job search lands you in a company where you find yourself getting along with one or two particular officemates more than any of the others. You may enjoy the finance analyst’s company, or you may share common interests with the admin assistant. You find yourself spending lunch breaks, coffee breaks and off hours together. Your relationship goes beyond professional.
Now, you may wonder, is there anything wrong with being friends with officemates? For the most part, no, there’s nothing wrong, but you have to understand that there are limits to what you can share, and there are pros and cons to office friendships.
First, set the limits. When talking about personal matters with your officemate friends, these are the things you should keep to yourself:
• Your salary, and other matters having to do with money
• Your health concerns
• Problems that have to do with your family
• Details of your job performance reports or reviews
Remember that you’re officemates first, friends second. You have to know where to draw the line when talking about your personal life (and certain aspects of your professional life).
Once you’ve defined these limits, you can enjoy the benefits of your office friendships:
Work becomes more pleasant. You actually look forward to going to the office, because you know you’ll be with people who appreciate you.
Communication is better. Friends have a way of understanding each other more than ordinary officemates. This makes miscommunications and misunderstandings less likely to happen.
You have an outlet to vent your emotions. A friend is one who listens. When you have someone you can turn to when you feel angry, frustrated, depressed, annoyed, or any such emotion that needs venting, it becomes much easier for you to get over the negative feelings and get back on track.
You’re able to express yourself more freely. During work-related discussions, being with friends gives you a feeling of freedom to express your opinion without fear of disapproval or ridicule. You become more relaxed, and consequently more open.
On the other hand, there are certain things you have to aware of to make sure that your office friendships don’t get in the way of your work.
Your professionalism may be affected. Too much small talk or joking around will take away from your focus on your job. Place a limit on extracurricular activities and don’t lose sight of your responsibilities.
Others may resent you. When you stand up for each other more than for other officemates, your actions can be interpreted as political maneuverings. Treat all your coworkers equally, friend or not.
You might get too close. As you get closer to your officemate friends, you might get to the point of being too open for your own sake. Keep in mind the list of things you shouldn’t reveal about yourself.
As you can see, these issues are things that are well within your control. From this, we can safely conclude that the benefits of office friendships far outweigh the drawbacks. It’s just a matter of knowing how to manage your office friendships and bearing in mind that no matter what, professionalism should always come first.
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