How to be a Good (Work) Friend

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October 23, 2017

You see them every day – well at least Monday through Friday – and they might be (or become) some of your closest friends.  Who you ask?  Your coworkers.  You might even see your coworkers for more days consecutively or more hours than your significant other, depending on your schedule.

Author Annie McKee, who wrote the book, How To Be Happy At Work, said “you can build friendships around the work just as much as you can around common interests in your personal lives”.

So how do you be a good coworker?  The main way is to be compassionate.  Show others that you care about them by listening to what’s impacting their lives both in and out of work.  Being a good listener is skill that can benefit you in all aspects of life.

Be observant of how people are acting so you can notice when something is a bit off with one of your coworkers.  Harvard Business Review shared stories of how coworkers rallied together to show their concern for their fellow employees.

Also, being a hard worker also helps you be a good work friend.  Respond to coworkers emails and calls promptly.  Just like in school, the golden rule of treat others like you want to be treated still applies.  Hubspot offers 13 tips for how to be a good coworker.

But even if you are best of friends with your coworkers there are still some topics that could cause a rift between even the closest of employees.

One topic you might consider avoiding is salary.  It’s not unlawful to discuss this info with your coworkers, but it can create an inequity or cause people to become bitter over time.

If you work with female coworkers, it’s best to not ask “are you pregnant?”.  Not only could this be a sensitive subject, it’s also an HR faux pas. Along those same lines, medical history is best kept to yourself.  Imagine if you work side by side with someone that said, “check out this itchy rash I’ve had for days!”  Best to keep those aliments to yourself.

You also don’t want to be known as the office gossip.  If a coworker does decide to confide in you, don’t share confidential information with the rest of the team.  Remember, if your coworker is willing to gossip about someone else, they might also gossip about you.

Other general topics to stay away from are politics, religion and legal troubles.  Once again, if you hone your powers of compassion and observation, they can help you decide when (if ever) it is the right time to share your views with coworkers.

Navigating these social waters can be tricky, but by focusing on these topics, it will help you keep your coworkers as friends for the long haul.