Yes, you read that right – socializing at work can actually help your career. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have a free pass to spend half the day gossiping when you should be working. But you also should not isolate yourself at work. What kind of balance should you aim for when it comes to socializing with co-workers? And exactly how is this supposed to help advance your career?
The Good and Bad Side of Socializing
Socializing can be a powerful tool, but like most things in life, there is a right and wrong way to do it. First, the bad. We all know that misery loves company, but you should avoid engaging your co-workers in negative conversations. Complaining about work while you’re at work can have a lot of negative effects. It’s bad for your health, can make you more stressed out, and can give you a bad reputation. Perhaps worst of all, though, if your boss catches wind of your negative attitude, it could land you in hot water.
A better way of socializing is to develop genuine friendships. Spend time talking with your co-workers during breaks and lunches. Invite them to socialize outside of work, if possible. Even if your co-workers are not people you’d normally hang out with, it is well worth it to make the effort.
Why Socialize at Work?
The benefits of having a strong social network at work have been widely studied. One study by MIT professor Dr. Alex Pentland showed that employees who had more face-to-face interaction with co-workers were more productive – even when their interactions were not work related. In another, the University of Michigan found that ten-minute conversations about friendly, idle topics helped participants solve problems more easily.
But the benefit your boss is most likely to care about is much simpler than any research study. If you get along with your co-workers, you show you are a team player. You are more likely to be considered for promotions or special projects, because your boss sees you can get along well with the team.
To sum it all up, be friendly at work. Don’t be a time thief (which is manager jargon for wasting time), so keep your conversations to appropriate time and place. But don’t be a lone wolf, either. Not only will you be happier with your job, you can help your career, as well! Contact us today for more information.