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Can You Be Friends With a Co-Worker?

by William McCoy

Given that you can spend more waking hours with your co-workers than with your own family, it's common to develop a friendship with some people in your office. You might just enjoy going out to coffee with certain co-workers, while you'll consider others friends for years. Being friends with your co-workers can occasionally be tricky, but is often beneficial.

Workplace Policies

A workplace won't likely have written rules that prohibit co-workers from becoming friends, but some managers are more receptive to friendships in the workplace than others. Author Royane Real reports that in some offices, supervisors encourage employees to be friendly with their peers, while in others, supervisors might discourage friendships and even friendly conversations among co-workers. Check the atmosphere in your office; if co-workers are clearly friends, it's likely a sign that your supervisor approves.

Making Friends

Making friends in the workplace is similar to making friends outside the office; you'll naturally gravitate toward certain co-workers with whom you share similar personalities and interests. Career adviser Andrew Rosen recommends being yourself, honest, approachable and productive to help generate workplace friendships. As is the case outside the office, it's important to base friendships on trust and honesty; in other words, don't try to be someone you're not.

Be Cautious

"Chicago Tribune" columnist Daneen Skube stresses being cautious when making friendships with your co-workers. She reports that your work can suffer if you have too many workplace friendships and conversely, if you're too focused on your work, your friendships in the workplace can suffer. If you make friends with someone who isn't genuine, the co-worker might spread something personal about you around the workplace, which can hurt your reputation. Skube suggests focusing on friendships outside the workplace. "U.S. News & World Report" recommends keeping your personal life separate from your work life and remembering that you're at work to fulfill your job requirements.

Benefits

Making friends at work, even if you don't maintain the friendships outside the workplace, can help make your workday enjoyable. Although many managers frown on employees who spend too much time socializing at work, having someone with whom to enjoy your coffee break and lunch hour makes the day go better. Being friendly with your peers, reports the American Psychological Association, is an effective way to learn to work together, and it can increase your level of satisfaction with your career.

About the Author

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.

Photo Credits

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