Work is Work.

This is going to be a strange post to read, because there isn't all that much I can actually say on the subject. Ideally I would like to be able to get on here and blurt out the details but I can't do that; firstly, it's not my story to tell and secondly, because of the ever-present worry of having unwanted people reading.

I'll keep it short and sweet instead, and hopefully you'll get the rough idea of where the topic is headed. Bear with me on this one, folks. It's about work.

I think that no matter what profession you are in, there is a boundary between work life and personal life. And I think that it's bloody hard to separate the two.

In all of the jobs I've worked in, from selling shoes to squeezing juice to teaching kidlets, it's always been the same for me. The insecurity of being on the outside, of not having relationships or friends within the jobs, it can sometimes take over, especially when you're starting new to the job. Who can honestly say that they enjoy being the outsider? I wanted to get to know people. I wanted them to get to know me. I think it's fair to say that most people go into the workplace with similar ideals. It's the same for people who have been in their place of employment for a while, as they tend to become more comfortable with their colleagues.

Even if you don't become friends-for-life with the people you work with, you still form acquaintances. You talk, albeit about mundane things. But sometimes you can disclose personal information to them, whether accidentally or by choice. And these days, it seems as though any information that is shared in confidence with your colleagues can come back to bite you on the butt, placing your very job position in jeopardy. Today's rant comes after hearing about a family friend who is suffering career hardships after her work 'friends' decided to get nasty.

I guess it all comes down to trust. Again, none of this has been about me in this particular circumstance, but I could easily substitute myself into the equation. It could happen to any of us. All that I know is this: I'm going to be starting a new job in a new country in the new year. And from this day forward, I think I'm going to make a big effort to walk along that line between work life and personal life. Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against forming relationships with colleagues, but when it comes to my personal life? I'm going to be very choosy with what I share, and to whom I share it too.

Have you got any thoughts on the matter? Feel free to share them.


35 Comments • Labels:  

35 comments:

~Kathryn~ said...

love you
i agree - be acquaintances only !!!

Kat said...

In my old workplace I had work friends and private friends. I never ever mixed them. Work was work and private life was kept private. I am with Kathryn on this one. Aquaintances only.

mooiness said...

Am in consensus with everyone's view so far - I don't become friends with people from work since I've started working in offices. This is unfortunate but necessary when politics abound and image is all important.

The only time that I've formed friendships with colleagues was when I was working in restaurants, and when I was running one. I don't know about bigger restaurants, but in smaller ones, the people are more tight-knit.

Julz said...

I try not to share too much information about myself mainly because, they're work people, and not people that I associate with outside of work. I don't want them to know everything that's going in my life and basically, they don't need to know.

And also, where I work, is also where a few friends of mine worked. And then there were issues within the friendship group, and it got really weird working together. While most of us tried to keep things civil and professional, one didn't and told all our friendship issues to anyone who'd listen. So yeah, things got ugly.

So yes, I totally understand the whole keeping your personal life private and out of the workplace.

Amanda said...

Yes I am with you, however, I do sometimes catch myself blurring the line, at which, I need to remind myself of the possible consequences.

I have had office romances before and it's shit. Your reputation gets tarnished because people like to gossip.

The more offices that I work in, the more detatched I become from becoming "friends" who confide in each other, but rather engage in the usual chit chat. Much safer.

Unnaturally Blonde said...

I completely agree with you. It has taken me a good two years to figure out who I can really talk to and who I can't. And I hate to admit that I have really been burned by a few people after opening up to them. I feel for whoever is going through this and hope that things get better soon!

enny said...

I'm not sure. I work with people that I consider friends, people that I would definitely keep in touch with when working at a new place. One of these friends is very VERY guarded about talking about anything personal, and it does seem odd, like overly protective...?!

Michelle said...

i agree it is really hard to separate the two, especially if you form friendships at work. but at the same time the best place to make friends when moving to a new city (or country in your case) is at work. so it sucks really. as long as you use your best judgement with what you share with coworker friends, i'd say it's safe to form said friendships. in my opinion :)

Ree said...

It's very difficult for me, as I have little in the way of boundaries. In part, I started my blog because of it. I figure I'll be looking for a new job soon, and I'm hoping that my writing takes the place of my talking!

:-)

natalie said...

I think it's a good idea, but it will be hard. sucks that you have to be careful like that. really, it does! Luckily I have yet to work in a profession where something could come back and bite me, but soon I will have to start being more careful.

Marianne said...

It's hard when you want that connection but you either can't make it with your coworkers or you're afraid to trust them that much. I totally understand that.

I don't think I've become such friends with coworkers that they know a dangerous amount about me. I am, however, so stupidly honest that I probably offer too much when asked. I don't know. It's a really tough balancing act.

