Before we talk about ways to be more social, we need to talk about why.
Not everyone naturally wants to be an extroverted social butterfly, or even necessarily should. Fortunately, you do not need to be a bubbly, party-circulator with gobs of friends you hang out with every night, to channel the benefits of social interaction in the workplace.
So even if you have a case of lone wolf syndrome, take a look at how (and why) to be more social at the office. It’s a great goal that will yield dividends.
Even for the lone wolf personality, human beings are inherently social creatures. The shyest lone wolf likes to talk or listen to someone. The television, music, social media feeds or city background may provide the necessary sound of other human beings, but too much isolation, and too little live interaction, and a person can feel listless, purposeless, or hungry for human interaction. We like the company of others, and we hope they like our company too.
Socializing also comes with a host of benefits:
- Combating depression
- Building support networks
- Learning from others
- Working together more smoothly and efficiently
- Enjoying our work more
- Forming connections that can lead to promotion or success
Given so many benefits, both personally and professionally, there’s ample reason to get your social on at the office.
So here’s how.
Let’s do Lunch
If you work a typical 8 to 5 American schedule, lunch will likely land somewhere in the middle. Often, most or all of your company will get lunch at the same time. So, why not make lunch a social hour? If others tend to bring their own lunch, bring yours and sit together. Ask a coworker out to lunch. Avoid that awkward, “Is this a date?” situation, or appearing like you are sucking-up to the boss you invite, by inviting a couple of people at once. Four is a great number for everyone to have someone to talk to (no odd man out!), and will clearly not look like a lunch double-date, so long as it’s not all a group of singles.
If you are feeling very brave, invite yourself to lunch with a group you see headed out with a friendly, “Hey, can I come too?”
Start an Activity
Deepen office connections with an activity outside of work. Invite the whole office to go to the same movie theater on the same night and catch a movie–which you can also extend with late-night appetizers nearby afterward.
Or start a regular activity, such as a quarterly community service day, a bi-monthly hiking/biking/outdoor activity, or a work team in the annual city run. “A team that sweats together stays together,” they say.
Mix it Up
One of the best things that can come of workplace socialization is a sense of connectedness and teamwork. One of the worst things that can occur is a sense of cliquishness. So avoid the clique-trap by mixing it up. Challenge your own comfort zone and sit somewhere else in the cafeteria. Invite different people to lunch. Stand around the water cooler at a different time.
You don’t need to be an extrovert to pull off these sorts of social interactions at the office, but it may require an extra dose of bravery. If it feels awkward or flat, just try again (and keep in mind that others might experience awkwardness as well, even the confident-seeming type).
It can be a challenge to mix up social groups, but you may just find another lone wolf and help everyone feel part of the pack.