Work Friends

Workplace relationships are tricky. Relationships in general can be tricky but if you still go into a workplace 40 hours a week, your coworkers are probably the closest relationship you have in terms of weekly interactions.

Navigating these relationships can be tough, especially when you’re new to a job.

I’ve been at my job for seven months and feel I have an above average relationship with my coworkers (in comparison to previous jobs).

There’s about 20 people in my office, I see some outside of work more than others, some none at all. And one person I connected with right away who I’m moving in with this year.

The strange thing about being here for seven months now is that it’s considered to be a somewhat established tenure. The established employees (in my satellite office) have been around for no more than three years. The company itself has been around for 16 years.

In a 100% commission sales job centered around an industry that 90% of our new hires have no history or knowledge on, I don’t think it’s a huge surprise that there’s a higher-than-normal turnover rate.

And then there’s the matter of terminating people who are not projecting to produce well.

What I’m saying is that a lot of people come in and out of this job. In the last two weeks I’ve seen five people quit or be fired. I came into the job with two others. One of the guys quit on the second day and the other got fired last week.

The point is that it can be difficult to navigate relationships with a new co-worker or as the new employee. As any relationship goes, you spend time with an individual and get to know things about them and find out what you like or don’t like, and things are definitely easy to spot quickly that you don’t like. But it can also be said for finding things you do like.

The tricky thing about workplace relations is that people can have a work personality and an outside of work personality. And maybe you do as well.

The first thing I’d say is the importance of bringing your outside of work personality to work.

Yeah, you might be a bit more reserved, especially in the beginning of your tenure, which I honestly think is very important (speaking for my role and job). You also might, and I think it’s smart, to be a bit more reserved in expressing views on controversial topics. Obviously, you can express your opinion, just have the situational awareness to choose what’s worth it.

But to that first point, I think being yourself in any situation is the best and honestly the only way to create organic relationships with people.

Being yourself helps to naturally find people you’ll get along with.

Maybe someone tends to be more reserved at work, but you act like yourself. Maybe you have the same sense of humor and you’re expressing yours to them which makes them comfortable expressing theirs.

That’s kind of what happened with me and the guy I connected with. He’s even told me that before I started, he was more reserved and didn’t really connect with anyone, but I find that hard to believe with how extroverted he is. Granted we sit right next to each other, but we talked a lot and we’ve always spoken the same at work as we have outside of work.

I’d say my relationship with this guy is a more extreme situation of work relations you’ll find. But I still have great relationships with about five to six others and see them outside of work fairly often.

The second thing I’d say is to prove yourself at a job before finding your social connections.

I don’t mean prove yourself as being the best at your job but prove yourself as someone who’s there for the job you got hired for. Again, I’m speaking from the experience of my specific role. But in any job I’ve had, when someone new comes onboard and they’re more worried about making friends than learning the job, it’s not a good look and can be aggravating to tenured employees.

In my specific role, there’s a group of probably seven or eight guys who have been there for at least a year and kind of secured themselves as not really eligible for the chopping block. They’ve proved themselves. And the interaction of guys like this on our sales floor is fun. It’s understandable to want to be part of the banter.

But to my point, they’ve proved themselves. Having relationships like that in a workplace are earned, in my opinion. And I say that for a few reasons.

First, those guys have been there the longest. They’ve spent the most time with each other and gotten to know each other. Those relationships have been established over time.

Second, they’re all producing for the company. These are mostly all guys who get paid 100% commission and ones that will likely be there, which takes time and work to do. And in turn, I think everyone has mutual respect.

So in order to have relationships like that, at least in my office, you first have an established tenure and prove yourself as a workhorse.

I can personally say the guys who come in and try to be buddy buddy right off the bat while not putting in necessary work to learn and work towards high production are the ones who look bleak from the beginning.

For any job, I think work relations can really heighten your experience. But what I’m saying is to allow them to come naturally, like any relationship.

The difference in the workplace relationship, I think, is the importance of establishing yourself and earning respect among your peers. This will organically generate quality connections and can potentially bridge the gap to a real and genuine friendship.