7 Dangers of Joining a Work Clique

two_shadows.jpgAs sure as sun on a summer day, relationships will form under the glow of fluorescent lights.  How else are you supposed to pass 40 hours a week of nothingness?  And while I’m the first to admit that amazing relationships can happen at work (what up E. Smith!) these bonds often have an us vs. them foundation – which in reality – is not a true basis for a friendship.

In my humble experience, many office relationships are rooted in negativity, which is a problem for everyone involved: you, your clique, the company, the industry, the universe!

However, there’s another risk associated with a work "buddy," and that’s a loss of your identity.  Before you rush off to lunch with the same co-worker(s) everyday, please consider the following.

They Feel Left Out.  There might only be two or three of you, but it’s clear that you are a unified team.  And when there’s a team, there needs to be an opponent.  In this case, that’s everyone except your "buddy!"  You see, the entire office feels that you have a secret – or worse yet – that you are sitting back making fun of them.  No one wants to be the butt of your inside jokes.  The closeness of your relationship has the rest of your cubemates feeling like outcasts – even though there’s more of them then you!  This means…

People Won’t Trust You.  Wearing your alliances on your sleeve isn’t good if you’re on a reality show and it isn’t good at the office.  People are going to be hesitant to share anything with you that they don’t want your "buddy" to hear.  Also, being "in-cahoots" with anyone lends itself to a notion of shadiness – which means you could end up…

The Office Misanthrope.  I know what you’re thinking, "but I don’t need these other people, I have my clique."  But what if tomorrow you "buddy" is gone?  Unexpected firings and life issues make the workplace a dynamic place, despite how static it might often feel.  And if you are "abandoned" you end up…

Looking Like a Hypocrite.  People will see right through your actions when all of a sudden you’re chatting them up in the hall and appearing at office functions. Even though they might be nice to your face, they know the deal.  Over time they will forget, but I’m a huge believer that there’s…

No Going Backwards in Relationships.  What if you partner up with this "buddy" early on and then decide that you want to try to distance yourself?  It’s very tough to bring space into a relationship after the "rules of engagement" have already been set.  It’s like when you were in the ninth grade and you saw your girlfriend for 16 consecutive weekends.  Then on the 17th, you decided you’d rather shoot hoops with the boys and head home to play Metroid.  Good luck!  Your mileage may vary, but there’s no doubt that you’ve…

Lost Your Individuality.  And that sucks.  Odds are you’ve got plenty of awesomeness to share with the world.  Don’t let a "buddy" coerce you into holding back.  Life is tough enough trying to live according to morals and standards that you feel comfortable with. You are an individual! Why risk being judged (or even praised) for someone else’s actions?  It never feels good.  It also sucks when…

The Rumors Start. There’s no place on earth impervious to gossip and the office is about as conducive as it gets for some juicy, image-tarnishing slander.  I don’t care if it’s two guys, two girls, a girl and a guy and a poodle – the rumors will start.  The Gods of Cubicle Boredom wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ok, so we’ve covered some of the problems of "partnering-up" at work.  Wondering if you’re guilty?  Here are some warning signs:

- you eat lunch together everyday
- you both get quiet when others come by
- people say things like, "where’s your other half"
- your boss comments on your partnership
- you feel guilty talking to others

As always, these blog entries are open-ended and eagerly awaiting your input! I’d love to hear whether you agree or disagree.   Bring your ideas to the party, and together, we can make work better!

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