’re a nice person who they might like to get to know. Holding the door open or holding the elevator for someone are other easy ways to help.”

3. Ask for help.

Also, ask for help. People like to feel important! Asking for assistance will accomplish the job. Dr. Mark Borg PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, further explains: “The most practical tip might seem counterintuitive, but people tend to appreciate it when we trust them to take care of us. Of course, this exists on a continuum from disallowing them to contribute to us in any way whatsoever (and we deny them a sense of having value to us) to relying on them so thoroughly that we wear them out (and they refer to us as needy). To have manageable needs that we can offer to others—I really need your help figuring out this assignment, for instance—can go a long way in establishing a sense of camaraderie with our coworkers and can be the starting point of friendship at work.”

4. Look for opportunities to connect.

Keep an eye out for opportunities to engage with your coworkers at work and outside of work. Randi Braun, the Founder of Something Major, gives a few examples: “Is there a group that gets lunch on Fridays or coffee every morning? Ask to join. If you’re working on a project, can you ask other colleagues for their input on what worked well last time? While coworkers will often welcome you into the new organization, your reaching back out to them is an important gesture.”

5. Ask questions.

Also, ask questions and open the door to collaboration. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions about your work and tasks is a great way to build connections with coworkers,” says Certified Life Coach Jamie Bacharach. “Don’t be ashamed if you don’t know something or require clarification—look at moments of uncertainty as an opportunity to build new connections with whoever it is you need to speak with in order to resolve your uncertainty.”

6. Be yourself.

Finally, just be yourself. To develop a true friendship, it’s important that you let someone get to know your true personality. Dr. Nancy Irwin, Clinical Psychologist and Primary Therapist at Seasons in Malibu, gives a few helpful tips for doing so: “Don’t force it. Be yourself and grateful for any help your new coworkers might give you. Don’t try too hard because you may come across as needy. Give it time, and if you click with others, so be it.”

These tips will come in handy when you walk into work on your first day… or, when you walk into work on your 50th day—all depending on when you decide that you can put in a greater effort to befriend your coworkers and improve your happiness at work. We wish you luck!

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is a staff writer at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She is a co-author of Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book and has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

Check out “Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book” written by AJ Centore and Taylor Bennett."

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