If you’re working a full-time job, then it likely means you’re spending most of your waking hours at your place of employment. So, it’s only natural that you want to feel as though you’re surrounded by people who support you and with whom you can communicate openly.
Though you may not love each and every one of your coworkers, hopefully you can connect with at least one person—whether he or she is on your team or not—who can help advise you when you’re in a bind or need some advice. I’ve usually gravitated towards either someone in a similar role as me or a mentor/senior colleague who is willing to spend some time every now and then chatting over a cup of coffee or lunch.
Again, this is not to say that your colleagues need to be your best friends, but establishing open communication lines with one or more coworkers is helpful for the following reasons:
- No one truly understands what you do or how your organization operates like the other people who work there. Therefore, a coworker will likely give you the best advice as to how to handle a problem regarding a procedure that’s unique to your business.
- Occasionally, an issue—professional or sometimes personal—will come up unexpectedly in the middle of the day, when your friends or family may not be as accessible to offer words of encouragement. It’s incredibly refreshing to be able to have someone physically accessible to use as a sounding board.
- Sometimes, a conversation about a work project will lead to a discussion on a hobby or pastime that you didn’t previously realize you shared. I’ve often found that connecting with colleagues on an interpersonal level leads to better results when I’m working with those same people long-term… not to mention the fact that the day-to-day goings-on end up being much more enjoyable (or dare I say, fun)!
- You’ll likely grow more as a professional if you can identify those within your organization who offer the best advice or with whom you can most easily bounce around ideas (those might be different people, by the way).
So next time you’re at the water cooler, try saying hello to a colleague with whom you don’t normally chat. You may just discover that they’ve been at the company for 10 years and can offer a newbie like yourself advice on certain protocols. Usually, there’s not much to lose in these situations, even if you don’t end up “clicking” long-term.
Julie Perry edits nonfiction sports books at Skyhorse Publishing. She is also a part-time tutor in New York City. In her free time, Julie enjoys cheering for her favorite sports teams (especially the Mets), reading, writing and eating lots of sushi. A graduate of Brandeis University, Julie received her Masters degree from New York University.