Many of you work at least eight hours a day and see the same people week after week. Therefore, it often makes sense to become work friends with fellow employees.
However, have you ever considered whether your work friends are your real friends?
There is a difference between your real friends, who will be there for you in your tough times or whom you enjoy inviting over to your house for dinner, and your work friends whom you hang out with for lunch or happy hour because you happen to be in the same building every day.
Work Friends Aren’t Necessarily College Buddies
It’s harder for young professionals to make this distinction because many of us become friends in school. You go to the class, meet new people and make friends. Some of them may think it is similar in the office as well.
Nevertheless, a work environment is much different than a school setting. It is more structured and has more rules. Only because you see the same people 40 hours a week doesn’t mean that they will be your new best friends.
Of course, there may be occasions when you really find a true friend at work but generally, it’s very rare. I recommend asking yourself a few questions to understand if this person is only a work friend or a true friend.
- Do you hang out with your friend outside of the office…and especially on the weekends?
- Do you know your friend’s other friends, outside of the office?
- Have you met your friend’s significant other?
- If you and your friend are up for the same promotion and s/he ends up getting the promotion, would you be happy for her/him?
- Should your friend quit work, would you still meet with her/him?
If you answered “Yes” to all of these questions, congratulations, you have found yourself a true friend at work! If not, it might be best for you to keep some respectful distance with your work friends. Here are a few tips.
Keep It “Friendly, But Professional”
- Set good boundaries. Don’t discuss personal matters with your work friends.
- Never, ever gossip. Don’t talk about others in the office, especially about your boss or supervisor. You never know…maybe this person seems like a friend to you but actually s/he is not!
- Don’t take everything personally. Remember, this is an office and you have to cooperate with others to get things done. Therefore, if you have a problem with one of your work friends, it is best to solve this problem immediately.
- Be consistently professional. No matter what happens, you should always be polite and professional.