This fall my mother can finally put her Home Depot card to work and turn up in her garden since after 35 years of working in one of Philadelphia’s major hospitals, she’ll be retiring. She’s been fortunate enough to work at the same company for pretty much all of my life (a rarity for us millennials). But in all 35 years of her working, I think I’ve been inside my mom’s job all of three times (one being to visit a sick relative who just happened to end up a patient there). I distinctly remember my mom telling me and my sister that she only kept pictures of our Yorkie terrier on her desk and rarely shared much about the big milestones of her family’s life such as graduations and college acceptance letters and more recently becoming a grandmother with her co-workers. As a teenager I often wondered why my mom opted out of Take Your Daughter To Work Day and why she didn’t have a display of me and my sister in graduation gowns across her desk. Was she ashamed? I didn’t get it until I finally started working professionally myself, and realized how important it is to limit what you share about your personal life with those you work with, not just for your sanity, but for your professional progress as well.
If you’re lucky, at some point in your life you’ll get to work with people whom you both respect and actually like. But liking and respecting someone isn’t the same as being friends with someone, and you won’t be friends with everyone you work with. Most times it’s for the best. If you’re too comfortable with someone boundaries can become unclear. In the worst case scenario, work can slowly slide down your list of priorities when you have a work bestie. You’ll be so busy planning your happy hour that you’ll forget to plan the board meeting and before you know it you’ll be bonding in the unemployment line.
Enjoying the company of your co-workers can be a great thing, but blurring the lines between personal and professional too much could have harmful effects on your paycheck. When it comes to the work place there are some conversations that are best left off the clock: