Today’s workplace is all about knowing your colleagues, having an easy and open work relationship, working hard and enjoying yourself. In a nutshell, socializing at work is the new formula for corporate success. Do you moan and groan about socializing with your colleagues after office hours? Are the eight or so hours you spend in their company enough to deter you from spending any extra time with them? The next time you whine about going to an office party, focus on this interesting fact: Did you know that socializing with colleagues improves productivity, increases self confidence and makes you more successful at work?
A recent study has revealed that 63% of an employee target group felt that making friends at work improves quality, helps in better physical and mental health and increases success rate with customers. However, moderation and discretion is important. Here are some tips to help you socialize at work:
TAKE YOUR TIME
Relationships at work, even social, should be built with care. You are not running a ‘friends-at-work or BFF marathon’. Therefore, don’t be in a hurry to make friends by the dozen. Start off by being pleasant to people. The cardinal rule is to be on good terms with your team and then connect with people in other departments. It does not work the other way! Build your social circle slowly and steadily.
Don’t rush to add colleagues/ co-workers to your social networking profile. Until you are absolutely sure, keep your personal and professional life separate. Your colleagues need not be privy to personal information and pictures on your profile. Think about your professional image before you take this step.
Most of us can communicate to get work done. However, conversations beyond work can sometimes be difficult. Most of us have a common woe: we receive high ratings for our work performance. Unfortunately, we do not socialize with our co-workers outside work. The simple reason may be our introvert nature which prevents us from opening up and mingling with our co workers no matter how hard we try. Oftentimes, our colleagues interpret this introversion as aloofness.
The first thing to remember in this case is, don’t try too hard! If you are shy or are an introvert, you cannot become socially popular in a day. Take baby steps. However, don’t fake it or try to create an image that is not you! In the long run, you will find it difficult keeping up the facade.
Be yourself. You will definitely find some common interests that will connect you with your colleagues. Create opportunities to socialize in ways that you feel comfortable. There are no hard and fast rules.
You need not get along with everyone at work. You will instantly connect with some, while you may take longer or never be able to connect with others. Don’t fret! Take people as they come. If you feel at ease interacting one-on-one, ask a colleague out for a cup of coffee or lunch. You may find that getting to know people individually is relaxing and less stressful. As you open up to the colleagues one by one they will realize your true potential. While you may not end up as the life of a party, people will realize that you a friendly and approachable person.
Co-workers may also become close friends. Since you spend at least 8 hours in a day with colleagues, some of your co-workers become your best buddies, confidants and maybe, agony aunts. However, you will have to draw a line between friendship, work ethics and productivity.
Set expectations at the very beginning. Communicate clearly that while you will be a great friend and fun to be around after work hours, you take work seriously. You should be unbiased, fair and professional. It will be difficult initially. Slowly, others will appreciate your professionalism and efficiency.
Mention workplace socializing and the first thought is people idling over cups of coffee or gossiping busily. In today’s work environment, having the right contacts at work is a big advantage. A badly-timed comment about someone can mar your reputation. Thoughtless or flippant talk will sour your relationships.
APPROACH ROMANCE CONSCIOUSLY
Workplace romance is very common these days. It is a great place to meet interesting people and who knows, you may meet that special someone! While this might sound very romantic, be careful! Your organization may not appreciate such behavior. Also, every company has gossip mongers looking for spicy, interesting titbits. And, you will definitely not want to be “breaking news”. If you are serious about someone at work, work out things clearly. Keep your interactions and relationship at the workplace professional. Meeting frequently for coffee or having lunch with each other at work should be avoided. Not only will you lose focus at work, but it will also become embarrassing if the romance fizzles out.