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Workplace Friendships: Do’s and Dont’s

Friendships in the Work Place

When working full-time, the most of our we spend most of our waking hours with at work. It’s no surprise that work is one of the primary sources for friendships. Workplace friendships can make our days more enjoyable. Our work friends understand the context of the workplace, the players in the office and the challenges that present themselves. They can also be our biggest champions and our moral compass. These relationships are often an asset on the job, but they can also be the source of conflict and create problems. Here are some useful tips for workplace relationships.

Do: Be friendly at work. You don’t have to be best friends everyone in your office, but it’s good practice to be kind to everyone. A little collegial goodwill goes a long way. It will also allow colleagues that have similar goals and values to get to know you.

Do: Create and maintain boundaries. Friendships are great but not at the expense of professionalism. It’s entirely appropriate to have different types of friendships, and it’s okay that your work friends don’t know everything about you. Maintaining appropriate boundaries prevent awkward situations in the workplace.

Do: Make friends that are different from you. We naturally gravitate to people who are similar to us. Creating friendship across difference can being an enriching experience. Relationships with people who hare different provide the opportunity for learning. Friends that aren’t your long lost twin will give you new perspectives on workplace situations and spark creativity.

Don’t: Create cliques. You may become extra close to a set of co-workers, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It becomes a problem when others in your workplace feel excluded. Cliques create unnecessary conflict in the workplace and can affect performance. Assumptions and anxiety can impact how efficient a team is when there’s a perceived “in” and “out” group.

Don’t: Compete. Friendly competition is not a bad thing. But competition at work can affect people’s livelihood. There may be times that you and your work buddy will go for the same position. In those situations, be honest with your friend about the situation and be careful of purposely throwing your friend under the bus for personal gain. Being cutthroat can have long-term effects that impact your professional career regularly.

Don’t: Triangulate. There may be times when you our your work friends have a conflict with another member of the team.  It can be tempting to work together and someone a taste of their own medicine, a workplace bully, for example. Nothing good comes of these plans. Any intentional creation of conflict will often come back to haunt you and mean the end of a friendship.