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3 ways to become friends with your colleagues

Last week, we talked why it makes sense to become friends with your colleagues. This week, we are focused on how to become friends with your colleagues. Although these ideas may be completely obvious for most of you, one of the reasons I started writing this blog was to provide practical ways we can work better together. I want us to be willing to talk about the “how” rather than assuming everyone knows it!

While there could probably be a list of 300, here are 3 ways you can become friends with your colleagues. These can be tailored to you based on your personality, preferences and work situation.

  1. Schedule time.  Go to lunch. Go to coffee/tea or ice cream. Participate in a group dinner during a conference. One of the best things you can do to develop friendships is to spend time outside the normal work setting to get to know your colleagues – and it often works well when food is involved! One of my favorite memories of developing friendships came more than 15 years ago when I was at a conference with several new colleagues. It was the first time I had attended a professional conference. Although the primary purpose was to attend sessions and learn great content, in the evenings, we would go to dinner together and have great conversations.  We developed friendships that included the reason we were attending the conference as well as those that extended beyond the work we were doing together.  Those friendships developed at that meeting have continued and we have been able to accomplish lots of great work together since that time!
  2. Ask questions. When you have an opportunity to spend time with your colleagues, take some time to ask questions (that you really want the answer to) and listen to their responses.  You may ask about their favorite hobby, vacation destination, hometown, sports team, latest book they have read or even about their family.  If you would like some specific ideas, click here for a website completely focused on conversation ideas.
  3. Share something. When you ask questions and start conversations, there will be opportunities (at least most of the time….) for you to also respond to questions. Be willing to share something about yourself too!  When you ask questions and get to know the other person, you will often find common connections that can help form the basis of a friendship.  I recently participated in a very interesting “icebreaker” the other day that gives a good example of how to do this.  The leader shared a story with the group (90 seconds) and asked for someone to pick up at least one common element from that story and provide her own 90 second story. This continued until everyone in the group had responded and we discovered that one of our most common connections was having a history of speeding tickets. 🙂  Since we were each willing to share something, we provided an opportunity for others to get to know and trust us – and to develop a friendship.

So what about you?  What are some other ideas on how you have developed friendships with your colleagues?

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