Making friends at work can feel daunting once you’ve isolated yourself from colleagues
Hi Dr. Irene,
I am a 41-year-old female who is having a horrible time establishing cordial relationships at work. I do the best I can at my job (I am a social worker) and I get along with my supervisor.
When I first started my job, I would chitchat with coworkers sometimes. Then more and more, I became like a recluse. I go in, sit at my desk to do my job, and basically stay in my cubby.
I currently have no friends and have not had a friend since I finished high school at the age of 17. It bothers me that I cut myself off from others and I do not know why I do this. It is not intentional.
I’d like some advice on how to develop better relationships with my co-workers.
It sounds like you have a hard time making and sustaining friendships and tend to be a loner—so it’s not surprising that these same problems would transfer over into your workplace. In fact, for a variety of reasons, workplace friendships can be even trickier to make and sustain than friendships outside.
From what you say, you want to connect with other people but are having a hard time doing so. Since you haven’t been able to make any friends for many years and this appears to be a persistent pattern, you would likely benefit by speaking individually to someone (e.g. a counselor or mental health professional) who can help you figure out why this is happening and how to overcome these difficulties.
It also occurs to me that you may be anxious or depressed—either of these conditions can hold someone back from socializing. Hopefully, a skilled professional will be able to help you sort things out. Recognizing that it is a pattern you want to change is a great first step.
Additionally, you may want to read some of the other posts on this blog that talk about specific approaches for making new friends. My suggestion would be to begin trying to make a friend or two outside of work. Do you have some interest or hobby that can put you in contact with other people?
Unfortunately, if you have become a recluse at work, it will be somewhat difficult to break out of that role but you should make a conscious effort to smile or greet at least one person in your office warmly each day. People are likely to respond in kind.
Warm regards, Irene
Category: MAKING FRIENDS