Our technology-based and success/career-driven society creates conditions making it harder and harder to get away from work. By and large, we are spending more time in the office, and are increasingly expected to stay connected during our personal time. Some would argue they spend more time with their co-workers than with their families. To make matters worse, all of this time spent working can mean a quick burn-out for some. It is in these instances that having friends at work can be a real lifesaver. Friends who work together can understand what each other has to go through at the office, and those established friendships may make coming to work a little more enjoyable. It can almost be a built-in stress reliever and support network right there amidst your greatest source of stress. As important as having friends at work can be, it can also be a dangerous thing if not done correctly.
Consider the following most common mistakes when it comes to making friends at work:
Boundaries are not clearly defined. There are some things you would tell your close friends that are just not work appropriate. Although you may consider a co-worker a close friend, it is important to maintain professionalism, so that you may be taken seriously and held with high regard.
Not keeping friends outside of work. Everyone needs at least one friend they do not work with, if for no other reason than to alleviate the challenge listed above. You can feel free to be relatively uncensored with friends you don’t have to see at work each Monday morning.
Being too close. You must be your own individual. Think about how this might affect promotion considerations. Your qualifications may be seen in tandem with your co-worker’s and, with only one opening, a hiring manager may wish to forego the waves that picking one of you over the other might create by instead choosing a less qualified person who is seen as an individual.
Gossiping. It is natural for friends to talk about the other people they know. However, in an office setting, gossiping too much can really create trouble. Others may end up losing trust and respect for you, and create a tough environment for team work.
Expecting special treatment. Everyone in the office has to play by the same rules. When it comes down to business, fair and smart decisions must be made. It’s not easy, but results that come out of business decisions aren’t always the same as those that come out of decisions based on friendship.
What strategies have you encountered that successfully negotiate that gray area between co-worker and friend? How can you best manage your relationships at work to be effective for you both personally and professionally? Please feel free to share in the comments space below.