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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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Published on March 25, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up. You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out.

But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

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Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

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Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

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Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

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Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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