4 Tips to Befriend Your Coworkers

As you know, I recently started a new job. When leaving JCC Association, I knew that I would probably never again have a team of such epic proportions. I will probably never have a boss who I not only respect as a colleague, but consider to be a close friend. I knew that, more than anything, I would miss my coworker soul-sister, Mackenzie, who had become my confidant and lunch buddy and mutual stress reliever over the course of almost two years.

Starting in a new office, on a team of five and within a department of twenty-five, meant I would have to break in to pre-existing social circles. Unfortunately, I can’t rely on my wicked PHP skills to make friends.

To those who know me well, it might come as a surprise that I didn’t immediately pick up some new friends (who am I kidding, it surprised me the most). I know very well that it can take three months to start to feel comfortable in a new place. I know it took me four months to meet Mackenzie and another two to get the courage to make her be my friend (though she’d say I didn’t “make” her do anything). That being said, I came in wanting people to like me and be my friend. I’m nice! I bake things! Be my friend and I’ll make you awesome cookies!

Ok, maybe this is extreme.

Ok, maybe this is extreme.

I’ve been here for a little over a month, and it’s time for me to take some real initiative to make friends. These tips are as much for readers as they are reminders for myself that friendship is a two-way commitment. I can’t just expect people to invite me to lunch or happy hour.

Tip One: Ask questions

Of course, this starts with your coworkers’ names. If you’re anything like me, you may need reminders of names. But once you’ve got that down, learn about who they are. Your coworkers are more than just their position within the department. Find out about their hobbies, where they went to school, what they were doing before their current position, etc. This is an opportunity to find things in common with your colleagues and to plain and simple listen.

Tip Two: Spread the love

Personally, nothing brightens my day quite like an unexpected compliment. Compliment your coworkers on a piece of clothing or the way they’ve decorated their cubical. Remember to be genuine. If you say that you love that bracelet, actually mean it. Don’t Regina it.

I Love Your Bracelet

Tip Three: Be helpful

Offer help for everything from collaborating on project ideas, taking on projects that seem to be dejected by your colleagues, or even just giving advice on where to go for brunch. When someone approaches you and asks for help, do whatever you can (within the confines of your position and the law, of course) to help. Better yet, help with a smile. You’ll become the person who is known as friendly and eventually, people will come to you with more than just work help requests.

Tip Four: Invite them out

At the end of the day, you have to be the one to take initiative. Even after you’ve learned all about the person, spread the love, and were super helpful, you may still be the one who has to offer the invitation. Plan in advance, and invite them for a future date. Be open to scheduling something in the future and be conscious of their work schedule. If your colleague is staying late every night working on something, perhaps offer to schedule for a future date.

That being said, if you get a clipped decline instead of reception to rescheduling in the future, respond warmly but without attempt to change their mind. It may be a sign to let them come to you in the future instead of forcing something that may not be meant to be.

Nothing wrong with alone time.

Nothing wrong with alone time.

At the end of the day, you still may not end up becoming friends with your coworkers. It may never go beyond friendly hellos and head nods. You are at work to focus on, well, getting work done (getting that paycheck, advancing that career). Remind yourself that you tried your hardest, but sometimes it just isn’t meant to be.

Don’t give up all hope. Remember, if you’re awesome, eventually people will come your way.

Alexandra WhiteAlexandra is a WordPress & front-end developer who builds awesome things. She loves craft beer, apple cider cookies, and traveling to new places (especially when the trip is free). You should follow her on twitter and maybe you can become internet friends. Or maybe even IRL friends.

Goodness of Strangers

Yesterday after work I did something weird. Well, maybe not weird, but at least unusual. I went to a stranger’s house with my best friend and took her furniture, artwork, rugs, curtains, kitchen utensils, and other odds and ends and then I left.

Before you jump to conclusions, I’m not admitting to burglary here. I went there invited.

This woman is moving to California on Sunday. In just her car (just one car!). And instead of trying to sell her the things she can’t bring with her, she decided to give her things away to friends (or friends of friends in my case) and then donate what’s left to Goodwill.

moving truck

Actual truck not pictured.

I don’t know this woman at all, and I’ll probably never see her again. But now I’ve got a (pretty nice) southwestern style area rug to remember her by. The kind stranger that decided to do something nice before she left town for good.

While it is holiday season, I don’t think this outpouring of kindness had anything to do with Christmas. This woman is simply a genuinely nice person.

My best friend just moved into an apartment without any furniture to her name. Since signing the lease she’s been offered couches, bedroom sets, coffee tables, kitchenware, and so much more. Last night when we went to go pick some of it up, it struck me how there are still nice people in this world. How everything isn’t always doom and gloom. And how nice it is to end my year on such a sweet notion.

Chelsea currently works as a copywriter at a software company. She is a syntax enthusiast and always enjoys a good dinner party.

My Love Letter to Podcasts

I began listening to podcasts religiously back in the Spring of 2011. One lost (and recovered) iPod and USB cord later, I’ve started to listen to them again with vigor this summer and decided I needed to express my adoration in the most fitting way possible: a blog post love letter.

I know things now. Not because I read a newspaper, but because I listen to podcasts.

Dearest Podcasts,

It’s tough being a member of VALCANA (Note: I use a #1stworldproblems scale. Please convert accordingly). VALCAN are six intelligent, beautiful and trendy young women. V sends hilarious YouTube videos BY ACCIDENT. A (Alexandra) just had the luckiest year of her life (so far) and lives in hipster Mecca. L has moments of psychic brilliance (we’re going to need to become a little bit more comfortable with each other before I divulge that story, Interwebs). C introduced me to an entire section of our college town that I didn’t even know existed. A (Allegra) used an incredibly similar domain name and blog idea way, way before it ever popped into my head. And N introduced me to every amazing restaurant I ate at for seven consecutive months.

As you can tell, it’s a struggle to come up with anything worthy to contribute to this group of awesome ladies. But then I discovered you, podcasts, and I was like the cool parent – status elevated, but not even in the same league.

I understood references and contributed culturally relevant information to the group. I had gained all of this great, on trend popular culture knowledge and could apply it.

When C mentioned going to a screening of an indie flick while she lived in NYC, I actually knew which film she was talking about because I heard the filmmaker on the Moth podcast a week prior. When L mentioned that the Hobbit was filmed at a speed of 48 frames per second, I knew exactly what the controversy was all about after listening to the discussion on the Pop Culture Happy Hour (PCHH). I now drop Carl Kasell references LIKE A BOSS, even if no one understands them. That’s just how trendy you’ve made me, podcasts.

I listen to you all the time now. I have over one hundred episodes waiting for me to listen to during my walk to and from work, while I write and design a technical document, or as I clean the apartment. They overwhelm me almost as much the Sunday New York Times and my feedly, which using the #1stworldproblems conversion scale is like getting a tooth ache because you ate ice cream and birthday cake.

I analyze intelligent debate about why Justice Scalia has his panties in a twist while I fold my laundry. I learn about the Irish mystery novel scene while I think about how Elmore Leonard does it. I blush a few shades of red when the screenwriters panel starts using NSFW language.

You’ve made me more culturally astute, allowing me to understand the cultural references dropped during a typical VALCANA Google Hangout, but have also given me a greater sense of belonging that extends beyond my friends. You’ve created a community where I can let my mind escape to being in the room with the panelists and then head over to the accompanied Facebook Page after to engage.

After moving to a new city where I know few (and socialize with less) people, it’s comforting to turn on my iPod and hear a group of friend-colleagues talk about the latest superhero movie. It’s like I’ve gathered my friends from all across the country into the TARDIS and we’ve landed back in time to my dorm room, where we talked about pop culture like academics – minus all those timey-wimey considerations. It’s those reminiscent moments when it seemed like everything everyone said was so, so smart. That our conversations were going to permeate the old brick and mortars and change the world.

Sure, some may argue this is just a manifestation of my NPR Nerdery since 60% of the podcasts I subscribe to are affiliated with public media. But, podcasts, you’re so much more to me.

When I pull up Answer Me This! or PCHH on my iPod, a smile creeps across my face and I just feel happy. The later podcast may be in reference to a figurative happy hour, but those 47ish minutes it lets my brain wander away from the doom and gloom of responsibilities and money and “the future,” is my happy hour when I can think back to that dorm room where I was going to write the Next Great American Novel, be internet famous, take down the patriarchy, reenact the Hillary Clinton-Meryl Streep BFF photo with Allegra, and live in a world where our conversations did change the world.

Thanks for that, podcasts.



Do you love podcasts too? Looking for something new to listen to? Here are my recommendations (Please note some of them contain explicit language and/or content)! Please let me know which podcasts you love in the comments section.

Ashley HaglundAshley works in corporate, health care and non-profit communications. She loves starting new writing projects; is a media junkie; enjoys studying science, technology and patent law issues; and has a love/hate relationship with semi-colons. To see her face and be her internet friend, follow her on twitter.