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Friends at work: Good, bad and ugly

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Breakfast club starts at 8:30. Lunch crew takes off at 11:45. How would you get through the work day without your buddies?

One Gallup Poll survey noted that 38 percent of respondents said they met most of their friends at work. That's not surprising, considering how much time you spend at the office. It's just natural that you'd build strong friendships.

And while liking the people you work with can make the workday more fun, keep in mind there are going to be good days, bad days and an occasional ugly day.

The good

Work hard, play hard: Friends can often make your workday less stressful and more enjoyable. They are around you when you might to need to blow off steam or just float an idea past them. If they are a true friend, they will push you hard to be your best.

Then, after the work is done, they'll be there to celebrate your successes.

Keepin' it real: When you've got an idea, it's always easier to run it past a friend who'll give you their honest opinion. You don't have to feel embarrassed about brainstorming ideas and just blurting things out.

A true friend will laugh with you when it's silly or help you expand upon a great idea. Keepin' it real at work will make you a better employee.

You complete me: Who understands your workplace better than a co-worker who's a friend? Sure you can talk to your spouse, roommate or significant other about work, but do they really grasp the dynamics of the office? Probably not!

Not only will the friend understand the personalities and little quirks that happen in office, but they will identify with you and where you're coming from.

The bad

Whatcha doin'? It's easy to pop over to your friend's cubicle to see what's going on. Check your watch... you might think it's just a few minutes, but before you know it, you could find you've been chatting for a half-hour or more!

Friends can be a huge distraction and make you less productive. Save idle chitchat for lunch breaks or after hours. You'll be viewed more positively by your boss and your peers.

Hey, that's mine! You're always happy for a friend when they get a promotion... right? But what if you are both up for the same promotion and only one can get the job. What if one gets praise and the other doesn't? Does jealousy set in? That's normal.

We're all competitive by nature and want to do our best. When we lose, it's hard not to feel cheated. With friends, you'll need to realize you both have your own set of qualities and circumstances that make you good employees.

Boss or friend? The most difficult friend relationship at the office involves a boss and his or her subordinate. While you may find it rewarding to work together, it becomes uncomfortable when the employee doesn't perform to the boss' liking.

There's just not an easy way to tell a friend he really isn't meeting expectations in the job. It's hard to say "You're a great friend but you're just not performing at a high enough level at work." Ouch! That will hurt the relationship so tread this one carefully.

Make sure you establish the line between business and friendship to preserve both relationships.

The ugly

Breaking up is hard to do: It's never easy to break up with someone. It's even harder when it's someone you have to interact with everyday. If it's a friendship that's been more than platonic, it can be downright ugly.

Of course, you can take the long way around the office to avoid her cubicle or find a new lunch buddy. However, there will come a time when you will need to interact with this "old" friend.

As a professional, you'll need to suck it up and figure out how to work together in the workplace.

If you are not able to co-exist, it could affect your performance and can put you in a bad light with others in the organization.

Having friends at work can be a great experience. Many companies are even trying to foster more cohesive work environments by hosting team-building events to strengthen work relationships. Some are tearing down office walls to encourage communication and collaboration.

Don't, however mistake these initiatives as an open invitation to socialize all day. Keep your friendships in check and remember... you are at work to work!

© Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority
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