There are better approaches than just having no friends at work

    We get articles like this because we live in a world inescapably tied to neoliberalism and hierarchical ways of organising work. I’m sure the advice to “not make friends at work” is stellar survival advice in a large company, but it’s not the best way to ensure human flourishing.

    I’ve definitely been burned by relationships at work, especially earlier in my career when managers use the ‘family’ metaphor. Thankfully, there’s a better way: own your own business with your friends! Then you can bring your full self to work, which is much like having your cake and eating it, too.

    Image created by DALL-E 3 with the prompt: "An image illustrating the concept of maintaining clear boundaries at work. The scene shows a professional office environment where individuals of diverse backgrounds interact with respect and professionalism. A distinct physical separation, like a glass wall or a clear line on the floor, symbolizes the clear boundaries between personal and professional lives. The environment conveys a sense of order, efficiency, and a healthy work-life balance, emphasizing the importance of keeping these aspects distinct."
    Real friends are people you can be yourself around and with whom you can show up being who you truly are—no editing needed. They are folks with whom you have developed a deep relationship over time that is mutual and flows in two ways. You are there for them and they are there for you. There is trust built.

    At work, this relationship becomes very, very complex. Instead of being a true friendship, what ends up happening is that the socio-economic realities of your workplace come into play—and most often that poisons the well. When money is involved, it clouds any potential friendship. It makes the lines so blurry between real and contrived friendships that the waters become too murky to make clear and meaningful relationships. Is that a real friend, or do they want something from me that benefits them? Who can you really trust at work and what happens if they violate your trust? Is my boss really my friend or are they just trying to get me to work harder/longer/faster?

    If, instead, we keep clear boundaries at work, we never fall into the trap of worrying about whom to trust and who has our best interest in mind. It prevents us from transferring our best interests to anyone else simply because we assume they are our friends. Why give that amazing power to someone else at work only to be disappointed?

    Worse yet, people will often confuse co-workers with family, falling into the trap of having a “work mom,” “work dad,” or even a “work husband” or “work wife.” This can lead to a number of disastrous results that are well-documented, as family is not the same as work, and confusing the two has long-lasting ramifications that can stifle career success and lead to unethical behaviour. Keeping boundaries clear and your work life separate from your private life will help to alleviate this potential downfall and keep you focused on what really matters: the work.

    Source: Why You Shouldn’t Make Friends at Work | Psychology Today Canada

    Image: DALL-E 3