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Why Work Friends Make Work Work

While it’s quite common to maintain that you’re not necessarily at work to make friends and you are primarily employed to perform your role, quite often the difference between staying and being happy at your job directly correlates to the people you share your day with and the culture of the workplace.

Whether it is an intention or a bonus, positive relationships with your colleagues is one of the keys to enjoying your work and getting the most out of yourself. Culture is the responsibility of everyone involved in the business – from the CEO, down to the temp staff member who is there for a week, and everyone in between. You don’t necessarily have to spend holidays with your colleagues and know each other’s middle names, but it is true that friendly interactions at work will inevitably result in a more positive work week.

Work Friends Make Us Better People

Diversity

If you’re employed by a large organisation, chances are you’re lucky enough to work alongside people from different backgrounds ethnicities, religious beliefs, ages, genders, sexualities, physical capabilities and more. At Clicks, our workplace is a beautiful tapestry; half of us were born outside of Australia, and 22% of our staff are aged 45 and over. This means that our offices are filled with a variety of different opinions, perspectives and experiences. Being able to embrace the differing views and collaborate with people who, for one reason or another, are very different to you is key to growth, innovation and informed decision-making in the workplace.

Honesty

A healthy working relationship is an honest one. You and your colleagues should be able to exchange feedback in a truthful way without fearing a negative response. This builds mutual respect and trust, which permeates through your future interactions and helps foster a productive, professional rapport. Additionally, if you are a leader, it is important for you to encourage honesty in the workplace, both as a benefit to your business and to your employees.

Respect

A positive relationship is not possible without respecting the identity and importance of each of your colleagues. Everybody, regardless of their position, makes their own unique contribution to the organisation. Eliminating a sense of superiority based on job title is crucial when establishing a connection at work.

Fun

Work does not have to be a grind. When you’re spending around a third of your waking hours per week at work, you should make your interactions enjoyable. If you can’t have the occasional laugh at work, you’re in the wrong job. Or, you’re just not trying hard enough to have positive interactions with your co-workers.

We Know Why, But How?

Mutual Interests

You are likely to share at least one common interest with every co-worker you come across. Sport is a great conversation starter. You might not support the same teams, but chatting about the weekend’s football games is an easy one. Just make sure you keep team rivalry friendly.

Show Interest

When you ask a co-worker “How was your weekend?” you might just get a “Good thanks,” in return. This short response may be because the person you’re asking doesn’t think that you actually care how their weekend was. Or because the question only elicits a short answer. Find a question that might get a more suitable response, like, “Get up to anything exciting on the weekend?” or “What was a weekend highlight?” and you might get a meatier reply.

Show Appreciation

Recognition is a key motivator for many people when it comes to their professional life. A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way if a colleague does you a favour. Why stop there, though? If someone goes above and beyond to help you out when you’re in need, don’t be afraid to send around a group email letting your colleagues know how much you appreciate that person’s hard work. An action like this requires maybe 30 seconds of your time, and the boost to that person’s morale could be substantial.

Be Upbeat

This is a big one. People want to surround themselves with positivity, especially when they’re at work. If there’s a coworker who’s cursing at their desk, complaining about a colleague, driving a wedge between the team, or visibly not having a good time, chances are that people aren’t going to line up to come and say hi, or ask for their input or just enjoy being around them.

Lunch or Coffee

Sometimes, simply going for lunch or coffee with a co-worker is all you need to start getting along. It’s easier to let your guard down and speak more casually outside of the office setting. Sharing a lunch time, offering a chip, talking about mutual interests (see above) can soften the workplace pressures that deadlines and KPIs can have you locked into.

Friday Night Drinks

Or tipsy Tuesdays, or wonky Wednesdays – you get the drift. Alcohol isn’t for everyone and won’t make you friends, but if shaking off the day with an out-of-hours social bev is your thing, invite a workmate with you. It doesn’t even have to include drinking. Getting out of the office with your co-workers and seeing them in a more relaxed environment could be what you need to form a more positive relationship. People are more inclined to let their guard down in social situations, allowing you to have conversations that you wouldn’t otherwise have at work, thus helping you to build trust in each other.

These are just a few of the many strategies you can employ. Remember, culture starts with you. It is impacted by any interaction you have with any colleague on any given day. You may not want to make friends in the office or onsite—and that’s okay—but start making your interactions more positive and you’ll find yourself much happier at work.

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