Making friends gets harder as you get older. Especially if you’re an introvert and don’t just “collect” friends like some extroverts are able to do. Once you’ve finished school and university where connections are more naturally formed, you end up with one question on your mind: How to make friends at work as an introvert?
I’ve written an article about making new friends as an adult introvert before. However, this one is going to be focused on making friends at your workplace. After all, those of us who work at an office spend most of their time there!
Offer to help someone
The easiest way to make friends at work as an introvert is to engage in a chat that goes beyond small talk. But how do you do that?
Well, as introverts, we tend to shine when we know our topic. And when we’ve spent a bit of time at our job, we usually know what we’re doing. So, there is nothing easier than offering help to someone!
Whether you see that a co-worker has too much to do, or you have a new person in your team who doesn’t yet know everything: ask them if they need help.
Sure, this does mean that you might need to work more than you have to. But in terms of making friends, there is no better base for bonding than doing someone a favour.
I personally can never resist helping someone out (too much sometimes), so it’s no surprise that I always made friends with newer colleagues rather than those who were there before me.
Seek one-on-one conversations
If working more is not your thing, or you simply don’t work in a team, there are other ways to seek one-on-one conversations and make friends at work as an introvert.
As I explained in my article “Secret struggles of an introvert and how to solve them”, introverts tend to make connections less easily than extroverts. Especially in large groups.
If you try to make friends while going out to lunch with your whole team, you might get discouraged. It’s harder to participate in chats with so many people. And you might feel weird just talking to the person next to you, too.
So, I suggest joining someone who’s alone. A person who goes out by themselves to get lunch, for instance. Maybe they’re an introvert, too, and just need some time away from too many people?
I used to be that person at my last workplace. It consisted mostly of extroverts, which just got way too much over the course of the day. But when a fellow introvert joined the team, she and I started to get lunch together.
You could also volunteer to welcome a new colleague. They don’t know anyone yet and will probably be happy if you just go talk to them.
At my first workplace, every new team member was assigned a “godfather” or “godmother” to introduce them to their new job. It wasn’t easy. But I did make friends with my “goddaughter”. And we continue talking even now!
Not every large group is equal
It’s always harder to become part of a group than to make friends with one person. But you don’t have to dismiss groups altogether to make friends at work as an introvert.
At my last workplace, there were just too many extroverts. Whenever they all came together, they talked so much, discussed anything and everything. My brain got overstimulated just by listening. And for that reason, I almost never said a word.
If you encounter the same type of group at your workplace, don’t force yourself to join it. Sure, sometimes you’ll have to. For team outings, special occasions… But you don’t have to have lunch with them every day.
In my experience, forcing yourself just makes you uncomfortable. In that situation, but also just being around all these people. You start worrying about seeming weird, try to say something but can’t think of anything… It’s not fun.
Instead, focus on talking to the same people when they’re alone, or in smaller groups. It’s a way better method to make friends at work as an introvert!
Sometimes, however, a group can be okay. At my first job, there were tons of other introverts. As a result, conversations looked less like small talk and were easier to join for me. After only a couple of months, I felt completely at ease having lunch with 10 people. And I even kept in contact with most of them when I left the company!
Work on a project with someone
Remember how much easier it was to make friends in school or university? That’s probably because you always had something in common to talk about.
Recreating a similar context in your job can truly help you make friends at work as an introvert.
For me, this means working on a project with someone. You can’t really not bond when you spend that much time together! All you have to do is sneak in a couple of more personal questions here and there.
At one job, I was working from France but on a German website. I travelled to Germany a lot during that time, and I loved spending time with the 2-person team there. There’s something about working together for a whole day that just created a good base for a friendship.
However, I understand that not everyone has the opportunity to work on these types of projects. But don’t worry, just use on of the other tips in this article!
Attend an office party
An office party? Didn’t you just say to avoid large groups? you might think. But hear me out.
There is something completely different about an office party compared to a work lunch. For one, it’s usually outside of your worktime. Sometimes also outside of your workplace.
And… people tend to drink. At least in my experience.
Believe me, it’s so much easier to make friends with happy, drunk people than stressed out, serious people!
And you can have one or two drinks, too. To calm down the part of your brain that feels weird at parties, you know. Just don’t ever drink too much!
I haven’t exactly made friends at office parties before. But I did get closer to my co-workers. And we developed inside jokes, like that one time we saw our drunk boss and a male colleague leaving an empty, dark room and giggling…
Attending an office party can help you make friends at work as an introvert. Just don’t force yourself to stay too long.
Don’t let your frustration out on other people
Okay, okay, you can’t make friends by just not yelling at people. But it’s a great way to preserve good relationships at work.
Think about it: would you want to be friends with someone who is usually super nice, but randomly explodes at you once in a while? I wouldn’t. In fact, I haven’t.
There were two people at my last job who liked to let their frustration out on others. One was my boss. It sucked, but you’re rarely friends with your boss anyway, right?
Another one was my co-worker. A super nice girl whom I enjoyed hanging out with at the beginning. Until one day, she was so stressed that she yelled at me for asking a simple question. To her, nothing changed after that. To me, it did. I quickly learned not to approach her when she was stressed.
Sometimes, another co-worker (the introvert who joined me for lunch) and I had to elaborate entire strategies to get what we needed from her without getting into a conflict. Not easy!
And even though she was still super nice 95% of the time, these episodes ruined any desire to develop a friendship.
Don’t be like that girl. It’s okay to get stressed, or frustrated, and you have every right to express that. But don’t be mean to people, even if they annoy you right at that moment. Otherwise, you might struggle to make friends at work as an introvert. Or extrovert, for that matter.
Accept when it’s just not the right crowd (and look into why that is)
In some situations, you just won’t make friends at work as an introvert. No matter how hard you try.
You’ll probably get along fine with people. Even meet up with them once in a while. But you might not feel like they’re really your friends.
How can that happen, you ask?
Well, some people, no matter how nice they are, have nothing in common with you. You struggle to find topics to talk about, no matter how well you know them. Conversations get stuck and spiral back into small talk. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
Just like it’s possible to meet someone and hit it off right away, it’s also possible to know someone and never hit it off.
At my last workplace, almost every single person I got along with got fired or left. The guy who got there two months before me and was so easy to talk to. The introvert I had lunch with every day. The only other guy they ever recruited. The girl I went shopping with during lunch break.
Obviously, my type of people didn’t fit into that business. And neither did I.
If you encounter the same type of problem in your workplace, it might be something to think about. What do people you get along with
Of course, you don’t have to change jobs just to increase your chance of making friends at work as an introvert. But it’s definitely something to keep in mind.
Now, let me know how you make friends at work as an introvert! Do you have any tips to share?
And please share this post with fellow introverts if you found it helpful!