The Dos and Don’ts Of Office Friendships

February 4, 2020  |  
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Considering how much time the average person spends at work, building friendships with colleagues is not only helpful but sometimes it’s necessary to survive in challenging work environments. Studies have shown that workplace friendships can have a significant impact on job satisfaction. At the same time, they can yield highly disastrous results when not approached carefully. You can ensure that your work friendships are working for you and not against you, by keeping these simple guidelines in mind.

Establish boundaries

It’s important to establish clear boundaries with friends in workspaces because you want to always maintain a level of professionalism. Make it extremely clear what is acceptable and unacceptable. Many relationships have gone south because work friends mistakenly overstep boundaries.

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Avoid oversharing

As a rule of thumb, only share information with work friends that you would be comfortable with if they got out to others in the office. While you would like to think that your teammate is a person whom you can confide in, you don’t want to learn that they are not the hard way.

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Be aware of how the relationship affects productivity

Amazing co-workers can make menial tasks fun and the workday fly by; however, these friendships can also result in a significant decline in productivity.

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Be mindful about venting

It’s great when you can vent to a colleague about work-related frustrations, but you’ll want to tread lightly. The last thing you want is for your comments to become misconstrued and spread around the office.

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Steer clear of cliques

Forming multiple friendships at work is one thing, but workplace cliques can be highly problematic. Often times, cliques fail to socialize with those outside of their immediate friend circle. Not only does this make things uncomfortable for other colleagues, but it also stunts your career growth and can act as a barrier to new opportunities.

African American Professional Business Woman

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Be cognizant of the perception of favoritism

When you’re in a supervisory role, forming friendships with some of your employees can easily be perceived as favoritism by other staff members. While this shouldn’t dictate who you form relationships with, awareness is important.

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Consider how disagreements may impact your work

When forming a friendship, the last thing most people are thinking about is conflict; however, it’s important to consider how a conflict with a work friend may affect your job and team culture.

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Carefully weigh the pros and cons of connecting on social media

Often times, our social media accounts provide colleagues with insight into our lives that they may not otherwise have. If you’re more active on social media, before befriending co-workers on social media, consider whether or not you want to expose those aspects of your life to colleagues.

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Be leary of mixing friend circles

Another thing to be mindful of is introducing friends from your personal life to your work friends. While it might be fun to hang out with all of your friends at once, you should consider the cost of overlap between the personal and professional parts of your life.

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Avoid cycles of negativity

When you work in a challenging environment, it can be nice to discuss your struggles with colleagues who understand exactly what you’re going through. However, it’s very easy to fall into cycles of negativity where complaining about work becomes a past time instead of a coping mechanism.

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