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What’s At Stake When You’re Friends With Your Coworkers?

Being friends and being friendly can be polar opposites when you throw work in the mix.

The term “friend” is used very loosely these days, especially when you’re talking about being friends with coworkers. Some choose to cross the line while others keep it strictly professional.

What’s best for you in your situation? Here are some things you may need to consider.

Social Media

Time and time again, employees find themselves in the unemployment office due to social media outbursts. Keeping your personal business private is challenging when you’re connected to coworkers via social media. Let’s face it: There are certain details of our lives we’d much rather keep separate from work. You can share your deepest, darkest secrets without fear of judgment with your true friends. You probably hold back with your associates. Chances are, an associate is not the first person you’d call if you were evicted from your apartment and needed someone to help you pack up your belongings. Of course, it’s not impossible to find a friend at work, but you need to proceed with caution as people rarely show their true colors at work. Connecting with coworkers puts you at risk for unwanted drama. Think twice about sharing a post about what you really did that day you called out sick. Some of us dress completely different at work and home. Would you want your boss or nosy coworker catching a glimpse of your “grown and sexy” attire? And what if your boss discovered your favorite pastime was trolling the internet?

Gossiping vs. Venting

Don’t mistake someone who shares workplace gossip as a friend. You’re likely to become the topic of discussion if you push the right button. Even if you’ve shared every girl’s night out or social event with this coworker right by your side, it doesn’t mean she’s your true friend.

Having a sounding board is the benefit of having a close associate at work. She would most likely provide advice to get those much-desired kudos from your boss. Be mindful though, if she has an opportunity to steal your shine, she just may do it. Why not? She has no loyalty to you whatsoever outside of work. Not trying to rain on your parade – just keeping it realistic here.

Who’s the boss?

In the workplace, you’re always someone’s competition. Some manage perfectly fine when getting cozy with coworkers – until you’re vying for the same promotion. Suddenly, that confidante is in her feelings and may not feel you’re qualified to be in a position of authority. Being a true friend with a coworker can stifle your advancement. Your friend wants the job but you know you’re more qualified. Do you apply for the job and steal her thunder? Talk about stress. Can your friendship sustain the competition? How do you remain friends when you are no longer peers? How will she take it when you’re calling her out about tardiness?

A true friend would respect your position and tighten up while an associate starts her job search.

And if you become your friend’s supervisor, that’s another hurdle you have to consider. You may have to face the occasional favoritism allegation from other subordinates, too.

When you arrive at that fork in the road, the direction you take shouldn’t be decided upon recklessly. There can be pros and cons associated with being friends with coworkers. True friendship should be unconditional. Just remember, a friendly workplace association most likely comes with conditions.

Do you think it’s possible to be friends with coworkers?

Ashley Watkins, of Write Step Resumes, LLC, helps job seekers and career changers find the career of their dreams by creating the perfect resume, providing interview preparation and career coaching. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or via Click here to schedule a FREE consult today!

Originally posted on

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