Monday, April 27, 2015

4 Pitfalls of Workplace Friendships -- and How to Fix Them

Most of us develop friendships at work, but sometimes these relationships go off the rails.

When that happens, it's often a slippery slope because having a disagreement with a friend at work can cause you professional problems, as well.

Andrea Bonior, a licensed psychologist, offers some potential friendship pitfalls and how to deal with them in her book, "Friendship Fix." Among her tips:

1. Your friend is using something in your personal life against you at work. "Privately convey to your 'friend' that you would appreciate it if she refrained from spreading around your personal business, and if push comes to shove, declare to whoever else is involved that you think the discussion to be inappropriate," Bonior suggests. At the same, be prepared to stand up for yourself and prove the colleague wrong by turning in a top-notch performance every day. "There's a good chance that your coworker might end up looking petty and untrustworthy if their information is irrelevant to your professional image," she adds.

2.  Your friend gets fired or laid off, and is now royally ticked at the company. This is certainly tricky because you still have a job and want to keep it, but you also want to be a supportive friend. "Keep in contact with him through lunches or phone calls outside of work, but try not to let his venom give you survivor's guilt: you can feel sorry for him as a friend, but you still need a paycheck," Bonior counsels. "Be patient listening to his woes without letting him force you to berate your company."

3. Your friend is trying to get you to join her crusade against something at work. The breakroom kitchen needs a new microwave! The boss is unfair and should be reported to HR! Whatever the cause, your friend is leading the charge and she wants you to get involved -- but you don't want to do it. Bonior advises you to gently tell your colleague/friend that you're not comfortable signing on, and "I know my unease with it would do more harm than good."

4. Your friend never met a charity she didn't like. It's a fact of life that you're going to get hit up for a charitable cause at work, but it can get to be a problem when it's your friend who is always coming to you for a contribution. Say "no, thank you," with a smile and a "graceful change of subject" as many times as necessary, Bonior says.

Any other colleague/friendship questions you've faced on the job?

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