This is a debate that can be heard in office buildings and in professional career networks across the country. How close is too close? At what point do fellow coworkers need to be seen as competition and at what point can we let them in as friends? This is not a strictly black and white type of issue, but one in which there is a lot of gray area and room for different opinions and personalities to take root.
The truth is people need people. Whether you are sitting on your couch at home, on a random bench in the park, or in your cubicle. There are times in our life and moments in our day when we just need companionship and conversation. And, with that said, there are many individuals out in the workforce today who do not have any “people” outside of their job. This place where they go 40+ hours a week to earn a living is also the place where they have the most conversations and invest in the lives of others, just as they are being invested in.
These coworkers become the faces that we see the most throughout the week with the stories that we hear all about. Should we make ourselves vulnerable enough that we allow them to become our friends? Or should we keep a strict and tall barrier between friendly conversation and actual friendship? We all know that the workplace is full of both good days and bad days. Smooth operations and sudden upsets. Parties and dinners mixed with budget cuts and terminations. That sounds like an environment where a friend would be nice to have around, right?
The decision to make a coworker a friend is a choice that is left up to you. Some would argue that it’s best to keep a distance between the people that you are going to be up against for the next promotion. Avoid the drama and don’t get to know your coworkers too well, or there will a lot of hurt in the future when changes are made within the company. On the other hand, others would argue that when you spend the bulk of your time cooped up in an office with the same people day in and day out, it is best to get to know them and enjoy your time together. The long days at work pass more quickly and the difficult projects are more tolerable when you really know the people that you are working alongside.
So, what’s the verdict? As you start your new job, will you intentionally get to know your coworkers on a deeper level? Or, will you learn their names and job titles and keep it at that? The choice is yours!