Walking the Fine Line of Becoming Friends with Your Boss

Everyone wants to work in an office environment where they enjoy being around the people they work with.  Spending more of your waking hours at the office than at home is a bit easier when you’re friends with your coworkers.  However, establishing the right relationship with your boss can be challenging.  In today’s workplace many employees have to walk a fine line between being friendly and being friends with their boss.  Friends are equal, but boss and employee are not.  Ask yourself the below questions before becoming friends with your boss.

Will you be able to keep it professional?

Regardless of how good of friends you believe you are with your boss, you should refrain from sharing the intimate details of your personal life.  For example, don’t confide in him or her about your troubled marriage.  This could send mix signals if they are of the opposite sex and also make you appear unstable.  If your boss starts to question your judgment personally, they may also start to question your judgment in professional manners.  The same goes for discussing your boss’s personal life.  While they may feel comfortable enough to share, it’s best not to offer your opinion, which could influence decisions that they later regret.  Being friends makes it harder to not give each other personal advice.

Are you able to avoid gossiping?

In a standard employee-manager relationship, there are certain things you don’t discuss with your boss.  However, when you become friends with them, it’s easy to let your professional guard down and talk poorly about other co-workers.  Just remember, that no secret is safe in the workplace.  Unnecessary happy hour gossip, could lead to damaged relationships among other co-workers.

Will you be able to accept negative feedback?

Being friends means accepting each other’s strengths and weaknesses.   In the workplace, it’s the boss’s job to coach you thorough your weaknesses and sometimes give you feedback that’s difficult to hear.  Are you able to accept your friend telling you that you need to improve in certain areas, or that they are disappointed in your performance?

How will you feel if they pass you up for a promotion?

When you develop a friendship with someone you gain an expectation that to some degree they’ll favor you over people they aren’t friends with.  This expectation doesn’t always hold true in the workplace.  If your boss is a great leader, they’ll give the key assignment or reward to the person they think is the best fit.  That might not be you.  How will you react? Will it ruin your friendship? As much as we like to believe we can keep our personal and professional life separate, feelings still get hurt.  Being friends with your boss can affect decisions about both your career and theirs.

In terms of the relationship, boss should always come before friend in the workplace. It’s a great situation to get along with your boss that well, and you don’t want to do anything to compromise that.

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