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Friends at Work: The Ground Rules of Workplace Friendships

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In an ideal world, you love your coworkers, and you actually want to spend time with them. There’s no office politics, and everyone gets along well, including your bosses. You’re also well-compensated, and the office management values your life-work balance. But we don’t live in a perfect world. The truth is that you have coworkers you like and don’t like. You’re barely compensated fairly. Most of your time is focused on work that you’re missing out on a lot of family events and special occasions.

Even your lunch breaks are dominated by your coworkers. When there’s a lunch catering event in the office, you spend that one-hour lunch break with your coworkers talking about, well, work and a myriad of other things you see on social media. It can be exhausting to talk to the same people again and again, though not if you thoroughly enjoy their company. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see these people every day and still want to spend time with them after work or during the weekend.

Set Boundaries

It’s easy for things to become personal when you’re friends with your coworkers. It’s important to set boundaries. Do you tell them about your personal problems? Do you talk about money? Do you take them to family dinners? Do you spend time with them outside of work? While it is okay to be friends with your coworkers (it even makes you more productive at work), it’s also vital to draw the line when your friendship might affect how you work together.

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Avoid Office Gossip

All office environments engage in some form of gossip. People are going to talk about other people’s lives. There’s no going around it. When you are part of a group or an office clique, it’s easy to let loose and begin commenting on your other coworkers. Don’t do it. Don’t involve yourself in office gossip. You’re hurting other people. In the end, everything will backfire to you. Do you want your office friends to gossip behind your back, too? What’s stopping them from gossiping about you when you’re not there?

Be Inclusive of Non-friends in Work Projects

Naturally, you want to work with your office friends. That does not mean that they’re the only ones you should work with. While you can choose whom you want to spend time with outside work, that shouldn’t be the same when it comes to work assignments. 

When it comes to work, it’s important to get ideas from people outside of your immediate circle. If as a group you will all continue to work on the same assignments, won’t your ideas become repetitive? Let others infiltrate your group if you want fresh ideas and strategies.

If you can, be friends with everyone in the office, from the housekeeping to management. Friendships are born out of your common traits and qualities. And while you will certainly be closer to your teammates, that shouldn’t stop you from being acquainted with everyone. That will make going to work more bearable and less of a struggle.

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