Work allies make the workplace a friendlier and safer place to be. The support and alliances you have at work help increase your productivity, strengthen company culture and morale and make you feel more satisfied with your job -- until the relationship takes a nosedive, that is. Broken alliances can suddenly turn any workplace into hostile territory and damage the workplace. Alliances often succumb to the same workplace stresses they're supposed to protect you from.
A promotion strains relationships. Be considerate of the person passed over -- and muster a smile, if it was you. While it can be difficult to see a close colleague move up the ladder without you, work hard to keep your emotions under wraps and be supportive of the promotion. She might feel bad that you didn't get the promotion and feel guilty when she should be celebrating. If you don't share this exciting time in a positive way, you could damage the relationship. The promotion could be good for both of you.
All that juicy office gossip can quickly turn sour. Any short-term attention you enjoy from spilling the beans isn't worth the damage it could do to an office alliance. Tame your tongue and focus on getting attention from your own accomplishments and not at someone else's expense. Avoid getting swept into office gossip or politics by steering clear of the office gossip queen altogether. Even if you try to keep gossip about your ally hush-hush, it will quickly find its way to her ears. Refrain -- at all costs -- from gossiping together about a boss or alienating co-workers with your behavior.
A little bit of competition is good -- it can keep things fun. But too much, well, it is no longer fun. Try to share some successes jointly with your ally, so you can both feel good. Other times, support her and applaud her achievements. She'll do the same for you. While it's OK to compete, make sure you're both playing the game. If you aren't sure, ask her. Avoid bragging or belittling her when it's your turn to shine.
Breaking the Trust
Like a crumpled paper, trust never returns to its original form. Value the trust you have -- it's the foundation of your alliance. Avoid going over your ally's head or discussing her performance with someone else. Don't keep secrets -- unless they're part of the job. Share opportunities with her and be honest about your career goals and true intentions. Hold each other accountable, maintain boundaries and make sure the relationship's reciprocal.
- Forbes: Debunking the ‘No Friends At Work’ Rule – Why Friend-Friendly Workplaces Are The Future
- Lifeboat: State of Friendship in America Report, 2013
- CNN Living: Are Your Friends at Work Hurting Your Career?
- USA Today: Friendship and Work – A Good or Bad Partnership?
- Society of Hospital Medicine: The Pros and Cons of Workplace Friendships
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.