Striking a Friendly Balance at Work

Work is a great place to make good friends. In fact, having at least one good friend at work is pretty much required in order for us to enjoy our jobs. Friends also make us more productive. What’s more, having a good work friend also may be critical to succeeding in our careers.

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But it can be tricky, this whole “friends at work” thing: be too social and you risk earning a reputation of being a party animal. You want instead to be seen as professional and hard working.

Yet you risk taking that professionalism too far: you could be seen as a cold fish and unapproachable.

Take a look below for how to make good friends at work while keeping your reputation for professionalism intact.

  • Choose your friends wisely.

This goes without saying, but this can be tricky to do. For example, let’s say you’re the new gal and one of your new colleagues immediately asks you to lunch. You say yes and then at lunch he regales you with all the gossip and fills you in on all the drama. Or he whines and complains about your boss.

That could be a warning sign that this person is all about drama, gossip and not taking responsibility. Our advice? Be friendly, but be careful: you may want to keep your distance because while we bring our personalities and personal lives to work, work is for work not for drama, gossip and whining.

  • Be careful what you say about others.

If you gossip about others, sooner or later you will be known as someone who gossips. If you whine, you’ll be “the whiner.” If you talk too much about how a girlfriend wronged you, you’ll eventually be known as a drama king or queen.

  • If you go out with friends after work, you’re still “at work.”

What we mean is that you shouldn’t try go completely loose. What you do and say “with the gang” very well could get back to your supervisor. Relax and be friendly, but if people start to complain, whine, moan and gossip, pull back. You don’t have to leave, just don’t participate.

In a nutshell: be friendly and approachable. Ask colleagues to have lunch together or take a break. Ask questions (personal but not intrusive). Answer questions truthfully but remember: be careful what you say to others until you know for certain they’re trustworthy.

Reading the above it appears as if we believe you should make “friends” at work who aren’t really friends. After all, we’re advocating keeping your personal conversations close to the chest and not overtly personal, yet the only way to become real friends with others is by being vulnerable and open.

But if you do find one or two people with whom you just “click” and feel they are trustworthy (they don’t gossip, whine, complain and create drama), you can test the waters and open up more to them. See if they reciprocate and, if you tell them something personal, watch to see how they handle it. If they prove themselves to you, these are the colleagues who can become good friends. Close friends. Friends outside of work. Lifetime friends.

Ready to make some new friends in a new job? Contact Helpmates. We have many temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire job and career opportunities waiting for reliable and talented people just like you. Check out our current openings and, if one or more look interesting, contact us.

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