Should I socialise with my co-workers?
They say don't mix business with pleasure, but not socialising with your colleagues can be very bad for your career and mark you out as a loner or someone who does not care. Any form of socialising with co-workers outside of the office can be positively useful - and fun. After all, you are all working together so it helps you build relationships and perhaps get to see people - and situations in a different perspective away from deadlines and work.
Everyone has a personal life as well. Getting to know a little bit about those people can help make the day go by much faster. When you work, you spend a large portion of your time with co-workers. In many instances, more time than you do with your own family.
Outside the workplace
Many people don't place a great deal of importance on their work relationships because they are just too busy or simply want to get away from work as soon as possible, yet making friends with someone you work with changes your situation and they become more than just a co-worker.
This situation naturally means you are more likely to get along during working hours - and be more supportive of each other, your relationship has crossed into a friendship and this is always a good thing regardless of the work you do. General friendships, if not close friendships that you form with co-workers help work go smoothly and without socialising you won't know anything about people other than what you see in the office.
Needless to say, socialising outside of work hours is extremely important to your overall well-being, it lets you know who you can trust and those that you shouldn't. Knowing who you can trust will help you make more sound decisions in the workplace about who you should and shouldn't confide in.
Work situations and what to pick
There are social work situations that are open to everybody:
- The staff party
- The Christmas party
- The work day trip
- The birthday drink
- The leaving do
You should try to attend some of the open social occasions. Non-attendance just means you simply don't care which can be counterproductive. However, if you really don't want to attend any of the open invitations, then one might reasonably ask why you even want to stay working there.
Many people stay for a drink after work, or meet for lunch. As these situations are not part of the company, you have more of a choice to attend or not.
It's always worth making the effort. Rejection can seem insulting - and that is not your aim. Acceptance means you are part of the team - even if you do not attend all invites. And remember, if you are a little shy, or not very talkative at the best of times, attending a social event doesn't mean you have to be the life and soul of the party - or even drink too much. Your attendance and participation is enough.
In these situations people can talk freely and quite openly. Sometimes you may want to talk to another co-worker about a situation at work. You don't want to talk about it at work because it is too inhibiting. Be careful here though, as you do not want to bad-mouth any colleagues to others - any grievances should be taken up with the person directly, or with HR.
Many work problems have been solved over a lunch or an afterhours drink or meal. Many good ideas likewise have been thought up outside of the office.
A few good reasons for socialising include:
- Speaking your mind in a friendly way
- Not feeling disloyal or negative
- Getting things off your chest
- Finding out what's really going on
All of the above helps a great deal with career moves that you may want to take later on. It also helps make the days pass much more quickly and you will feel good about the people that you work with.
Good career move
Although you may not want to make an everyday habit of socialising outside work hours with your co-workers, it never hurts to do it. You can form friendships and make contacts that could be very useful and supportive later on. Most importantly, it may be necessary to form such connections and friendships for the sake of your career. Your ability to make friends, be a part of the team and show some of your true character can help when it comes to internal networking. Finding those opportunities for advancement within a company often come from knowing fully what's going on; who's leaving, who's staying, what's coming up. It used to be called 'keeping your ear to the ground'.
Most of the best opportunities for advancement are never advertised, but they are talked about in the work/social situation. Camaraderie with co-workers is an important and beneficial aspect of any job. It may even be just what you need to relieve some of the stress.
In any social work situation, remember to drink responsibly and don't be pressured into drinking more than you want to just to 'fit in'.