As a young twenty-something, there’s a pretty good chance you’re probably one of the youngest people in your office. With that title, chances are also pretty good that you will find that many of your coworkers are older, more established, and at different life stages than you are.
At first glance, it might not seem like you have much in common with them. But if you take a closer look, you’ll find that you do share a lot more similarities with them than you expected, and you may just find yourself forming unlikely friendships with those very coworkers.
Need help getting started? Here are a few pieces of advice from someone who has been there:
Tip #1: Use your lunch break as a “no work” zone.
You have the entire day to talk about work-related matters, so take advantage of your lunch break as the hour or half hour where you set that aside and get to know your coworkers on a more personal level.
Tip#2: Pay attention to the conversation.
Don’t sit there on your phone, passively making small talk. Actively listen to what they did over the weekend, who they spent time with, and what activities they participated in. Take mental notes of the names they mention, and make a point to ask about their family members and friends the next time you sit down for lunch.
They’ll appreciate that you remember the important details in their life, and reciprocate when it’s your time to talk.
Tip #3: Find commonalities with your coworkers.
As with all friendships and relationships, the more you talk to your coworkers, the more commonalities you’ll uncover. Use that as an opportunity to form those office friendships.
Maybe you share an interest in the same sports teams, or fitness classes, so invite them to that yoga class you go to after work! Maybe you’re watching the same shows on Netflix, or listen to the same kind of music, so recommend a title they should check out! They’ll appreciate the feeling of inclusion.
Tip #4: Don’t be a wallflower at happy hours or holiday parties.
Again, it may be tempting to sit around on your phone, texting your friends and wishing you were actually out with them instead. But happy hours and holiday parties can be the best places to learn about your coworkers, because these events are where people let down their guard the most!
Just being away from the office and having the chance to unwind and have some drinks can do wonders for office friendships. They might not want to talk about their personal life in their office where they want to get work done, or the break room where people could overhear. Those conversations call for a more intimate setting, and happy hours and holiday parties can be the perfect place for that.
Tip #5: Don’t be an office gossip.
This one’s probably the most important. You will not form very many friendships with your coworkers if they see you as the office gossip. Respect their privacy — confiding an important secret in you doesn’t make it your news to tell!
Those are just a few tips for forming seemingly unlikely friendships with your coworkers. Remember, no matter what stage of their life or career they are in, you’re bound to have at least one thing in common with each of your coworkers!
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Tell us, what has been your experience with forming friendships with your coworkers? Has it felt easy, or have you had to work at it a little?