I just moved to a new city and I’m keenly aware of the need to make new friends. This is my second move in 8 years for my current company and I have the benefit of what worked/didn’t work in our last city to build upon.
The biggest lesson I learned was to make sure and have lots of friends outside of my job. In our last teeny tiny city, my co-workers became the cornerstone of our social network. They were amazing, wonderful people for the most part. I’m still dear friends with a few and Facebook friends with many, but there are many problems with the friends@work thing.
Problem #1: Non-stop talking shop during social gatherings. Painful for spouses and not the best stress reliever.
Problem #2: Gossip. What happens after work becomes fodder for discussion at work. With everyone.
Problem #3: Awkwardness as you/they move up/down the ladder or move around the organization.
Problem #4: Crazy awkwardness when people get fired or are performing poorly.
Problem #5: Double crazy awkwardness if those mentioned in Problem #4 suspect/believe that you had anything to do with their situation.
Of course there are good things about work friends, too. My favorite benefit is when I’m having a work-related crisis, they can come up to speed on my issue and offer advice or empathy quickly because they get it. The short-hand of someone who knows they lay of the land is a huge help when the going gets tough.
Outside of work, here are my recommendations based on my experiences the past 6 months:
- Join a church. Some of our favorite people and deepest relationships in our last city were friends from our Bible Study small group. Knowing we could find a church and connect in this way was one of the things that gave us confidence to move again. We have landed in a small group and are enjoying getting to know this new set of brothers and sisters in Christ. They are wonderful people.
- Say Yes. We have been fortunate to have received several invitations and I/we have consciously leaned in and said Yes to the following:
- A neighborhood Christmas party
- Attending the annual homeowners association (HOA) meeting
- Volunteering to serve on the HOA board (my husband thought I was CRAZY!)
- Hosting the quarterly HOA board meeting
- Going to a brand new neighbor’s New Year’s Eve party based on an email blast to the HOA
- Attending all of my son’s lacrosse games
- Going to a new acquaintances restaurant
- Coming Soon (Hot Yoga!)
- Throw a party. We were inspired by the new neighbors who moved in Christmas weekend and then managed to host a New Year’s party just a few days later. They motivated us to put our last few unpacked boxes in the garage and start entertaining. We have hosted a small new acquaintance dinner party in February and then a larger party with about 20 neighbors for St. Patty’s. We also had a pot-luck with our new small group. We are looking forward to summer barbecues and keeping the festivities going.
- Rekindle old friendships. One of the biggest blessings of moving here has been the opportunity to reconnect with a childhood friend who just happened to move to this same metropolitan area 6 months ahead of me. (thank you Facebook!) She is everything you would want in a dear friend and I can’t believe we haven’t been hanging out the past 40 years.
- Don’t forget about your old friends. With Skype, texting, Facebook and hands free cellular built into the steering wheel of my car, it is easier to stay connected with my geographically challenged friends than ever. As much as I look forward to the new friends God puts in my path, I treasure the oldies but goodies, too. Occasionally when I feel lonely and wonder why I’m not beating new friend requests off with a stick, I think about the people I hold near and dear and the mutual respect and love we share. I must be doing something right to have these amazing people in my life.
As part of my Happiness Project I will devote the entire month of June to the quest for new friends. So I have two months to devise a game plan. One resource I hope will generate multiple new ideas is my next audio book. Looks like a fun listen!