We spend a lot of time at work, so it is only natural to develop friendships with colleagues and bosses. But workplace friendships are different from the friendships in our personal lives. And not understanding the difference between the two can spell trouble at work.

So how do you build friendships at work without damaging your reputation and career?

The honest answer is that it takes time and effort to build positive friendships at work. These key workplace friendship tips should get you started:

Be Social

The first step to making friends at work is to show interest in your colleagues beyond the immediate needs of the workplace.  Attend your organization’s social events like the Christmas party and the annual picnic, eat your lunch in the kitchen instead of at your desk, remove your earbuds in public spaces so that you look approachable, and make small talk when the opportunity arises. Being a productive employee is admirable, but don’t forget the social side of business. Friendship is based on trust. And no one ever trusted someone they didn’t know.

Resist the Overshare

Once you have work friends, be careful not to fall into the trap of oversharing. When it comes to most work friends think “friendly,” not “bestie.”  Also, think twice before you share racy stories about your personal life or make unfiltered comments about the other people with whom you work.  Not everyone wants to be burdened with keeping secrets. And not everyone can be trusted with sensitive information.

Once you have made personal connections with folks at work, it can be easy to fall into the trap of oversharing. This is a good time to remind yourself that even though you may be friends with a co-worker, it doesn't mean you can completely open up about your private life or your feelings inside of the office.

Avoid Gossip

Gossiping is another workplace friendship no-no. Unfortunately, some of the mean girls and boys from your schools days will continue their bad behavior in the workplace.  Be diplomatic when talking about clients and employees in your organization. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into negative conversations. Instead, follow the example of Former First Lady Michelle Obama and go high when they go low: politely change the subject or excuse yourself.

Respect the Limitations

Building camaraderie with colleagues can make you happier and more productive at work, but remember that in the workplace, work is the priority, not friendships. Be mindful of your colleagues’ schedules, and understand that a work friend may not always be available to interact with you because of her responsibilities.

Don’t Give Up

You’ve probably realized that navigating workplace friendships isn’t easy, but don’t give up. Like many workplace skills, it takes practice, but it can be worth the effort. Having friends at work can help you to develop the professional relationships that every successful career needs. And just as importantly, workplace friendships can make work more fun!

Learn More…

Stayce Wagner is the author of Modern Business Etiquette for Young & Fabulous Professionals, available at Amazon.comBarnesandNoble.com, and other major outlets. Stayce is the founder of Spencer Crane Etiquette, LLC, where business etiquette and authenticity are partners, not rivals. Our many services are designed to help you to achieve success on your terms. We invite you to contact us today to discuss how we can help you with your business etiquette needs.

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