Regardless of your job, there are always going to be difficult days. It’s on these tough days that you need to be able to lean on your coworkers, preferably those who are friends. Sometimes that’s the only way to stay sane. But that requires you to make friends with your coworkers.
What if that’s not easy for you? What if you’re an introvert?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’re going to give you the 10 principles of building strong, lasting relationships with your coworkers.
How to win friends
While making friends at the office comes easily to some people, others struggle. So, how can you develop positive relationships with your co-workers?
In 1936, Dale Carnegie published what has become one of the most influential self-help books of all time, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. Since then, the book has become required reading for anyone looking to make it in the world of business.
There are 27 other principles in Carnegie’s book. One thing we learn from it is “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”
But what does this mean in the office environment, which has its own set of rules, not to mention politics?
In this article we’ll discuss some of the best principles you can apply to win friends in your workplace. Hopefully, these will give you the kickstart you need to make your life at work better.
1. Pay Attention To Your Coworkers
Sharing personal stories about yourself can be a good way to start up a conversation and connect with your coworkers. However, you also have to be genuinely interested in them as well.
In Dale Carnegie’s timeless book, he wrote, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
By remembering a person’s name and expressing genuine interest in someone’s qualities, background, stories, hobbies, career, family, or anything else closely connected to that person, you will give them a gift— a sense of importance, well being, and value. It will make people believe you like them, so they in turn like you.
When you’re in conversations with people in your office, give the other person the spotlight. Avoid getting into social situations just to talk about yourself. To influence people, give others the moment to shine and allow them to talk about themselves.
When we give the other person the attention they deserve, it allows us to become more interested in them. Give them consistent eye contact, and maintain open body language. Listen closely to what they are saying and ask relevant questions based on what they said.
The more interest and attention you give to someone else, the more willing they are to listen to you talk about yourself. Oftentimes, when you give someone your full attention, they stop talking about themselves and ask, “What about you? What’s your story?”
2. Use Team Language
Language has a lot of subtlety that can help us consciously create very different results, especially when influencing people. The words we use can help us win or lose friends. So how can you use language to engage with your coworkers and create new possibilities?
You can start by letting another person think that your idea is his or her’s as well. This may seem antithetical to getting ahead in the workplace, but it’s actually a key to success. If you want your ideas implemented, the best way to do it is to have people think that they thought it up as well.
When you use “we” and “us” in discussions about everything from projects to get-togethers after work, you’ll make everyone feel included and you’ll build a sense of loyalty.
When you set everyone on the same level through inclusive language, you give them a small measure of power. And when people feel they have power, they’re more likely to help when you need a favor in return.
Is there really an advantage to letting your peers think they thought up your fabulous ideas as well? Yes! At the end of the day, remember that this is about making friends and influencing people at work.
It’s winning all around—you get everything accomplished that you wanted to (influence people) while having everyone else love you (winning friends).
3. Practice Good Office Etiquette
There are certain expectations of how an employee, a manager or a businessperson is supposed to act in a professional environment.
If you practice good office etiquette, you’re perceived as someone who knows what you’re talking about. However, if you don’t, you may be repelled by people in your workplace. In turn, you’re losing your chance to make friends.
One of the aspects of good office etiquette is treating everyone in an office with respect, regardless of their position; and knowing when to say something and when to keep the information you have to yourself (religion, politics, personal relationships). It all comes down to respect, kindness, and good manners after all.
Furthermore, little things like always showing up to meetings prepared and on time can create a great impact. Always be considerate of those in the office if you sometimes work from home. Make sure that your absence doesn’t mean your co-workers end up fielding your phone calls and doing the work you should have done in the office.
All in all, when you practice good office etiquette, you influence people and your coworkers will feel comfortable around you. It also reflects well on you as a professional and can help propel you to success in your career.
When you consistently get positive reactions from your coworkers when you practice good office etiquette, it starts to influence them and you are more likely to attract people to be your friends.
4. Be Someone You’d Want To Be Friends With
One of the keys, if not the most important one, to building successful relationships in your workplace is to be a good workmate.
Ask yourself now: “Would I want to hang out with me right now?” If the answer is no, chances are that your co-workers are feeling the same way. And it’s time for you to improve what has to improve.
Remember that you don’t have to be perfectly charming and gorgeous to win friends or influence people, you just have to become someone people want to talk to. Let’s go back to no. 1– be genuinely interested in other people. It will enrich your life and open so many doors than you never thought possible.
At the end of the day, people remember kindness. People do not discuss much about your talent, where you went to college, or your past achievements but people will more likely judge you based on your attitude towards them.
A good resume may get you in the door, but charm, personality, and social skills will make you win their friendship and influence them. People will normally pick someone they enjoy being around over someone who has an awful attitude and a toxic personality.
5. Take Initiative
Once your co-workers have gotten to know you in the office, even if only for a few seconds, don’t be afraid to kick your relationships up a notch.
You need to take the initiative to connect more. Call them, add them on Facebook, or invite them to grab a drink or coffee with you. It’s just like dating. If you don’t take the initiative, nothing will ever happen.
Start on your common ground– talk about some topics that are interesting to you and to them. Think about things that will catch their full attention. Whether it’s something about a TV series, a song, or a trend.
