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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Socialising in office

It is a fact employees spend major part of their waking hours with their collegues and coworkers,so it is but natural for them to build strong friendships with some of their co-workers.

As an employee you form close bonds at the workplace because you share common values with your coworkers, have a strong sense of affinity, similar experiences and even share the same work goals and aspirations. Always remember that you are an employee first and then a friend.

Some companiesfrown at the thought of  deep friendships among co-workers.

Your tendency to focus more on your friends at work could cost you a promotion and the management  might think you come to work to socialise rather than really do your job.

The company will not take you seriously, especially if you let your friendships get in the way of  executing your responsibilities, for instance your collegue commits a serious mistake and you fail to report it because of your friendship.

So it is necessary to know, where to draw the line between friendship and a professional relationship.

As Janie Fritz, Associate Professor of communication and Rhetorical Studies at Duquesne University says," Work is work, we are hired to do a job and as long as that takes priority, friendships can emerge naturally, be very constructive and enjoyable".

Your friendships at work are scrutinised by the management, so it is better to be selective about the friends you make here.

Your boss might not like you spending time onnon work related  activities with such persons or if one your pals has productivity issues, then your own output may be under scanner. Besides, forming close friends at the workplace,  puts you at the risk of being taken advantage of by them. They may ask you to fill in for them, help with tasks, do some part of their work or make reports. And it is difficlt to refuse, because they are friends.

Trust is important, all the more in workplace friendships,  because you tend to share both professional and personal secrets with such friends and unless they are worthy of the trust, there is the risk that they may divulge these secrets and this can at times hurt your career. So you must know where to draw the line,  when it comes to divulging  secrets, or spreading gossips and rumours. It may get you and your friends into trouble.

In these days of Twitter, and Facebook, use your discretion in deciding, which colleagues will be on your friends list. And modify your privacy settings so that your bosses and colleagues do not get to know too much of your personal life or post details about you which can get you into trouble.

Office frienships also influence professional equations especially if you or one of your friends gets promoted. this change in the status quo can cause friction in workplace relations and can affect performance reviews and other aspects of teamwork. If you have been promoted andlet your friend get away with less or shoddy work, others could also accuse you of favouritism. Similarly, if your friend has been made the team head, and you are close  to him, coworkers will tend to think you are playing up to the boss.

Another risk in such friendships if if your friends fall out with you, there is the risk that they may turn vindictive and reveal the secrets you shared or could start bad-mouthing you to the boss. Another issue is if your friends are in trouble and could lose their jobs, they expect you to stand up for them even if they have done wrong, this can create a moral dilemma for you and even put your own job at risk.

The best thing is to maintain the right distance in such relationships. This means consciously spending less time talking on personal matters and sharing more work-related issues.

This ensures less alienation in the relationship and few chances of trouble at work. The best way is to maintain proper space in workplace frienships. You and your friend/s should learn to keep personal and professional lives separate to form a long asting relationship.

Courtesy: Hema gopalakrishnan from The Hindu dated Nov.4,2009

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