It could start so innocently and yet end so terribly. A budding work friendship can help make the day go by faster and create a sense of camaraderie in the workplace. But work friendships can be harmful to your career and create unnecessary tensions in the workplace.
What can go wrong? Consider your answer in the realm of “just that.” It’s just that you are going to lunch. It’s just that you broke up with your boyfriend the night before and need someone to talk to. It’s just that you need money to pay a bill. Or perhaps that it’s just that you need a walking buddy. There’s nothing wrong with developing a friendship at work, but in order for them to flourish, boundaries need to be set in order to prevent common pitfalls.
Consider Them an Associate, Not a Loan Officer
Never borrow money! A small IOU is ok, if you have established a relationship with this person and pay back immediately. No one wants to be avoided because they appear to be a lunch leach.
Prevent Diarrhea of the Mouth
You’ve had a run in with your boss and are seeing red. Instead of channeling your anger, you head right to your buddy’s cube and give him or her an earful. Not a good idea! Those comments you make could bite you in the butt if you aren’t careful. Friendship at work is fluid. Those who are enemies one day will be pals the next day. Plus, you never knows who is hearing your venting session and next thing you know either the whole office knows about it or your boss is calling you on the carpet about it.
Personal Means Just That
Don’t discuss your personal issues at work. Keep the things you talk about lighthearted and simple. The danger of letting your work friend know that you are going through a financial situation may cause a judgment that you are not prepared to deal with.
Keep It In Perspective
Don’t forget the reason why you go to work. Whether it’s to get paid, get experience in a particular area or just plain because you like the field, you are there to complete a job. A close work friend of mine always says. “It’s a bonus to make friends with the people you work with, but it is not necessary.” Point blank, we are all at our jobs to work. Don’t let a good or bad work friendship take your eye off the ball.
There are some work friendships that can become real life friendships that go outside of the current work environment. But before you encounter the happily ever after in the friendship world, set some boundaries to protect yourself and your at work friend.