You probably spend most of your waking hours at work, so friendships are natural. Working together can easily turn co-workers into best friends, making jobs more enjoyable and the workplace a home away from home instead of a pit of boredom or an arena of stress.
• Limit social chatter. Everyone chats a little at work, but don’t let your friendly conversations overshadow your responsibilities. Stay focused on your job most of the time.
• Keep private issues private. When you have problems to discuss, do it over lunch or after work. You don’t want to make your co-workers privy to your personal dramas—and they probably don’t want to listen to them either.
• Avoid gossip. Most of us love to talk about other people, but keep your natural inclination to share rumors about co-workers or managers in check. If colleagues realize you’re gossiping about them, the backlash could be unpleasant.
• Don’t do each other’s jobs. Pitching in to help a friend in a crunch is admirable, but keep to a reasonable limit. Your manager is in charge of assignments and responsibilities, not you. You don’t want to spend so much time helping a friend do his or her job that you neglect your own.
• Include, don’t exclude. You may prefer the company of your friend, but don’t ignore the rest of your office. Invite other co-workers to lunch, and include them in your conversations so they don’t feel left out. You may even make new friends by expanding your circle at work.