The Science Behind Friendship With Coworkers

by | Nov 14, 2023 | Blog

Remember your first day in a new job? Did you have sweaty palms, a red face, and your deodorant quit on you before you were 3 feet away from the reception desk? Did that stutter you worked so hard to overcome by middle school rear its ugly head on you? Did you call the HR Director by the wrong name even though you spent an hour with them during the interview process?

Let’s face it, jumping into a new work environment is stressful. You’ve got a lot riding on this first impression you’re trying to make. You’ll be spending more time with these people in the coming weeks, months, and years than you will with your family. And having friends makes work more enjoyable, eases stress, and helps the clock move quicker.

Some employers work hard to ease the stress of your first days by providing an excellent onboarding experience that includes assigning you mentors and work buddies to introduce you around and help you feel included.

Other employers focus only on the technical side of onboarding and leave you to figure out the friend thing on your own.

And how about if you’re working hybrid or remote? Making friends might be hard enough for you in person, now you’ve got to figure out how to be engaging on zoom. There goes the deodorant again.

Why does making friends at work seem so easy for some people and is so tough for others?

It could have something to do with your DISC.

DISC Matters When Making Friends

The DISC model highlights 4 distinct patterns of behavior and your unique pattern can influence how easy or hard it is for you to connect with others.

The 4 primary DISC styles are: Decisive (D), Interactive (I), Stabilizing (S), Cautious (C).

(Note: The above terminology used to describe the D, I, S, and C was interpreted by Innermetrix. You may have seen or heard different words used to highlight the categories like Dominant, Influencing, Submissive, and Compliant or Dominance, influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. All of these variations highlight the same types of behavior based on the science first studied by Dr. William Marston. Innermetrix has chosen positive terms more appropriate to the current times.)

We’ll examine each style and offer some tips on friend-making based on your unique DISC pattern.

How A High D Makes Friends

Those who score highest on the DISC in the D category can be described as being direct, assertive, and results-oriented. If you score high in Decisive, you are often seen as a take-charge individual who enjoys getting things done. You may not believe you have trouble making friends but high D individuals can be perceived as aggressive or pushy by some of the other DISC styles.

If you are a decisive-style individual you can easily walk into a room full of strangers and proceed to make friends relying on your confident appearance and demeanor. It’s important for you to temper your aggressiveness with empathy.

Higher I’s In New Environments

High Interactives are typically enthusiastic, people-oriented, and persuasive. If you have a high I, you most likely present yourself in an authentic, genuine way and love to connect with others. Building relationships is probably important to you.

Being in the higher I category might make you think you have the easiest time making new friends. You’ve got Interactive right there in the name! While that can be true, you can also wear others down by talking too much. It’s a good idea to temper that enthusiasm, ask more questions, and give others the floor.

The S Category

Those with higher scores in the S column can be described as stable, consistent, and reliable. If you are high in the Stabilizing dimension, you could pride yourself as being an excellent trust-builder and usually a very patient listener. You enjoy creating long-term relationships and connect easily due to your easy-going nature. That easy-going nature could be a detriment in that it might make you slow to take action or make decisions.

When making friends, you should be your loyal, friendly, and supportive self. Your excellent listening ability and willingness to help will also play in your favor. You should remember to try and be more assertive and decisive in your interactions at times. This will help you step away from being a wallflower and join in the conversation sooner rather than later.

How A Higher C Impacts Interactions

If you have a higher C on the DISC scale, you can be seen as introspective, analytical, and detail-oriented. While you might be skilled at providing accurate information and building trust, you may struggle to connect as you can appear perfectionistic, persnickety, or like a know-it-all.

In new interactive environments, a higher C like you should rely on your trustworthiness and honesty, and attempt to dial down your need for perfection. You should be willing to share your knowledge in an open and friendly way without being show-offy or condescending.

How To Use DISC To Connect At Work

Spending some time getting to know the nuances inside DISC style preferences can be used to your advantage when connecting with new team members at work. You can learn your own strengths and weaknesses and gain some insights into the behavioral idiosyncrasies of others.

If you want a challenge, spend some time in your initial interactions trying to determine the DISC style of others and work to match their preference. Here are a couple of hints:

  • A higher D is probably front and center confidently demonstrating their expertise.
  • A higher I is enthusiastically attempting to engage all of the new team members in conversation.
  • A higher S may be hanging around the edges of the room attentively watching and listening before they jump in.
  • A higher C is quietly observing the room waiting for someone to approach them.

These are just some basic tips when it comes to interacting with strangers. Making friends takes time and effort but when you do it in the workplace, you’re enriching yourself, others, and your company culture.



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