“All lasting business is built on friendship.”- Alfred A. Montapert
A big fraction of our time in life is spent on work.
As you are likely to be spending time with the same people over time, it is inevitable that corporate friendships would ensue. These are the same people you spend time collaborating and brainstorming with and sharing lunch with and as such a semblance of cordiality and camaraderie would result. Some corporate experts would argue that befriending your co-workers is not exactly the best course to take in a company where competition is stiff, and the rivalry is intense as this can be to your detriment. However, it has also been proven that befriending your co-workers can be advantageous. In a sense, some of them may give you that necessary thrust in furthering the goals in your career trajectory.
Regardless of what the ramifications are of befriending your co-workers are, it is imperative that you at least be aware what the certain do’s and don’ts are when you choose to do. This is to make sure that whatever working environment you are in (whether you are working for a retail conglomerate or in a real estate web design company), you do not lose your professionalism when you are fostering office friendships. Here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind in befriending your colleagues.
1.) Do not avoid it
Every office setting is notorious for having that one particular aloof employee who resists any kind of intermingling activities. You do not want to be this sort of employee. Although the idea of having friendships in a professional environment can be a bit daunting, it does not mean that you have to avoid it altogether. Though you do not necessarily need to expect you and your colleagues to be hitting up bars on a Saturday nights, you should not be inflexible to making niceties and being cordial to them as well. One crucial thing to take note of about relationships with coworkers is that they are all networking, and more often than not, the success of your career is leveraged by how well you get along with other people.
2.) Do be inclusive
As it has been established that every relationship you create at work is a semblance of networking, it is rather pivotal that you do not damage any existing professional relationships. This invariably means that you need to be inclusive of everyone. Working, as it is, already presents a challenge. Working with someone who thinks they are disliked because they are often excluded is an even harder ordeal. Do not exclude others if you want to hang out as this is one of the fast ways to stir drama and issues in the office and leave you with a few enemies as a result. Invite every single person in your group and do not be selective about who you invite. An exception to this though is if the meeting is with your boss. Meeting with your superiors in a one on one setting is understandable if they are work related. Remember to keep the tone of your conversations with your boss at a professional level. Talking about your marital woes is probably not the best conversation starter for whenever you are with the,
3.) Do not force it
Like your friendships outside of the office, you should let your friendships with your colleagues develop naturally for it not to feel contrived. Bear in mind that you may wish to be friends with them, but this is not necessarily always reciprocated. There are some people who would not want to commingle work and personal lives completely and would not be as enthusiastic about making friends as you would be. When you are building these relationships, it is pivotal that you take note of this as you do not want your endeavors in making friends be the cause of your professional ruin. Above all, that is still and should be your priority. Do not corner your colleagues into hanging out with you by inviting them in front of the whole office. Instead, send them a friendly email or chat with them inviting them to an after-work drink. Bear in mind how your invitation was received and how receptive they are to the idea of hanging out. If they seem to have other plans after you have invited them out a couple of times, then take that rejection as a hint. Do not take it against them either, your coworkers probably just want to keep their professional relationships as just that.
4.) Do keep it classy
After-work hours may seem like an ideal time to unwind, but this does not mean you and your coworkers should be dancing on tabletops while being uproariously drunk. Having a single cocktail and contributing to a friendly conversation is way different from being a sloppy drunk while gossiping about other coworkers behind their backs. Liquor might be considered as the universal social lubricant, but remember to keep your inhibitions when you are with your coworkers. They may be your friends now, but none of them may necessarily want to stay as your friend after they have had to haul you home after you had one too many drinks for one night.
5.) Do not be too friendly online
If you are one of those post-happy individuals all over social media, you might want to double check on the things you have previously posted before sending a friend request to your colleagues. After all, you would not want your professional reputation to be tainted by some questionable photos. If this is the case, then you ought to filter the content your colleagues would see on your social media, or if this feature is unavailable, then the best course to take is to be extremely meticulous in what you post online. Remember, what you post on social media is a reflection of who you are. So, remember to be careful of what you share—your colleagues (and in some cases, your boss) can see it.
Fraternizing with colleagues and befriending coworkers is an excellent way to make your overall experience in your workplace better. But, do keep in mind that the dynamics of office friendships is a lot more different and a bit complicated compared to personal ones. With this in mind, it is imperative to be careful when crossing lines when navigating in an office culture. Let the dos and don’ts above serve as a primary guide in refining your approach when it comes to commencing office friendships. You might just not know it, but your colleague today could potentially be your bosom friend a year after.