'I tried the 40-1-5 method to make friends at work. It didn't go as planned.'

I pride myself on my ability to easily make friends. So much so that I've given advice to my existing friends on how they can make even more friends. 

There has, however, been one area in my life that I've always struggled with in the relationship-building department — making friends at work

I saw a Reddit post that said:

"Being the new person at work feels like being a new character on season 5 of a show you've heard used to be better."

This perfectly encapsulates what it's like trying to make friends at a workplace

Watch: Horoscopes when there's a problem at work.

Video via Mamamia

You have everything working against you, you're new, you have to get a lay of the land, everyone has already established their friendship roles and you have to do all of this while navigating the ins and outs of office politics by yourself. 

When I started my last job, I made it my goal to form a close friendship with at least one person.

Luckily for me, one person was all I needed. 

According to Ryan Jenkins and Steven Van Cohen, co-authors of Connectable: How Leaders Can Move Teams From Isolated to All Inthere is a specific formula for combating loneliness by making friends at work: it's called the 40-1-5 method.


Here's a breakdown: 

If you're interacting with someone, it takes 40 seconds for feelings of loneliness to lessen. 

It takes one work friend to feel less lonely. 

And it takes five minutes for someone to share a personal anecdote in a team meeting. 

The book speaks to people in leadership and managerial positions on how they can implement the 40-1-5 method at their place of work. However, not all of us are in positions of power to do this. Some of us (me) have to make friends on our own. 

Here's how I attempted the 40-1-5 method. 

I thought the easiest way to get the ball rolling would be to start with the five. I am a yapper and I also rarely have a filter. Talking about something personal should've been easy peasy. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. In one of my first team meetings, I talked about how I was looking after my family's dog that week. This prompted a few people in the team to message me after, wanting to learn more about my dog as well as share photos of their pets. 

Unfortunately for me, my dog passed away a few weeks later from old age which made everyone in my team uncomfortable and we never talked about pets again... Anyway... 

All dark humour aside, bringing up something personal in a team meeting does actually work. It breaks down barriers and makes you sound relatable, creating a more relaxing environment. 

Next up, we have the one. Surely I can get one person to like me. The issue with making one friend is that there are different levels of friendship and you both might have differing ideas on where you stand with eachother. An initial work friendship is like a situationship that's been going on for too long. 


Luckily for me, in my workplace there was only one other person who was a similar age to me so we connected pretty quickly. Finding a friend at work takes time, especially if your job doesn't create an easy environment to casually get to know other people. 

I found that the best way to make friends at work is to say yes to everything. When I first started my job, I went to every after-work drinks, joined every social group and even put my hand up to help plan events and organise meetings. 

The 40 comes naturally after working on the one and the five. 

Loneliness in the workplace can have serious harm on a person's mental health. According to The Social Connection in Australia 2023 report, loneliness also has a snowball effect and can lead to distorted workplace relationships and a decrease in productivity, resulting in businesses suffering. 

The report found that one in six people have feelings of extreme loneliness in their lives. The majority of those were young people aged 18-24. This is also the same demographic that's navigating the workplace for the first time. 

It's important to attempt to implement the 40-1-5 method at work, but it's even more important for businesses to create an environment for their employees to establish close and healthy relationships with each other to combat loneliness.   

If you want more culture opinions from Emily Vernem, you can follow her on Instagram @emilyvernem.

Feature image: Supplied.

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