Navigating Friendships in the Workplace

Making friends at work can be a great way to widen your social circle and make work more enjoyable at the same time. However, there can be pitfalls to navigate around having friends at work.

Work Place Hierarchies vs Friendship

Of course it is possible to be friends with a colleague or boss regardless of your positions within the company but sometimes there are issues to consider. If you are a friend’s boss, it might be worth having a discussion with your friend about boundaries and your different roles as a friend and boss. Treat your friend as you would any of your staff. If you are friends with your boss, don’t expect favors just because you are friends. It will blur the lines of your friendship and can cause unease with your other co-workers. Communication and being clear with your friend/colleague helps to navigate potential misunderstandings.

Don’t Hold Yourself or Your Friend Back

As wonderful as it can be having a good relationship with your colleagues, it is not a reason to stay in a job that you are not happy with. Of course, it may be an important factor; who we work with makes a huge difference to the quality of our time at work, but it doesn’t need to be the only factor. Get honest with yourself if you find yourself holding back from moving on because of your work friends. It can also be difficult to say goodbye to a colleague you get on well with, but we cannot expect people to stay in a job for us. The real friendships will remain despite a change of jobs.

Keep a Balance

For some people, work is their life, including their social life. It is great if you love your job and your colleagues enough for this to be the case, but it is worth trying to keep a healthy balance and cultivating friendships outside the office as well. Doing this helps us to keep a healthy distance from work and makes us less reliant on one area of our lives for socializing.

Remember Professionalism

I’ve been fortunate to meet many friends through work over the years and I believe that creating positive relationships can enhance both our professional and personal life. However, the times I have seen things go awry with workplace friendships are when professionalism is forgotten, for example, the boss who is gossiping about their other staff with their friend/employee, someone getting far too drunk at the holiday party, or an ill fated relationship with a boss. Staying professional and keeping some boundaries protects your integrity at work. Employing a professional attitude makes it less likely that you will step over any boundaries with your workplace friendships as well. Whatever your job or career, appearing professional goes along way.

Having positive relationships at work can make everything go more smoothly and enjoyably if navigated properly. Communication, professionalism and clear boundaries go along way to avoiding the potential pitfalls that come with friendships in the workplace.

What has been your experience? Have you managed to navigate the pitfalls of being a friend and a colleague? What has worked well for you?

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