Many times in universities, people don't dedicate much time to build friendly relationships with colleagues. Unfortunately, this happens both in the tenured positions and in non-tenured positions, with many bad consequences (such as for examples, many researchers actually don't know what other colleagues are researching on...).

I've always been thinking that building strong friend relationships with colleagues can be very useful and powerful, for careers but most of all to create a more serene work environment.

I think that a good way to create friendly relationships with colleagues is organizing extra-work activities, such as dinners, soccer matches, etc. Last week some of my PhD student colleagues organized a pizza dinner between colleagues. All my department (~150) PhD students were invited, but in the end we were just 9! :-(

What d'you do to build strong friend relationships with colleagues? Could you tell some success stories? Could you give some good advices?

4 Answers 4


In my experience, a lot of academics tend to shy away from things like a pizza party. I would suggest thinking about things that connect common interests. For example, consider starting a book club on some relatively broad topic of interest, or a group where folks read and comment on each other's work. These kind of things can be really valuable of they ring together folks from different specalizations. It is always good to get a different perspective.

As another example, think about setting up a brown bag lecture series. These can be great ways to get folks out of their offices and talking.

Beyond this, I would generaly suggest not trying to set up events that have 150 people invited. Think smaller and more targeted.

  • Thanx, Trevor. What is a brown bag lecture series? Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 8:25
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    It is a reference to the kinds of brown bags people bring their lunches to work in. Brown bag lectures are presentations or discussions where people are encouraged to bring and eat their lunch. Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 10:12

In our department, the assistant professors go out for drinks once a month (a fixed day of the week and a fixed week of the month). That tends to work out quite well: we can let off steam, compare notes on our students (and what senior faculty dish out in the name of advice :)), and generally get a nice group. I've had a few collaborations start because of this as well.

The general faculty also do a drinks night occasionally, but not as regularly.


Eat lunch with people.

While many researcher don't have very flexible schedules, they do occasionally eat. However, creating a structured lunch environment where there is a daily meeting location at a consistent time with a knowledge that anyone can drop by without feeling excluded, closeted academics might feel like they might have to make time to grab some lunch.

Then there are the occasional department happy hours.


Be a leader! Make a research group, Know what you want to do and divide the works, Do not waste your time on finding friends, Be a person whose character is interesting for other people, Be yourself, be the guy who has big dreams, Then you have a team with people who want to have a role in your work. Never try to be the person who follows the others, Be the person who is followed by others.

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    "do not waste your time on finding friends" is a strange perspective on a question about finding friendly relationships.
    – Suresh
    Commented Oct 29, 2012 at 8:13
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    I mentioned this because trying to find friends just make you far away from your true self. Be yourself, friends are like magnets, if you be yourself, you will have friends who like you because of your true character not because of your strive for doing whatever they like you to do. That is all I mentioned. I did not say friendship is bad but true friendship differs from being a follower.
    – Hamed
    Commented Oct 29, 2012 at 22:30

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