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Friendship at work

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on 13 June 2008

Friends are often colleagues, but friendships born in the workplace don't play by the same rules as other relationships. They should be handled with care if you want to get the most out of them!

Did you know?
‘Friendship founded on work is preferable to work based on friendship,’ said John D. Rockefeller Jr. According to research, 20% of our friends come from our workplace, making it the second most likely source of friendship!

7 good reasons to make friends at work

1. On average we spend 220 days per year at work, so it’s better to get on well with colleagues (we see more of them than of our partners, children and loved ones).

2. A good relationship with your colleagues makes you want to do as well as them, so you move ahead with your projects.

3. It's so much nicer to know that when you stumble into the office in the morning you'll see a friendly face.

4. Not only do we spend a lot of time with colleagues: we may also share concerns, projects and common needs. When we talk shop to outsiders it soon becomes boring, whereas our co-workers understand immediately without having to be told the company history.

5. Our colleagues often have many things in common with us (same age range, education, priorities (looking after the children, balancing work and family, holidays etc.) and also different experiences (interests) so working friendships can be enriching.

6. The world of work can be unforgiving. Public reprimands, refused payrises and a bad atmosphere can make you glad of a shoulder to cry on in the toilets on those down days.

7. As time goes by, the fact is our circle of friends tends not to widen as much as in student days because we don't have the time and we settle down in friendships and relationships. Work is a great place to forge links with new people easily!

7 hints for good office friendships

1. Your friendship will come under pressure. Other colleagues may be jealous about your friendship and may spread malicious gossip - especially if it's a male/female friendship. The higher realms of management could not see the frienship in a good light.

2. You must communicate with your friend if you ever get worried about your friendship. Whether it’s an outside problem or a problem linked to work, it’s best to talk to avoid disagreements that could affect your professional and personal lives.

3. Be vigilant. Especially at the beginning of a relationship, avoid telling your colleague your whole life history and all your secrets until you trust the person completely. This measure will stop you from being betrayed or from getting in too deep in case you don't want to stay friends.

4. Think about establishing a few boudaries to protect your bubble. Introduce colleagues to your close friends and family gradually, and don’t always mix your work friends with your other friends. Each of you must respect the other's territory.

5. Friendship reacts badly to ambition. The relationship can be put under strain if you're both competing for a promotion, or if one of you becomes the other's superior. It’s not easy asking for the accounts or having to report back to a friend who becomes your boss!

6. Having one best buddy at the office can mean you become isolated from others. You might not even notice other colleagues who don't want to infringe on your friendship. Plus your long-standing friends may feel excluded when you start talking about the new takeover in a club at 2am on a Saturday night!

7. What brought you together can also drive you apart. It can sometimes happen that a close friendship falls apart after one leaves the company and you're disappointed when you realise you had very little in common outside work.

by Sarah Horrocks

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