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Alexander has been contributing for THS for over a year! While he attained a major in communications at SFU, he also recieved a minor in Psychology. Despite those accomplishments, Alex has also never had a full cup of coffee (crazy right?!). Alex is a lifelong sports fan and will defend his Seattle Seahawks to the death, especially if faced against a 49er fan. While Alex's long-term goal is to become a marriage counsellor, he also has a strong passion towards writing that he looks forward to exploring.

Can You Truly Be Friends with Co-Workers?

Photo Credit: Universal Studios

Photo Credit: Universal Studios

One of the strongest indicators of a happy work life might be dependent on your relationship with co-workers. Even the best of jobs can become unbearable if you detest your boss and co-workers. While the importance of being friends with your co-workers may matter more depending on the type of job you have, if you work in an isolated setting like a cubical, you may not find yourself interacting with your co-workers.

On the contrary, when you work for a job such as a moving company, you may find the constant interaction with your co-workers is the only thing getting you through the day. In an op-ed piece written by Adam Grant for The New York Times, Grant explores how Americans are spending less time with their co-workers as friends. This inference doesn’t imply Americans hate their co-workers, but that they’re less likely to buddy up with co-workers in contrast to someone from overseas.

No matter how awful your job is, if you love your co-workers then there’s always something to look forward to. The annoyances of work are lessened dramatically when you are able to share the experience with friends. It can also be beneficial to have a support system around you that understands your work frustrations. They know that the boss is annoying, but they may also have techniques that have helped them.

You may also find it easier to ask co-workers for assistance if you feel confident in your relationship with them. Nobody wants to bother someone who they think hates them, but if a buddy-buddy system is built, then bring on the confidence and questions! This goes a long way to making you feel proficient at your job as you learn things more efficiently. Confidence and workplace morale sees an increase when you show you’re also able to help fellow friends when they need assistance. Grant makes a similar point stating friends who “share more information and spend more time helping—and as long as they don’t hold back on constructive criticism out of politeness, they make better choices and get more done.” There is much less value in working with friends if you cannot trust them to be honest. Everyone makes mistakes, but being their friend should make it easier to point them out politely, not harder.

It may seem fantastic to grow closer with co-workers, but we all have lives outside of our co-workers. Sure, it’d be great to have beers with them, but do you want to do it all the time? It might feel awkward around work if you have outside activities that your co-workers would enjoy, but you don’t invite them. Instead of forcing awkwardness at the office, you might feel the pressure to include co-workers even if you would rather they didn’t attend.

It can also become incredibly problematic if you start to develop romantic feelings for a co-worker. While there are advantages, there are much stronger downfalls to dating someone you work with. Just because you have romantic feelings, doesn’t mean you work well as co-workers once in a relationship. Many might find it draining to have all of your social, work, and now intimate life all having a connection to your place of employment. If relationships does not end smoothly, it can also cause a significant conflicts at work.

It is hard enough having a relationship end, but even harder when that may jeopardize your career. If it’s a job you’ve worked hard to attain, make sure it’s worth potentially altering if your relationship ends. While some co-workers can go back to being friends, it is rare and may make getting over the other person incredibly hard.

It is clear through Grant’s article that Americans are the ‘least friendly’ in contrast to other countries in regards to their co-worker. While it was once ‘normal’ to get one career and stick with it, we no longer look at jobs that way. People are expected to have several work places, careers, and different connections are formed all the time. If we’re always looking at our jobs with one foot out the door, it may not seem surprising that we don’t form deeper connections with co-workers. Nothing wrong with that, but it can definitely limit your willingness to open up your friend circle.

As we are living in a society where technology is making it increasingly easier to stay in touch with old friends, we are always granted some form of constant connection. With society allowing older friendships to become more accessible, it can seem less intriguing to try and form deeper connections with co-workers.

There can be no arguing that a healthy co-worker environment can lead to positive results. Grant highlights companies like Google, who actively create a work environment conducive to fostering friendships. It is a lot easier to become BFFs with your co-workers if you have the dining hall, and amenities that the Google campus offers. Remember the importance of constructive criticism when it comes to co-workers, especially if they’re someone you consider a close friend. If they make mistakes, work together to fix them because as a team you will be more efficient then alone.

It’s only natural to be friends with co-workers. Given the amount of time you spend at work, it’s natural to like them. But it is important to always keep in mind the advantages, as well as the disadvantages that come with having a work relationship, in addition to considering the impact of our societies push for constant careers, and what that does to sever our pre-existing work relationships.

What do you think? Can you be friends with your co-workers? Let us know in the comments below.

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