Office friendships are great at helping deal with office stress, but it is imperative to tread this path with caution to avoid its negative impact, writes Tania Ngima
It has been said that having a friend or two in the office reduces the daily stress that accompanies the workplace and may even make people more productive.
Too much socialising at work, however, impedes productivity and increases the risk for inappropriate disclosure of confidential information.
The rules governing workplace friendships are different from those in other settings, in that if push came to shove, one might have to choose between the friendships and earning a living.
There tends to be a lot more at stake, especially in highly competitive work environments. It is, therefore, important to consider a balance when choosing and maintaining workplace friendships.
When something we consider unfair happens at work, the first instinct is to start complaining, usually about our bosses, to the people around us. And while this may be a good way to let off steam, it is important to remember that not everyone at work may have your best interests at heart and your bitter complaints may reach your supervisor’s ears.
Instead, choose someone outside of your office environment if you need to vent. The same goes for personal problems. While there are people who might be genuinely concerned for you and willing to help you sort out your, say, marital issues, there are some people who will only be too happy to be the rumour mill.
If you have any info that you would not like to hear making the rounds in the office, then keep it to yourself.
While it may be easy to befriend peers at work, avoid forming cliques as these may lead to exclusivity or negativity. Always make the effort to interact with everyone, especially your direct juniors, without singling any of them out. This helps avoid favouritism, but it also fosters a good working spirit as these are the people you rely on for results.
As tempting as it may be, avoid being involved in conversations that involve your boss, juniors, peers or even clients and suppliers. A few things said in the heat of the moment could come back to bite you and leave you in a lot of trouble.
This is especially so when there is a contractual relationship between these parties, for example clients, as they can take legal action.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are being asked to make a personal comment on an individual, state that it is not your business and you are reluctant to discuss co-workers’ personal lives. Though this may be harsh, it will ensure that you do not find yourself in the middle of conversations you would rather not have.