Why You Should Be Friendly at Work, But Not Too Friendly

By The Intersect Group

Where do adults tend to make friends?

While our parents and grandparents made friends by belonging to the same fraternal lodge, bowling league, coffee klatch, PTA, church, book club, etc., now we mostly find our friends….at work.

Many of us are simply too busy today at both work and home to even have time for outside groups, hobbies, let alone getting together with friends. In fact, back in 2019, the “average American” reported that they hadn’t made a new friend in more than five years!

What’s more, we tend to have fewer friends as we get older, usually because we’re busy making our way in the world and taking care of our children when we’re not working.


So when do we “have time” to make friends? When we’re at work!

After all, while we may not have a lot of free time on the job, we’re literally surrounded by people with whom we interact in person every day (probably not now, of course). Interaction can – and often does – lead to friendly relations, if not true friendship.

While some of us report having no friends when at our place of work, others have said that having “friends at work is the most crucial element to a happy working life.” Another study found that respondents said they would be “more inclined to stay at their company longer if they had friends.”

Many work friends can become close, but only at work. It’s pretty common for someone to leave an employer promising to remain friends with colleagues just to see the friendship fade over time.


Work friends often are different than friends made outside of work.

Work, after all, is not college. It’s not home. It’s not your kid’s community soccer league. We have to be “professional” in our interactions with others. It’s simply not a good idea to get “too personal” with colleagues.

Here’s why: work is where you want your colleagues and your boss to see you as hard-working, focused, and professional. You want to grow and be considered for promotions and raises.

You want, in other words, to be taken seriously. But if you’ve shared highly personal things with colleagues and if you’re emotions run high at work as you discuss these highly personal things, chances are good that the hard-working/professional reputation you’ve been cultivating could take a dive.

In fact, it may be best if you look for personal friends outside of work while being professionally friendly – yet not too close – with coworkers.


In other words, beware the drama

We will discuss in another post how to deal with colleagues for who work is just another opportunity to gossip, share intimate details of last night’s date or nasty boyfriend/girlfriend fight, etc.

But if you want to be taken seriously at work, steer clear of the drama kings and queens. Don’t become one yourself. Be friendly but professional: don’t overshare.

If you feel one or two colleagues, in particular, could become a good friend, ask to get together some time for lunch or after work. Tread lightly: ask personal questions but keep them professional. You’ll soon enough find if this person is an over-sharer, a gossip, a cutthroat, or someone who could become a professional ally as well as someone to spend time with away from the office.

In short: there’s nothing wrong with making friends at work. In fact, doing so can bring you great enjoyment while on the job.

Just remember: while at work, be at work and conduct yourself accordingly.


Up next in our series on “What you didn’t know you didn’t know about getting ahead”

 The dangers of dating colleagues.

Basically: tread ever-so-carefully. So carefully that it’s actually best to never date coworkers!

In the meantime, if you’re looking for the chance to find a new career opportunity, make sure to check out The Intersect Group’s latest assignment and job openings. And, if you have any questions or concerns, contact us!