Think about some fun things you could do to cultivate the friendship. You need to take another step in order to move the friendship forward and influence people.
But, how would you really know that? The key to striking up a conversation with anyone is to ask them open-ended questions about themselves. Ask your officemate where she got her fabulous skirt, how she spent her weekend, or where the photo on her desk was taken.
Be sincerely interested in her hobbies and family life, and try to remember a few details for future conversations. By taking initiative on asking these questions, it will pave a way for you to know them even better and create a more meaningful relationship.
6. Stay Authentic
Creating a facade of who you want to be instead of who you actually are will likely push people away. Staying true to yourself is an admirable quality adored by many.
You might find it uncomfortable at first to show your authentic self. But in the long run, it will create a more meaningful connection with people that can turn to friendship.
Being yourself is always worth it as long as you are not hurting anyone with your character. It’s true that appearances have an effect on first impressions. But when it comes to making new friends, your behavior will help you keep them.
Being yourself means to simply open-up more. Start telling people what you think about a certain topic, tell a funny experience, or share something more personal. In this way, people will start to get more interested!
However, never tell stories that are far from the truth only for the sake of impressing them, because sooner or later, the truth will reveal itself.
You will always find colleagues that will not like you no matter how hard you try. Being authentic does not mean making enemies in the office, rather, it’s about focusing on people that you share a common denominator with.
7. Be Generous With Praise
When people take the time to offer you a sincere compliment, how does that make you feel about them? Are you naturally drawn to people who speak positively of you? When you offer people a genuine compliment, your interest in them can have an impact far bigger than you know.
One of the strongest needs we as humans have is the need to feel appreciated. It could be said that the greatest achievements mankind has ever made were all in an effort to seek praise and approval; in other words, to be appreciated.
When you genuinely praise others, you lift their spirits, enhance their self-confidence and add fuel to their motivational fire. Perhaps more than anything, you give them something good to think about themselves.
But why do we do this? This makes us practice our empathic skills and create a deeper connection. If simple words of praise can do so much to enhance someone’s life, why don’t we give more of it?
This will be a hard practice in the first couple of days, genuine compliments don’t come easily if we don’t put practice towards it. Get gradually better every day. And eventually, you will influence people and get the results you want.
8. Be A Good Listener
One of the biggest ways we can show interest in someone is by attentively listening to them speak. People love to talk, and they love to talk about themselves. So if you are a person who they know takes interest and likes to hear about their favorite topic they will like you in return.
However, there is a difference between simply listening to people and listening with deep interest. Listening with interest signifies that you really care about what they are saying, in contrast to simply listening because it is the polite thing to do.
You can start by asking real-life questions and letting them vent their important feelings. While they talk, maintain eye contact and show that you’re interested in what they have to say. Resist the urge to give unsolicited advice, and just let them get it out.
Acknowledge their successes, listen to their stories, and show compassion when things go bad. If you actively listen, you’ll find out what makes your coworkers happy and what keeps them awake at night.
9. Admit When You Are Wrong
Carnegie says in his book “The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.” This is true especially in the office environment where every set of eyes are on you.
Admission of error in the work is oftentimes perceived as a sign of weakness. But what happens when you look at it the other way around?
Once you stand up and admit fault, you might find your team backing you up and perceiving you as someone who takes responsibility for their actions, especially mistakes. We all make mistakes, and the key to influence people is to fess up, apologize sincerely, and figure out what you’ve learned from it.
On the other side, denying even one mistake, regardless of how detectable it may be to others, is the first step down a slippery slope that will irreparably damage your reputation and any chance you have of being that person worth following.
Nothing will make people less defensive and more agreeable than you being humble and reasonable enough to admit your own mistakes. It’s imperative in the office to take responsibility for your mistakes, especially if your entire team is taking heat. Nothing will help end tension or a disagreement more than a swift acknowledgment and apology on your part.
10. Always Have A Smile
Whether you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, picked a fight with a loved one, or struggled through that morning commute to your workplace, it can be a tough task to plaster a smile across your face when you’re feeling less than spritely.
However, when you learn the act of smiling more often, you’ll realize that you are attracting more people to talk to you, approach you, or be friends with you. This is because of emotional contagion– people often mimic the faces of people they see.
The act of smiling can elevate your mood and the mood of those around you. It’s also one reason that people are attracted to happy people — they catch that happiness themselves.
Studies show that a single glance of a person’s face for just 33 to 100 ms was sufficient to form a first impression. Thus, before a person ever meets you, they already have judged you.
When you smile at someone, you are communicating to them that you like them, and you are happy to see them. This, in turn, makes the other person instantly like you as well.
Getting people to like you seems like a subjective process, but there are universal techniques you can use to help you make friends more easily.
Praising people, smiling, knowing people’s names, making an effort to know their interests and chat about them make people feel important. That is the underlying point of the above principles. If you make people feel important, how you walk through the world will be a more pleasant and incredible experience.
However, every working environment is unique. If things aren’t working out, and you’re really struggling to make a friend, take a step back. There are plenty of valid reasons you haven’t developed those strong relationships yet. You’ll figure everything out one way or the other.
At the end of the day, winning people over is sometimes done through time, not effort.
Follow these 10 principles and you will be well on your way to being much more likable and in no time you’ll win friends and influence people!
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