If you’re like me and you work full time, you’re around your coworkers more than all of your family and friends—at least 40 hours a week, from morning till evening, five days a week. Connecting with and relating to a unique group of people that you’re around a lot, who may come from very different backgrounds, can be challenging.
Here are four tips I’ve found effective in developing relationships and demonstrating God’s love with my coworkers.
One of the most important things you can do to better know your coworkers is to do what they do, and build their trust.
My coworkers like to party, but I’m not your typical partier (though I do have a mean Michael Jackson-spin). Ever since I started working in college, I’ve shied away from big parties.
Eventually, my coworkers wouldn’t even invite me to hang out with them because they knew I wouldn’t come—and they were right! They had no idea who I was, and I had them pegged down to a tee. At least I thought I did.
I’ve since learned the importance of getting out of your comfort zone, and that goes both ways. If you love to party but your coworkers are more straight-edged and conservative, then try it out. And if you’re more conservative and not really the party type, try going out to have some fun with your colleagues.
Spend time with your coworkers, build trust, and show them that you’re not a one-dimensional character who only wants to do what you want to do.
Pay for Things
Did you know that being generous is one of the most appreciated and memorable things you can do? People love it. And it can change you too.
Second Corinthians 9:6 says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” Generous people beget generosity to others, and it opens up doors to developing deeper relationships. You know what’s hilarious and so ironic that it’s painful? Selfishness also begets more selfishness! If you resist chipping in, don’t count on being invited again. Or even really being liked.
Generosity is uncommon these days. But it’s biblical, and whether they know it, people thirst for it. If you want to develop better relationships with coworkers, give a little. Buy your coworker lunch. Bring them a cup of coffee. Spring for dinner after work.
The Muffin Experiment
I love muffins and I love this experiment. I first heard about the idea through a friend of mine. The premise was simple: buy a muffin (or some other unexpected treat) for a coworker, and include an encouraging note that shows you appreciate them.
How would you feel if someone did that for you? I know that if a coworker of mine (especially the new person) brought me a muffin, without being weird or expecting me to repay the favor, then I’d feel very good.
I don’t know if a cataclysmic change occurred in my friend’s office environment, but I bet at least three things happened: whoever received a muffin had a brighter day, felt appreciated and cared for, and was far more likely to talk, joke, and communicate with the muffin giver.
When you work with the same people regularly, it’s very easy to fall into a mindset that kind of ignores their basic human instincts to be cared for, even if in small ways. I think there are a lot of valuable and fun relationships that are only a muffin away.
Ask Deeper Questions
There have been times when I know that a coworker is having a terrible day. You’ve seen this too. As comfortable and safe as it may be to just stick to sports, celebrities, and the weather, what would it look like if you asked slightly deeper questions? Simple things like:
How are you and __________ (significant other)? Have things been going well?
How’s the family?
Sorry about yesterday. I heard there was a lot of work-related frustration. Are you okay?
What’s your story? I feel like I know a lot about what you do on the weekdays, but what else are you about?
Why did you choose this vocation? What are your goals and aspirations for the future?
By not asking deeper questions, you’re missing out on some potential great conversations—maybe even about faith—with your coworkers. Plus, a coworker might just be longing for an actual friend at work! Be that person.
It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there to your colleagues. But when you build trust, express generosity, demonstrate care, and invest in relationships at work, you may find some great friends and opportunities to share the gospel.