Thinking of going on a booze party with colleagues after work? Or are you upset because a colleague you assumed to be a friend has let you down? In both situations, you must remember that coworkers are not your friends no matter how much they pretend. What else do you need to remind yourself about workplace friendships and work-life balance?
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Why do people tend to befriend coworkers?
The fact that you have googled ‘Coworkers are not your friends’ means that something has happened. Know that you are not alone in this dilemma. As you spend the longest duration of your day at work, it is natural to interact with people. Loving your work and workplace is also important for your mental peace and professional growth.
So, trying to make friends is normal as most people fail to keep their professional and personal lives separate. Hence, getting back-stabbed is a common occurrence if you don’t have strict workplace rules. Scroll down to understand why your office is not the right place for emotional attachments.
10 reasons why coworkers are not your friends
Here are the reasons why you need to differentiate between personal and professional life:
1. You may end up sharing personal information
Friends are the people who love you unconditionally and you can confide in them. When you are friends with someone, you like to spend time with that person and talk about life.
So, if you have a work buddy, you will tell all your job-related concerns to that person. One vulnerable moment and you will find yourself discussing your married life issues with them. How can you be sure the person is not an office snitch under the guise of a well-wisher?
Besides, even if the colleague is a friend now, misunderstanding can destroy the friendship. Then you will regret revealing so much about yourself.
Hence, oversharing can have devastating consequences on your personal life and career. So, the best thing to do is not reveal your weaknesses on social media and in the workplace.
2. People are adept at faking friendship
Is this your first job? Irrespective of where you work or what you do – the office culture is the same in all sectors. You should be polite to all, keep your thoughts and emotions to yourself, and say yes to your manager’s suggestions.
If you observe, you’ll see that most of your coworkers always laugh at the lame jokes of the supervisors. They even give fake compliments to the boss from time to time. In such an environment, it’s difficult to differentiate between genuine friendliness and make-believe niceness. Hence, it is better to mind your business and carefully choose your words when you are chitchatting with others.
3. Your colleagues can be envious of your success
Healthy competition is fine and it motivates every employee to give their best. But you will find several employees who focus more on you and less on themselves. Getting jealous of another person’s success is a common trait in people, especially in the workplace.
The worst happens when someone behaves amiably only out of envy. People are so good at pretending that you might fall prey to their sweet nature. But what remains hidden underneath is a venomous serpent waiting to prey on you. So, beware of making friends in toxic competitive environments.
4. Some people are overfriendly as they have selfish motives
Everyone likes flattery, but in an office, people generally flatter someone to get things done. Are there people at your office who keep showering you with praises – be it complimenting your skills or appearance? These coworkers are not your friends as they only want to exploit you.
First, they’ll say good things and create a positive image in your mind. You won’t even realize when they start shifting their work to your shoulders. Do you want such superficial friends who have hidden agendas?
5. Someone might take advantage of your kindness
Things become complicated when you have opened up too much in front of someone. You cannot undo that now and neither can you turn down their requests blatantly.
While not everyone is devious, it is like some people to ask for favors. They think they can rely on you and then instinctively turn to you. In other scenarios, you can ignore them or say no firmly. But what can you do when that person brings lunch for you and accompanies you on your way home?
Then you will feel burdened to help them, neglecting your work. You will be stuck in a tricky situation as you like their company. You are already attached and you won’t feel like disappointing them. But if you abide by principles like ‘Coworkers are not your friends’, such problems won’t arise.
6. It becomes challenging to set boundaries
Being strictly professional with colleagues makes it easy to have certain boundaries. You know that you do not owe anything to these people. So, you can stand your ground if necessary. Now imagine having an emotional connection with a coworker.
One of the biggest disadvantages of friendships at the office is that setting boundaries becomes impossible. Can you divide responsibilities equally when your boss assigns a task to you and your workmate? You can’t say no to your friend’s face as this might hurt their feelings. You will not feel like starting an argument even when the fault is not yours.
7. You may get into trouble
When you have a boon companion at the office, at some point, you may be asked to cover for them. It can mean telling lies to your manager even if you hate doing that. For instance, your boss won’t give a day off to your workmate on her birthday. So, she decides not to show up and wants you to justify her actions. It will put you in an extremely awkward position.
You will be in a moral dilemma as you don’t want your friend to suffer the consequences of lying. At the same time, you do not want to risk your reputation either. If your manager finds out, your impression will be irretrievably damaged.
So, if you keep your colleagues at a professional distance, nobody will ever ask you to lie to them. They are individuals you only work with and that’s it.
8. You will be the subject of workplace gossip
Nothing’s more monotonous than doing the same work for 8 hours at a stretch. The dull office environment can be depressing at times. And when there’s no way to be entertained, people gossip to laugh and relax. It’s not that they are judgmental or spiteful. Some people gossip just for fun.
