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Friendships at work

Business and Professional Relationships Networking and maintaining a positive environment in the work place is important! Surviving the 9-to-5 within.

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Old 15th November 2017, 8:56 AM   #1
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Friendships at work

*This could perhaps be moved to the Friendships section.*

For the past 9 years I've contracted at places typically each for 2 years, at about 5 different large companies. Whilst I've made friends at all of the places to varying degrees, I've come to realise I haven't made or maintained good enough friendships at work. To a degree it's normal to drift and only retain some closer friendships of course. Although valid to varying degrees I've realised I've exaggerated some contributors as to why, instead of how I could make inroads to turn it around. These inc;

-Telling myself I'll only be there a year or 2 so it's okay if I only have a couple of reasonably close friends at 'this' workplace.
-Departments I'm in tend to be either male and 40-50, or female. Rarely single and in their 30's like me.
-Departments where there are more men my age and a similarish lifestyles usually sit on another floor or far enough away it's not easy to engage in day to say interaction whilst at the desk.

-I have a great social anxiety about approaching area's where you are solely on display and audible to several people (at work and at times out of work). At work itís pronounced as Iím trying to balance professionalism with friendliness, some banter, and itís typically a quiet area with 8 or so onlookers hearing every word. Knowing me and my immediate colleagues talk about others around us positively and negatively, I worry what this set of people will say of me once Iíve left. Knowing this it then doubles down my anxiety and avoidance of initiating interaction. I'm fairly sure some then progressively come to think I'm boring as I don't get involved. As a result they steadily won't be as interested or likely to involve, invite me to things. 2 days a week Iím only surrounded by 2/3 colleagues and work friends and others work from home those days. This contributes, and where I used to be able to sit somewhere a little more sociable the odd day Ė thatís no longer as possible.

-When at work socials, sometimes work organised, very occasionally separate informal drinks, I take on the opportunity of organised social interaction and have often over played or tried too hard. Alcohol being an inhibitor a couple of times I think Iíve become a bit too brash and going from the usual distance quieter persona to this..I think as a result some then think the real me can be quite arrogant. This isnít really true, whilst Iím making a more conscious effort to watch what I say I am mostly trying to make up for otherwise not interacting as much, but the two opposites combined perhaps does as much harm as good.

-I dated a girl at this job for about 5 months on/off which although easier now as I only see her every few weeks, haunted me at work for most of the early-mid part of this year. It still does knowing at any time I can be faced with that reminder of something even a step further than social rejection, but a relationship rejection. I just saw her today in a canteen queue and I immediately felt my heart race with awkwardness as I could feel her watching me, and how I was interacting. I was cool, smiled loosely at her as did she, I was jovial with my friends. But I simply hate the thought and occasional reality Ė of bumping into a reminder of one of the worst break ups Iíve had. It pushes me further into my shell at work. Furthermore for the 2 years Iíve been at this workplace, only a couple of our friends came to know about us dating, one of my friends because we knew he liked her. The lack of work colleagues/friends knowing the situation doesnít help and I can only really share any of it with one trust worthy close work friend Ė who totally gets it and is supportive.

Now altogether these things get overplayed in my mind I'm sure. I have days I can interact okay but on the whole I'm struggling to move past the habitual ways I interact with people at work, and improving the first or settled on impressions people have of me. I just can't shake of the thought that these people to varying degrees, some not at all, some a little, are not as interested in interacting with me. Especially when they have their own clique of friends - which is very difficult to break into. When a certain amount of time has passed Ė it seems a higher mountain than ever to climb as everyone seems to find their social norms at work which sticks.

Iíd be grateful for peoples perspectives, stories, advice, tips.

Last edited by BryanSmiley; 15th November 2017 at 9:04 AM..
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Old 15th November 2017, 3:38 PM   #2
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I have some wonderful friends at work, and when they are there it truly makes the teachers lounge at lunchtime a sanctuary. I miss when one or both of them is not there! (both women, both older than me.)

On the other hand, there are some teachers who I can't stand. They gripe about kids, calling them little s***'s, etc. and I can understand they want to vent over lunchtime, but I don't want to listen to it. It's either hit or miss. Either it's my girlfriends and I, and we have a nice lunch with supportive conversation, or the witchy gossipy crowd.
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Old 15th November 2017, 11:38 PM   #3
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A lot of my closest friends I've met at the workplace. Most (if not all) of them started just from making small talk daily (e.g. Hey, how was your weekend?), asking more detailed questions as we got to know each other (e.g. How did your father-in-law's surgery go?), and eventually exchanging phone numbers and social media, going out to lunch during work, then doing things together outside of work.

Some easy ways to appear friendly:

* Tell whoever you want to be friends with that you're running out to Starbucks (or the sandwich shop or McDonalds, etc.) real quick and ask them if they want anything.

* Talk about your interests and if you find out you have any common interests with someone, suggest getting together. (One day I was bored and was telling a coworker that I was looking for a new exercise class. He told me he's passed a fitness center nearby and has always wanted to check it out. And that's how we started doing crossfit together. With another coworker I found out he frequents a bar near me. I told him to tell me the next time he was there. And that's how we became drinking buddies.)

And remember, just like with any relationship, you need to tend to it. Check in with friends you don't see often. Send a text. Like their facebook status. Ask to hang out.
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