It’s one thing to have people you know intimately within your private social circle, and it’s another thing entirely to have friends who also happen to be your coworkers. Despite what you may have seen on countless films and TV shows, having friends at work isn’t exactly all sunshine and daisies. For the average person, it can be rather awkward to make friends with other people in the workplace, and even when they do make friends, there will oftentimes be tensions flaring due to the mounting stress and pressures that come with the territory.
Furthermore, it’s admittedly harder to make friends within the workplace naturally unless there are people whom you already know working there alongside you. But should you find yourself in a position where you’re working in a company where you don’t know anyone personally outside of the office, then you should make the effort to befriend certain people from a strategic standpoint. It might sound political and Machiavellian in nature, but think of it as a way to bolster your position within the company while still being very sociable.
And because there’s the fact that a person can never truly please anyone, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to be selective when it comes to befriending people in the office. However, you should also be very careful to not come across as a person taking advantage of someone else in the guise of being amiable. Even though you’re strategically networking yourself to others so that you could get things done, you still need to be genuine with your offers of camaraderie. That being said, here are the five types of people that you need to befriend in your workplace.
In every workplace, no matter the size or scale of the company, there’s always a group of people whose opinions help shape the direction of the business or how the workplace operates on a daily basis. Such people are called influencers, and befriending them could do you a world of good in the long run. But don’t assume that influencers are automatically higher management such as supervisors, managers, or top-level executives. In fact, most influencers happen to be people who hold mid-level positions. This is because higher management often seek the input of people they trust implicitly and who also happen to be their subordinates. Workplace influencers are usually those who are often seen coordinating with senior staff, so keep an eye out for them since they hold a considerable amount of sway if you get on their good side. Bonus points if you happen to already be friends with an office influencer, so make sure to keep yourself in check and try not to meddle in their affairs unless they willingly share their information with you.
Aside from any member of higher management, a decision maker can also be a colleague from your level—or even someone below or above your position—who typically makes important arragements that are esssential to the daily operations of your company. These people may work in different departments and also perform distinctive responsibilities that justifies their categorization as a decision maker in your office. If you’re keenly aware of who they are, then you should take the necessary steps to forging bonds with them. Regardless of whether that colleague holds a senior or junior position, you should respect their status as a decision maker if they happen to be one. For instance, if you are part of a group project and one of your coworkers is assigned by higher management as the leader, then that person is—by all intents and purposes—the one who makes all the executive decisions for the group handling the assignment. And if you befriend them, you might just have a chance of getting your opinions heard to influence their decision making process.
Even though they might be caricatured and stereotyped in the media as the hapless and frequently abused underlings of their superiors, the reality is that the executive assistants to your bosses actually wield a considerable amount of power within the workplace despite their placement in the overall hierarchy. Considering that they are the ones who have immediate access to your boss’s schedule and act as gatekeepers to their professional affairs, assistants are definitely the type of colleagues you definitely want as your allies. But the thing you need to be careful with when associating yourself with assistants is that they can be really perceptive and know instantly if they’re merely being used in order to ingratiate themselves to their boss. For this type of colleague, you just simply need to act as their friend without any hidden agendas and they’ll be less guarded around your presence. In fact, if you are truly genuine with your friendship towards them, then they’d be happy to help you out in their own little way as a sort of discreet liaison between you and their boss.
If your office equipment is malfunctioning and you’re having trouble with faulty facilities, then the people expected to address these concerns are those who are dubbed as fixers. Not just limited to the people who work in the maintenance department, but a fixer could—in theory—be practically anybody in your office who is highly resourceful and knows how to resolve unexpected issues that pop up in the workplace. And if you want your life in the office to run smoothly, then having a fixer as your friend could just be your saving grace. Are you having problems with the office copy machine where the inner workings are jammed? Is your computer revealed to be infected with a malicious virus or malware that needs to be removed immediately? Is the coffee maker in your pantry unable to dispense your regular caffeine fix despite the appliance seemingly functional in appearance? With a clique of fixers on your side, these common workplace problems will disappear in an instant and frees you from having to suffer through inconveniences that will affect your workload.
Trainers and Mentors
When you need someone who can help you navigate the complex web of office politics and emerge from the situation largely unscathed, then being friends with someone who is a trainer or a mentor would be a good idea. Their job title doesn’t necessarily have to explicitly state that they are actually trainers or mentors, but they could be any senior or junior coworker who has had extensive experience giving valuable advice to others on work-related matters. Simply put, this is someone who can act as your advisor or confidante. Age is certainly not an issue when you’re befriending someone in the office who is pegged by others as a mentor. If you happen to be friends with someone older than you, then that person could give you some valuable lessons on how to deal with more traditional points of view. On the other hand, if your mentor happens to be someone around your age or younger, then they could provide a fresh and alternative perspective that might broaden your worldview. Treat your mentor friends with respect and they’ll guide you really well.