Not long ago, someone posted online, “If your only friends are your co-workers, then you have no friends.” I started thinking about different jobs I’ve had and the office dynamics attached to each of them. And while my co-workers weren’t my only friends, I most certainly considered them friends.
Some things can’t help but be true when it comes to the people we work with:
- They are who we spend most of our time with
- They’ve shared and listened to stories, asking for and offering advice
- They’ve seen us under stress that other friends have not
Easily, based on those three things, we can see that you can be friends with co-workers. The question becomes, should you? Only you can answer that question, but here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to cultivating friendships at work.
Slow and steady wins the…friends.
It takes time to get to know people, what they like and don’t like, how certain situations make them feel. Don’t expect to decide a co-worker is going to be a friend and that it happens instantly. You may not even notice that you know enough about them and could call them a friend now.
Think back to the playground when groups of people would start hanging out together. If you weren’t in the group, it probably felt a little lonely. As social beings, nothing has changed. We still like to feel connected to other people. (We should know, it’s what we do!) Be mindful of your effort to grow your friend pool so that you are not leaving anyone out. Try to accommodate hangout sessions for folks with families or that live far away.
Remember you still have to work with them.
While they may see you pre-coffee every day, your co-workers are still just that – people you have to work with. Hanging out until 2am sharing deep dark secrets, then expecting to be in the office the next morning ready to take on the day just might not work. Will the things you share affect how you work with the person in the future? In case, create clear boundaries that won’t blur the line between friend and colleague. It’s easy to get close when working on a project or small team, but what happens when that is over?
It’s hard not to get friendly with people we work with on a daily basis. They see us through our best and worst moments, during mornings and Mondays. How have you created sound relationships with people on your team?