Monday, December 13, 2010

Work Relationships and 'Real Life'

by Editing Working Girl

At my last job, most of the staff was either a daughter of our boss or close friends of either those daughters or of our boss. This led to drama galore. With everyone seeing each other constantly in and out of the workplace, non-work and personal issues were constantly being brought into the office, as did the gossip that goes with it. As soon as I got my new full-time job and put in my two weeks, I vowed to personally never let that happen to me in a future work setting.

I do have one close friend at work, and she is actually the one who helped me get my job. She has the office next to mine, and it is nice to have a familiar face around and someone to grab coffee with from the second floor break room, get lunch with or just sit and talk with when things are a bit slow. Though her boyfriend works at our company also, along with most of the staff hanging out constantly and being close, there is very little drama brought into work. This may be because we are all divided between the three floors, or into different departments, or everyone is just able to separate work from their personal lives. That or I am too out of the loop to notice the drama, because my coworker is really the only one I have allowed myself to get close to, mostly because of the vow I made at my previous job.

I do wonder, am I missing out? Is keeping myself at a distance hurting me? I have plenty of friends outside of work to hang out with. I live with my boyfriend and I consider him to be my best friend. I have a running group I meet with twice a week. Almost all of my best friends from high school and college are still some of my best friends today and I set aside time to call them and catch up (as they are over 1,300 miles away from me in California). With all of these groups of people I get to interact with daily, am I missing out because I don't want to let my work friends into my personal life?

Though we are all Facebook friends and they can see my Facebook status updates and photos and many can see my Twitter, I still feel like it is a nice barrier to have as they aren't directly able to have actually seen the whole night of dancing Downtown last month or my whole visit home with friends - they are getting to see the person I want to present myself as through that medium.

Do any of you Working Girls have this issue? Are you able to take the break room talk further and turn it into Happy Hours or Girl's Nights? Have taking work friendships outside of work caused professional drama? Have you ever mixed personal and work relationships and hung out with a big mixed-up group? I want to hear from all of you!


Angeline said...

I think I'm more like you, where I don't really hang out with coworkers outside of work. I am pretty close to my boss, but it's more like I can tell her stuff and ask questions than going to hang out. We rarely even eat lunch together.

One exception I made is a girl at work who just doesn't seem to have many friends outside of work. She is so nice, but she doesn't get out much (she's not from here, her husband is a homebody, and they live in a rural area) so I really make an effort to make her feel connected at work, and have even invited her to a few after-work things. But we don't talk about work after work, and we don't talk about our personal friendship at work. I think the separation is good.

Chicago Career Girl said...

I met some of my closest friends to date at a job I held from 2007-2009. And I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world. However, I agree with you, it did get messy. Dramatic, very blurred lines of professionalism. Even our CEO went out drinking with us at times. It was a bit odd.

My last position, I kept very professional. We went out for an occasional lunch, and knew each other's personal lives as far as family names, etc. But we weren't "BFF" - and I found I enjoyed work more with less drama.

I think there's a fine line - be friends, be friendly, and let people into your life. But keep your real personal life separate.

Jill said...

I don't have any work friends right now, they are all older than me besides 2 people I hardly see (who work downstairs). I had a close coworker friend about a year ago but she moved away. We were the same age and went out to eat and to bars sometimes. I didn't like that she would talk about drinking at work though. I'd like to have more work friends to go to lunch with!

lisa said...

I think it's okay as long as it doesn't get *too* personal. One of my coworkers and I talk about our mutual interests in blogging, Twitter, cooking, fashion, makeup, etc. We sit next to each other and we're chatty. We've gone to movies and cooking classes together. But things don't really go to such a personal level that we bitch about the awful things happening in our own lives. If you keep it on the level of pleasantries and niceties, there's no problem with having friends in the workplace.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't know how to take it past the break room talk but I wish I did!

I often find mixing groups can be hideously awkward, which is why I often do separate birthday celebrations for my different sets of friends.

nessabirdie said...

I kind of agree ... I think it's important, but I do feel like it is important to have a nice relationship with your work buddies.

I have worked in ResLife for the majority of my professional life and my friends tend to be the people that I work with. It always happens that way. But now, even in higher education, I see that it is the same way.

I never dip my pen in company ink when it comes to dating in the office ... but there is some temptation ... :)

P said...

I've had a bad time with my so-called 'work friend' ratting on me behind my back. A LOT. To date. Needless to say, she's not been my friend ever since. And it's been a LONG time now. But she persists in building up roadblocks for me.

Anonymous said...

I could have written this post! I try to keep my working relationships pretty professional - I'm okay with sharing some information but I try to keep distance between work and home. Mostly everyone in my office is a good ten years old than me, so that makes it a bit easier.

Katie Hartle said...

I like to keep my work relationships pretty professional- my only work friend at my last job was in the same office but a different department.
I also use friendmatch when I need a friend for workouts or whatever. (