With Saint Patrick’s Day right around the corner, some of us might be preparing for a night of celebration with friends or with family, or perhaps with a group of coworkers who are planning to dip out at 5 and hit the nearest watering hole. Whichever the case may be, being responsible and staying safe always apply when going out for a night on the town. Yet, possible and hidden dangers emerge when socializing with coworkers. Today we will be talking about how to strike the right balance with your friends at work.
First let’s talk about the positives. Many of us spend as much, or possibly more time at work on a weekly basis than we do at home, so it comes as no surprise that we tend to form friendships with our coworkers. The nature of these friendships could range from simply being acquaintances who perform the daily niceties, to friends while at work, to friends who spend time together both inside and outside of the workplace.
Having friendships with coworkers can help ease the day-to-day stress of your job, and may also serve as a motivating factor to get to work on time every day. When people get along in the workplace, it tends to boost morale while also giving employees more reason to enjoy working for whichever company they work for. Further, when the pendulum of the work/life balance is swaying a bit too far on the “work” side of things, having friends at work can lessen the burden. By now we all know that having a fair work/life balance can reduce stress and mitigate any physical or emotional ailments associated with it, so this can be a good thing.
All of this is totally natural and healthy…until it isn’t. There exists an invisible and unspoken line between work friends that should never be crossed, and it rests somewhere near the realms of venting and too much personal information. While It seems like a good idea to vent to your coworker about a project or other frustrations, it can be far too easy for a venting session to turn into complaining about another coworker or your boss…worse yet, the owner of the company.
Even if you trust your work friend, there exists the possibility that they can innocently relay the details of your venting session to another coworker, and then the negative information about you is out in the open just waiting to collide with the wrong person. If you think that’s bad, just imagine if you confided in your work friend about a wild story from your past, and that got back to your direct superior. Not a good look.
There is also the more obvious problem where if you’re spending too much time socializing with your coworkers, you’re putting less time into getting the work done, and let’s not forget – that’s the reason we are at work to begin with. There is nothing wrong with stopping by a coworker’s desk to say good morning, or with going out for lunch together, but it is imperative that you make sure you’re spending most of your time being productive.
Perhaps the real challenge begins when you start socializing with your coworkers outside of the workplace. With an event like Saint Patrick’s Day, it is especially important to stay on your toes because people tend to feel a bit loose with their thoughts and words after they’ve had a drink or two. Just keep the conversation light and positive, and have fun. You don’t need to engage in any type of conversation that you feel could potentially come back to bite you in the proverbial rear end, and you certainly do not have to share any personal information with your coworkers. If a higher-up invites you to a social event, you should probably go because declining can come off as rude – just remember to follow the same principles mentioned above.
Having a friend at work can be a positive thing. Work friends can help each other with projects, make the time go faster, and can even boost morale and productivity. It is important to always remember that your work friend was a coworker first, and a friend second. Once you draw that distinction and stay in line with it, you’ll be just fine.
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