It’s officially the party season and many of us will have Christmas nights out with work colleagues over the next couple of weeks.
Whilst most of us are excited about forthcoming festivities and can’t wait to get socialising, for some of us, a work night out can be a real source of anxiety.
Whilst we spend most of our time with work colleagues, quite often they are the people we know the least about.
We choose our friends in our personal lives, but we don’t get to choose the people we work with, which can sometimes mean we have little in common with them.
This can make us feel uneasy about social gatherings, especially if we feel as though we won’t have anything other than work to talk about.
However, building positive work relationships can increase our overall work satisfaction and a happier, more positive workplace.
Do you know people who have friends at work reportedly enjoy their job more than people who don’t?
Positive work relationships build trust and as a result can help develop your career through promotions, opportunities, pay rises and can also make you feel more engaged with your organisation.
Here are some tips to help you develop enjoyable social relationships with your work colleagues:
You’ve done the hard part by showing up! Plan ahead to find out who is going to be there, what you should wear and how long the evening will last for – this can help reduce anxiety by letting you know what to expect.
Perhaps you could arrange to share a taxi with someone from work so you’re not showing up on your own? Who knows, they may also be feeling similar anxieties and be grateful for the company!
Keep the conversation light
Just because you work together doesn’t mean that’s all you can talk about.
Ask your work colleagues about things you may have in common which makes conversation easier such as their family, hobbies or favourite films to try and find out more about them.
Showing interest helps breaks barriers and people generally enjoy talking about themselves.
However, it’s generally better to avoid controversial subjects such as religion and politics. Also, try to stay away from very personal subjects which could potentially cause offence or make people feel uncomfortable.
Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not to try and impress people, and don’t ‘fake’ interests just to have something in common with your colleagues. Be honest about your interests and opinions, that way people will like you, for you.
If we feel as though people aren’t making an effort with us, we can sometimes retreat into ourselves, making the situation worse.
Take matters into your own hands by initiating conversation and joining groups around the room. Also, make sure to involve others who may look as though they are struggling to mingle.
If you see someone sitting on their own, why not sit with them and engage them in some conversation?
Enjoy the party, but avoid drinking too much
You may feel as though you need some Dutch courage, but there is nothing worse than heading into the office on Monday morning worried if you’ve embarrassed yourself.
We tend to lose our inhibitions when we have too much to drink and this can be disastrous if we’re in a room with bosses or colleagues we dislike.
Lasting work relationships take time to build, but once they’re developed they can greatly improve your work satisfaction. If you view work gatherings as a positive experience to help you develop these friendships, then you will feel more relaxed and not worry about them as much.
Ultimately, they provide a great opportunity to have some fun with colleagues out of the office – ‘tis the season to be jolly after all!