Starting a new job can be both exciting and scary, especially when you consider how tough it can be to make friends in a new office. On the one hand, it's human nature to want other people to like you. Having good friends at work can make your job more pleasant and even advance your career. On the other hand, office politics can get pretty complicated. You want to stand out amongst your peers and it can be difficult to balance your professional life with your personal life. The good news is that it can be very easy to make friends in a new work environment. You just need to be a friendly, considerate coworker, and you'll be getting invitations to group happy hours in no time.
Always begin work friendships as friendly professional relationships. For example, your first several conversations with other people in your office should be about your job, not about your interest in reality television. Talking about your work in a friendly manner leaves everyone with a good impression, whereas talking about your personal life and preferences will only give people an opportunity to judge you. Besides, you'll begin to establish friendships via the tone of your voice and mannerisms. People will think you are a nice person and begin to warm up to you if you seem happy to ask or answer job related questions.
Taking things slowly at the office gives you two benefits. You'll make a great first impression, and you'll also gain some time to get the lay of the land. Observe relationships between other people in your workplace so that you don't accidentally end up best friends with the guy who always needs someone else to finish his projects or the lady that gossips constantly.
Are you feeling left out because you eat lunch alone at your desk every day? Have you asked your coworkers if you can eat with them? Chances are, your coworkers are not purposefully excluding you from social times. If you haven't already been invited to eat with anyone, it's probably thanks to an oversight rather than a snub. Just take some initiative and ask your coworkers if you can eat at the lunch table with them. If you've noticed that everyone goes to happy hour once per week and you've never been invited, then pick someone who seems nice and ask this person if he'd like to get a beer with you one day after work. Your invitation will probably be reciprocated with an invite to the group happy hour.
You aren't at work to make friends, you're there to work. Making friends at the office is a great idea, but not if making friends comes at the expense of you actually doing your job. Nothing is more annoying than the coworker who is constantly showing up in your cubicle, preventing you from getting your stuff done because he wants to tell you about some cat videos he saw on the internet. Work always comes first; you can socialize on your breaks and at the end of the day.
This should go without saying, but nasty gossip and criticism always make you look worse than the person you are talking about. Someone else's misfortune or poor decisions should never be a source of entertainment for you at work, at least not publicly. Don't mention how many drinks someone had at happy hour, don't let it slip that you saw a couple making out after hours, and don't complain incessantly about your incompetent colleague. If it's possible, just make yourself scarce whenever someone else begins a conversation about anyone's shortcomings or private life. Not only will gossiping make you look bad to the rest of your coworkers and your boss, but it could also damage someone else's career or even make someone feel ostracized from your office. Don't be a bully. If you have a problem with someone, address it constructively directly with him.
You shouldn't gossip about other people and you shouldn't share too much information about your own private life either. Make sure that you have known someone for a long time before you begin sharing details about yourself that you wouldn't want your boss to hear. You should also avoid sharing confidential details about your job with your work friends. For example, don't tell your coworkers how much money you make, and certainly don't tell them anything about changes at the office that aren't public yet.