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Coworkers are Not Your Friends

I know that a lot of you are going to disagree with me on this, but your colleagues are not your friends.

At least most of them aren't.

Rant Alert

This post is going to start off with a good rant, so maybe go and get yourself a tea... because my friends, there will be tea.

I do want to caveat to say that I'm not saying that you can't make friends and work, but the thing is even the people that you're really close within your work are likely, they're contextual.

There is something that I think a lot of professionals forget about when they're at work, and I think that this is something that is totally natural. It's really easy to fall into this because when you think about it, you're at work the vast majority of your waking hours, most days of the week.

In fact, there is a very good likelihood that you see your colleagues more than you see your own family on a week to week basis - and especially when you have one of those really close-knit office cultures. When everyone's up in each other's business, it's really easy to cultivate artificially close relationships. You're going through so many of the seams things you have so much common ground, but the thing that starts to blur where the professional line ends, and where the personal line begins.

Remember why people are there at work.

The vast majority of your colleagues are there because they need (or want) a paycheck or they are there because they are trying to build success for themselves professionally.

Trust me, if neither of those things mattered, they would just be volunteering or staying at home on their couch with some bonbons and some Dr. Phil (or is that just me?).

If someone is there to get the paycheck, they might not be personally invested in that company or in the people that they work with.

If the person is there to climb the corporate ladder, they might be so invested in their own success that they are willing to throw their best friend, their mother, cousin, their sister, whoever under the bus to get there. You don't want to be someone who gets caught in that pathway.

With all in between, every workplace has its gossip, and one of the ways that you become ensnared in the gossip is to be talking about yourself and things that don't have any place in a professional setting.

Even though you spend all of your time, and maybe you have happy hours with your colleagues, and you have your team events there will come a time that one of you is going to move on. And it's going to be exceptionally rare for that person to stay in your life in a meaningful way.

If you ever watched Fight Club, you know the reference of his single-serving friend. A work friend is just basically a single serving friend who has multiple servings.

Does it mean that that person is going to fall off the face of the earth if you no longer work with them, and never speak to you again? No! But, you're probably not going to speak to them all the time. You're probably not going to see them all the time. And yes, there are exceptions, but trust me, you probably know the difference between the exception and the rule.

But should treat those real authentic and life-changing friendships that can be formed at work as the exception rather than the rule.

In fact, I actually believe that more of the relationships that you have at work are likely to form into those really substantial personal friendships when you follow these three guidelines:

Know where to draw the line

I'm never going to be one of those people that advocates for you being totally closed off all business all the time / super professional / don't talk about your personal life at all.

No, you work with these people every single day.

You probably want them to know a little something about you. You probably want to know a little something about them as well.

Ultimately, you are going to have to navigate for you where the lines are between your personal and your professional life. You also need to learn where the lines are for the people around you.

Keep it superficial

Run the things that you share through a filter. Does this make me look professional or unprofessional?

(Psst you should DEFINITELY watch the video to play the Pop Quiz)

One of the biggest mistakes that I see professionals make is oversharing information that makes them look unprofessional and even sometimes immature.

There's a few conversations that I really discourage you from actually having at work. If you genuinely do have friends at work that are legit friends, have the conversation but not in the office, not at the coffee station where someone's gonna over here at. Take it outside the office and far from earshot of bored and over interested colleagues.

Things that involve your dating life outside of a committed relationship (unless it's a wildly hilarious bad Tinder date story that is at worst PG), anything involving money (whether you have too much of it or not enough), squabbles that you're having with your parents, any drama that you're having with your friends, your significant other, your dog or any information about your health that isn't necessary for everyone to know is probably something that you should not be talking about at work.

I know that sometimes when one of those things goes wrong or you're experiencing that stress, that it can be really challenging for you to maintain a positive attitude at work and for you to bring your best to the office so that you can stay engaged, keep your colleagues liking you and all of that fun stuff.

But it is really important for you to practice this because it is something that can really have a dramatic impact on you.

It's better to under share than it is to overshare at work.

Say no to drama

I know that I have offered this advice in almost every post this point, but there is a reason for it: not enough take this advice! I'm going to keep on saying and to you until I know that every single one of you grabs onto it because it is something that is going to make a huge difference.

There is good gossip at work where you are staying in the know and there is bad gossip that is talking about other people or even worse, making yourself a topic of conversation by engaging in the vicious gossip cycle.

Break the cycle.

When you are not talking about anyone else, no one is going to talk about you. Even if someone does talk about you, you are going to have so much good karma built by not talking poorly about other people, that if someone is saying something to your colleague,

Part of how you are going to avoid being a topic of gossip is to follow the first two guidelines. When you respect that these are professional relationships in your life are not your BFFs, you're not going to be giving them fuel to be talking about you.

It also requires you to not talk about them.

Listen, you can be the most judgmental person in the world, you can think whatever you want about your colleagues, but do not tell any of your coworkers.

Go and tell your friends outside of work. Text your parents. Talk to your college roommate about it. Do not share your opinions about your colleagues at work.

know that some of you have seen people do this and they appear to escape it unscathed. However, I guarantee you that it does catch up with them.

Now, that leads me to a question...

Are any of your good friends in real life friends that you've made at work? Let me know in the comments down below.

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