Five Ways to Manage Workplace Friendships

Ah, workplace friendships. We know them all too well. You spend every waking hour of every work day with your cubicle mates and chat at the water cooler so at some point the lines between friends and co-workers may begin to look a little bit blurry.

According to Lindsay Olson, blogger at U.S. News & World Report, it’s important to keep your business and personal lives separate. She writes in the piece, “Keep your personal chat reserved for your breaks and after work. You want your other co-workers to still take you seriously as a professional, and getting too chummy on the job might get in the way.”

Next, it’s important to go slow. Trust is a big factor here and for a friendship to blossom and work out outside the office, you’ll need to slowly let the other person into your life. Need proof? She writes, “So you don’t want to embarrass yourself (i.e., going overboard on Tequila Tuesdays) or reveal too much about your personal life (maybe you’re thinking about a career change) and have it come back to bite you.”

Although it’s rewarding to forge friendships at the office and certainly infuses the day with more fun, it’s important to remember why you’re there. As in the whole paycheck thing. Don’t let friendships thwart you from focusing on the job, your numero uno goal of each day.

As hard as it may be too resist, one of the ultimate ways to maintain boundaries is to resist complaining about your boss. In the piece she writes, “It’s almost a natural instinct to complain about work to a friend, but realize that a workplace friend makes that a treacherous path to travel. If he or she is friends with or connected to your boss, your venting may cause problems for you in your department.”

Negativity never serves any good anyway, especially if you end up transferring to another department or it gets out of hand. Just like gossip.

Lastly, it’s important to keep boundaries intact. Not all friendships work out (similar to how budding office romances may fizzle); remaining focused on your work situation will instill much needed distance between you and your colleague. Her advice? “Socialize with friends outside of work to balance out the time you spend with your work friends.”