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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.