Managing workplace friendships

The workplace is often a stressful environment, with deadlines needing to be met and work productivity needing to be high, relationships can be both a help and a hinderance.

A tight knit team can often produce great work, but when one part of that team isn’t up to the standard, or if you personally don’t get along with someone, this can cause greater stress on you, your team and the everyday workflow. So how to navigate this in a professional manner?

First, we must look at the differences between workplace friendships and personal friendships. Outside of your job, you get to choose. A circle of friends is often handpicked by you over many years. The circle can fluctuate with different people, as lives change and we grow older, but ultimately, they are the people you choose to spend your time with. This is not the case within the workplace. You are not able to choose who you work with, in whatever job you have, the people around you are picked for their experience and knowledge and so this can create groups of different tastes, opinions and styles, and sometimes this doesn’t work.

Finding a solution to any stressful work problem should always be of high importance.

Allowing issues to linger and sometimes grow, will create an unhealthy work environment that can sometimes explode.

The first step is to recognise what the problem is. If it is something to do with the actual work being done, often, this can be solved with a quiet, friendly discussion between the two of you. Most people will be agreeable in this situation and take on any feedback or issue you have. People will always be more willing to solve a problem if they feel they are equal within the conversation and not being confronted. Equally, if someone asks to have a talk with you, it is important to view this not as a confrontation, even if the manner of the person conducting the talk is confrontational, you should still maintain professionalism and above all calmness of mind, when being told something is wrong.

Being friendly, approachable and professional are the keys to successful work place relationships.

Lifelong friendships can and often do form through shared job experiences, but the workplace isn’t an equal setting, there are always hierarchies. This, in itself, can sometimes ruin the best of friendships and cause pain or stress. Two people going for the same promotion for instance must think, what comes first, friendship or career? Hopefully both parties will respect each other and accept whatever the outcome, but even then, lingering resentment can occur and is in fact quite natural. The key is to be able to handle your own personal feelings and respect your work colleagues as people first. This will lead to close bonds and a productive work environment. Workplace friendships are harder to navigate than those outside, and it takes an extra level of patience, understanding and openness for them to thrive. By doing so, it will create a calmer, more professional and above all, happier work place for all.

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