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7 Unwritten Rules You Need To Know For Handling Friendships in the Office

7 Unwritten Rules You Need To Know For Handling Friendships in the Office

When you work with people day after day, you’re bound to make friends. If handled correctly friendships can make work so much more enjoyable, or at least tolerable if you’re in a less than desirable job, but there can also be some pitfalls if you’re not careful.

Some of these friendships in the office will outlive the job; others will not. In either case, office friendships are a valuable part of any professional network and can be a boost to your career if managed in a professional manner. If mishandled they can do a tremendous amount of damage.

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What You Need To Know

Beware oversharing

Share with caution. Take the time to get to know your co-workers a bit before divulging personal information and stay appropriate and professional even with those you trust. Have clear boundaries about what is “shareable” and what is not. Think “TMI” (too much information.) Family updates, hobbies, interests, educational pursuits, etc. are all fair game. Illegal activities, intimate details, and “resume exaggerations,” not so much.

Nix the complaining

No matter how well you know your “office friend” don’t gossip or complain about your boss. That’s a big no-no. It puts your office friend in a very uncomfortable situation and could be potentially damaging if your words ever reached the ears of the wrong person. Save your venting for your partner other personal friends outside of work.

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Maintain individuality

Be careful that your office friendships don’t obscure your individual accomplishments and separateness.  You still need to build and protect your individual reputation on the job. Especially in the beginning of your career, you need to shine and stand out from the crowd. Office alliances are part of the work culture, that’s fine, just don’t let your own contributions become overshadowed.

Watch the gossip

It’s natural and normal for people to show an interest in what other people do and say. It’s not necessarily all bad providing it isn’t malicious, but be careful. Gossip can cause hurt feelings and stir up trouble and office drama create enemies that you don’t need or want. If you stay positive in your office conversations, you’ll never need to defend your words or repair hurt feelings. It’s important to build a reputation as a person who is respectful and who can keep information confidential, not as the “office gossip.”

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Don’t play favorites

Try to collaborate with and get to know other co-workers, so that they don’t feel excluded. It’s nice to have a friend in the office, but don’t play favorites. Be very clear that you will not show preference or extend special favors, nor will you cover up mistakes or dishonest behavior and that you do not expect it in return. Remember that when you’re at work, you’re working. Don’t discuss personal situations or concerns at the office even if you have a personal relationship outside of the office. It makes other co-workers uncomfortable and blurs the office/home line.

Diversify friendships

Many of us spend the majority of time at work, it’s true. And the common interests and dilemmas we share with our office friends may draw us together, but having a circle of friends outside of work is important as well. We need to turn off our “work brain” and separate ourselves from work regularly to keep stress at bay. Our “non-work” friends can help us to do that. It also helps us to cultivate a variety of friends, broaden our circle of support and keep our lives full and interesting.

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Navigate office “breakups” professionally

It’s inevitable that for whatever reason, some office friendships, like any other, won’t last. When it happens, and it will, it’s imperative to remain professional. Be polite and courteous ALWAYS. No matter what has transpired, do not gripe and complain about your ex-friend to other workers. If the other party is petty and unprofessional, let it go. Stay professional and focus on doing your job. Don’t feed office drama. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress as well as demonstrate that you can handle conflict professionally.

Building friendships at work can be very rewarding in many ways. If handled properly with a professional attitude, they can add a great deal of enjoyment to your work experience, but if handled poorly, they can make the office an uncomfortable, stress-filled place and derail your career in the process. Don’t let that happen to you.

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Royale Scuderi

A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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