Colleague or friend? Well, your co-workers can be both, depending on the situation.

In our final post in the series of workplace related issues, we would like to discuss the importance of clearly defining the boundaries of your workplace relationships. It is quite possible for you to be working with someone you know personally, outside of the job. If you do, then you are already aware of the complications that can arise from letting the two relationships overlap.

Such a situation arises more so in the case of you working for someone that you know. From regular calls outside of working hours to ‘call in a favor’ or asking you to make up for the slack caused by others in your team, your friend-boss could be leveraging your personal relationship for the company’s benefit. Conversely, if your friend or relative is also your employee, you may be subjected to the more than occasional extra days off. Any of these situations could make your workplace a more stressful environment to effectively function in.

Additionally, if the individual you are working with is a romantic partner, this could further complicate issues. A break-up or any other relationship trouble could jeopardize your work as well as that of your team. The complications that could arise from such relationships are several in number.  These occurrences are quite common in the workplace. When the problem becomes too much to handle, it could result in one or both of you having to find alternate jobs because of the level of miscommunication that is the ultimate result.

The simplest answer to these problems is making sure that you clearly define the boundaries of each relationship with the concerned individual. However, that is easier said than done. While the task of sitting down with a friend and having this somewhat awkward conversation may seem daunting, it is important to remember that it will go a long way in helping your career as well as your mental health in the future. A clear discussion on what exactly each person’s roles in the workplace would be as well as an informal agreement about the demarcating lines of both relationships will be extremely helpful. This way, problems between the two of you at work will not hinder your ability to still have a good time together as friends and a personal disagreement will not prevent you from working productively as co-workers.

In order for you to enjoy your work environment, you could maybe ensure that the lines between your workplace and personal relationships are not blurred into a single entity. In addition to adding to the stress at work, this overlap between the two relationships may also put a strain on your friendship. The next time your friend-boss or employee asks you to bend backwards for the sake of friendship, don’t hesitate to sit them down and explain to them that they should delineate and demarcate your friendship, and the business you do as a team.

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Ashvita has just completed her undergraduate degree from FLAME University, a Liberal Education school situated in Pune. Having pursued a major in psychology and a minor in advertising and branding over the course of the last four years, she hopes to implement her learning from both these areas of study into her work.