You do not know the motive when you confide in a person. They may be only looking for some juicy details about your personal life. Soon, those intimate details of your life won’t be private anymore. For this reason, keep telling yourself that work friends are not real friends. This mantra will stop you from saying controversial things.
9. Your work will be affected
Making too many friends in your workplace might affect the quality of work you deliver. That’s because not all people are good influences. Your buddy might constantly wish to chat with you and manipulate you to take frequent tea breaks. You too might remain distracted as you’ll be keen on having a fun time with your new friends.
If your workmate is sad because of personal/ professional reasons, they’ll expect you to drop everything and comfort them. Moreover, your managers won’t appreciate it when they see you are too busy forming and nurturing relationships during office hours.
This might impact your yearly increment and appraisal. Therefore, don’t forget that the main reason you are there is to earn a living.
10. You will be sad in that person’s absence
Lastly, having a true friend in the workplace can leave you heartbroken. In today’s world, people frequently switch jobs for a variety of reasons. If there is someone who makes the office a happy place for you, what’ll you do when that person leaves?
Then it will be challenging for you to stay positive in the same room where you have worked for years. You will have a hard time coping with the change. So, do not get overly attached to a single person for your mental well-being.
Truths about workplace you must not forget
If your career has just started, you might feel overwhelmed by what’s happening around you. Here are some things that seasoned employees know and so will you.
Perception becomes the reality
It is a common saying that you should work in silence without caring about the outcome. However, in your office, this rule might not apply. While you must do your work dedicatedly, you also have to be visible.
You also need to be mindful of the image you build of yourself. If your colleagues see you as a naysayer who wraps up at 5, that impression might not go away. However, that does not mean you should overwork and neglect your family life.
Open doors are not always open
When a boss encourages you to speak your heart out about a specific matter, should you listen? Irrespective of how broad the smile on your boss’s face is, you should still frame your sentences cautiously. Bosses might come across as open-minded, but they don’t like when employees oppose their decisions. So, if you want to suggest something new, you have to be extremely careful.
Couples get targeted
Finding the love of your life in your workplace is not something unnatural. Many people date their colleagues but it has its pros and cons. In the initial stage of your romance, the entire office will be interested in your relationship. People will irritate you, make naughty comments, and tease you unnecessarily.
So, even if you have fallen for someone, keep things between the two of you. The moment one colleague finds out, your relationship won’t be a secret anymore. Then you have to deal with other people’s interference.
Another issue is that if you part ways with your paramour, going back to the same office will be stressful.
You might live in the illusion that your workplace is different, but every organization has some irreplaceable people. While some managers are subtle about rewarding their favorites, all aren’t. So, if you can be in the good books of your manager, your position will be secure.
Coworkers are not your friend quotes
Here are some quotes that define our topic of concern a little better:
Just because you hang out with them doesn’t mean they are your friends.
We meet our colleagues 5 to 6 days a week, but that doesn’t make them our friends. You still need to confide to your friend who might live thousands of miles away, but will never forsake you.
Not everyone you work with wishes you well. So, finish your work and rush home.
Minding your business both at work and out of work is a skill that can pay you back in bounty. Simple do your thing and then go back home to the people who really love you.
Beware of snakes with whom you share every day hand shakes.
The witty quote suggests that people are two-faced and can sometimes give you a deadly bite. What you need to do is beware of the people around to protect yourself.
keep personal and professional relationships separate or there will be problems you generate.
The generic thought-process helps us separate differentiate between who are our friends and who are colleagues. Don’t overshare with people who can use sensitive information to get back at you.
have lots of coffee at work, but never spill the beans.
Another witty quote here suggests that it is okay to drink coffee with work buddies, but not to gossip with them. While office politics is something most people indulge in, it can backfire any time in the worst possible way.
Life is dull without close friends who will stay with you through thick and thin. So, while you should not trust a colleague too easily, it also doesn’t mean you can never find a buddy in a coworker. Yes, all coworkers are not friends, but there can be exceptions.
So, the wisest thing to do is take things slow and listen to your brain. You may find a like-minded individual who makes the workplace more bearable for you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. It is OK to not be friends with coworkers?
It is impossible to get along with everyone at the workplace. Some people are intolerable and you don’t have to push yourself to befriend them. Simply be courteous and avoid them politely.
2. Why are coworkers not your friends?
The office environment is such that finding genuine friends can be hard. Unlike non-work buddies, workplace friendships get intertwined with your job life. So, it is better to concentrate on your work and not get too attached to someone.
3. Are workmates your friends?
The biggest truth that you must remember about your workplace is that coworkers are not friends. You may hang out with them and share your food daily but don’t get deeply involved. An ex-workmate can become a long-term friend only if you both continue to stay in touch even when you aren’t colleagues anymore.