On the Job

10 tips for healthy workplace relationships

Good news: you can be like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Okay, you might never be as funny as them (you won’t be) but you can have a work BFF. Those of us with friends at work already know how important they are for day-to-day sanity, but experts say having friends at the office isn’t just good for you, it also benefits your company, making you more productive, motivated and satisfied.

According to a Gallup Study, State of the American Workplace, friendships at work boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent; in other words, of those people who are feeling pretty good about their jobs, most of them have friends at the office – a fact Human Resources pros are keen to.

And good news to my fellow introverts, cultivating meaningful relationships at work doesn’t take excessive time or obligatory weekend outings, just intentional conversations that go beyond business as usual. Statistically, most people don’t want more friends, just deeper relationships which, according to research, can be successfully fostered in less than 45 minutes spent together each week.

Of course, there are some unfavorable possibilities that come along with being buddy-buddy at work; developing negative cliques, breeding of group-think instead of individual ideas and fostering unhealthy romantic relationships at the office are all factors every professional should be wary of.

To navigate necessary but sometimes tricky office relationships, consider these’s dos and don’ts.

Do

  • Talk about real life. You’ll only develop deeper friendships if you’re up for a little – but not too much – self-disclosure.
  • Get away from your desk. Instead of working right through lunch, take that time as an opportunity to invite a coworker out to lunch or at the very least to the break room.
  • Encourage and motivate your coworker-turned-friend when they encounter problems at work.
  • Keep your spouse in the loop on your office friendships.

Don’t

  • Use your newfound friendship to vent all the time. Everyone needs to “let off a little steam” now and then, but it shouldn’t characterize your relationship.
  • Over-share. Yes, to foster a real friendship you’ll need to do more than follow up on notes from last month’s staff meeting, but you should still avoid topics such as politics, money, and your sex life … duh. It’s also wise to avoid giving too much detail about issues with your family.
  • Exclude other coworkers.
  • Get into a romantic relationship with someone on your direct team. Definitely not a direct manager or direct report. Just don’t. According to Forbes – and most companies – not dating a boss or subordinate is an iron-clad guideline.
  • If you’re already in a relationship with a coworker or even married to someone at the office, stay professional at all times and remain focused; don’t let disagreements affect your work and keep the emails and texts from becoming flirtatious.
  • Hide details from your husband or wife. If you wouldn’t be comfortable with your spouse knowing what you and your coworker are emailing, texting or talking about, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it.
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