Relationships at Work - Fact or Fiction?

When you spend 30-60 hours a week with the same people, you are likely to develop relationships with them (either friendly, romantic, both, or neither). Make your workplace interactions work for you with Modern Manners' Guy's tips.

Richie Frieman
5-minute read
Episode #261

...That is when the clique turns into a closed circle where no new members are welcome. This is something that will in fact breed isolation and alienation and should not be allowed. When you do form your core group of friends at work, don’t maintain a members-only policy. If you happen to be heading out to lunch and pass a fellow coworker or the new guy in the hallway, invite them along. If you are going out for someone’s birthday, ask if anyone else would like to join. This way you won’t get a reputation for fostering bad morale that will likely follow you all the way to HR.  .

Tip #2: Romance at Work

Coworkers cannot become notches on your belt. This is highly unmannerly…and pretty much makes you a jerk.

Let me make one thing clear: There is nothing wrong with dating people at work. Many of us work 30-60 hours a week and there is no doubt that those hours are often spent in a close group. Developing stronger feelings for one another is practically inevitable. Also, I’m a hopeless romantic. So if you think the person you pass by in the cafeteria at the same exact time each day may be the person of your dream (ah, fate!) – then I say go for it. However, coworkers cannot become notches on your belt. This is highly unmannerly…and pretty much makes you a jerk.

Guy or girl, being the serial dater in the office is sure to land you in hot water. If you work in a company of 2,000 people and date a different person every few months, I think you’re Ok. But if you work in an office of 20 and do the same thing…well, that’s a whole other ballgame. I get that you are simply searching for Mr./Mrs. Right (or Right Now) but there comes a time when you have to look at your record and ask yourself, “What am I doing?”

Nothing good can come from getting a reputation as someone who “dates and skates.” If you find yourself falling into a pattern of dating colleagues, you need to take a break from the office dating pool. Before hopping into an office relationship really evaluate what you expect to gain from asking someone out. Are they on the same page as you are? Did they just get out of a relationship? Are they known to be "clingy" whereas you're more laid back? These are important points of contention and if you figure them out early, will save you a lot of trouble in the end.

Tip #3: Valued Relationships

Making valued relationships in the office, that last past the 5 o'clock hour, is important. You can never have too many friends and there is nothing wrong with being nice to people. Shocker! As I said in Tip #1, your office friends can - and mostly will - become a big part of your personal life. And as in Tip #2, sometimes a little more. With that, you have to really take stock of the relationships you develop with your colleagues because they will become more than just casual interactions. Yes, the majority of them will just be people you see from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. However, there are those special few who you might join the "friend for life" category.

For me, I have many work friends that go far beyond just people I chat with in the elevator. One friend I met at work was a groomsman at my wedding! As well, I know of handful of people who met and got married, while working at the same company. These are examples of properly valuing office relationships and letting yourself be open to those around you.

It’s wrong to consistently close yourself off to people you see on a daily basis. Not only does it look like you don’t want to make friends, it looks like you don’t need them either. We all need friends, let alone loyal colleauges to lean on for support, advice, and a well-timed favor. And let me say that you don’t have to become “besties for life” but appreciating those around you is key to personal and professional development.  When you leave a job chances are you may run into a former colleague at some point in your career, and it never hurts to be able to give that person a hardy handshake or even a hug hello, rather than having to say, “Do you remember me? We used to work together.” That can be awkward.

Do you have a great story about an office relationship?  Post all the details in the comment section below. As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

You can find more tips on building workplace relationships in my new book, Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your CareerIt's available for pre-order now and goes on sale at your favorite retailers on September 17!

Coworkers image courtesy of Shutterstock.