Operation Pink Herring said...

when I was younger, I couldn't imagine not being friends with coworkers -- I figured if you spent 40 hours a week with them, you HAD to become friends. It was just the way things worked. And when I was in high school and college, working during the summers, it was true. There was no line. we worked together, we drank together, we skinny-dipped together, we drove each other to work hungover in the mornings.

Even at my first "real" job, I was good friends with my coworkers. We shared a lot and thankfully it never came back to haunt me because they really were friends.

Now - people know that I have three cats and a boyfriend. that's pretty much it. What I do in my free time is noneof their business, and frankly I don't want them knowing how much TV I watch, what kinds of books I like or what I did over the weekend. It's totally separate from my real life. It's strange.

Kristabella said...

My first job out of college, that I had for almost 6 years, I am still friends with all those people, including my boss. It was totally awesome and I was convinced it was like that at every job. It's not.

It is hard to walk that line because you spend a good chunk of your week with co-workers. But sooner or later, it will come back to bite you in the ass.

Our old Exec. VP said that people usually only stay at a job if they either like their boss of they have that one co-worker they can confide in. It is hard to find those at work.

Candy said...

When I was younger, I made most of my friends through work, so we had a sort of conjoined social life. Everyone knew everything (including my boss, who is still my best friend, who knew I was having an affair with a married man).

In this new job I have, at 46, I am never going to be friends with any of these women, and I have plenty of friends of my own. (Just LOOK at my Blogroll!) I don't share anything. But I listen a lot. It's a unique exercise.

-R- said...

I work at a very big company, and I have a lot of good friends here. But I am really only friendly acquaintances with the people I work with directly. I don't work directly with any of my friends.

I like what Kristabella's old Exec VP said. When I have not had anyone to confide in, I have really disliked my job.

Katie said...

My boss at my last job was very much the kind of woman who I could really open up to and she did the same with me. She even came to my wedding. She is the only person that I've ever worked with, however, that I've had a personal friendship with. Usually I keep the two very separate.

She Likes Purple said...

I think it's always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to work. Regardless of your job, it's best to withhold more than you disclose. It can be hard, when you work in a casual environment, to remember that above all it's work. And above all, these are your co-workers, even if they're also your friends.

And everyone (mostly) cares more about their position than yours.

Nilsa S. said...

Sometimes it is hard to say "acquaintances only" ... what if you genuinely like that person and would clearly be friends outside of the workplace? Should that line be crossed, I think it ever important to keep the friendship away from the workplace. A past co-worker and I drew lines of our friendship at work ... it was non-existent and we were merely co-workers. When our personal life took on some hardship, our work life was no worse for the wear. So long as you establish boundaries, you can have both.

Julie said...

I think that the title of this post sums it up.

Work is work.
Unless you are at a position for a while and truly know the people you work with you should always be on your toes and watch things that you say.

Although, I am very very very opinionated and speak my mind, so I should learn to practice what I preach LOL.

grungedandy said...

I think it depends on what kind of work you do, how old you are, where you are in your life and what position you hold in your job!
I’ve worked in bars part time and still have at least one really good friend that I’m still in contact with from those days, I’m also in contact with my very first boss, we worked hard as a team and I was very young so we made a bond but as the years go by the bond grows weaker. When I worked in construction I had a whole team of mates (mostly boys) we would go out have a laugh and fun we shared a hell of a lot I was the soul of discretion on many an occasion and it was really painful when I got made redundant and they cut me off with out a goodbye I never saw or heard from any of them again, only 1 person remained in contact from the group of over 30 but that friend was a true friend But she’s now gone back home to South Africa!
Mostly I have had people I can talk to at work acquaintances, we share some interests but I know we won’t be a life long best buds that happens rarely and usually after I’ve left the job if it happens at all. This job I’ve got now there’s no one and it’s very lonely! My friend recently got premoted to partner in a law firm she’s the youngest so the others are a little on the old side but the people she used to hang around with won’t really talk to her anymore cause she the boss now so she’s so lonely she’s got to wait till next year before they promote anyone else, if they do, to get anyone of her age or nearer and even then she might not like them! It’s true it’s lonely at the top!
But I don’t think you’ll have a problem finding friends, if you’re half as funny & vivacious in real life as you are on the blog you’ll be fine. Just find a club or two in your local area to join and you can meet with your neighbours and you’re bound to find some friends among them! Plus I’m here! And will try and make myself as available as possible without sounding creepy! LoL. Seeya hugya *G*

Noelle said...

It all depends on the people, I think. Sadly, some of my co-workers read my blog, so they know way too much. I know that I love this job because there are people here that I'd want to keep in touch with after I leave this job. My old one, not so much.

brandy said...

This is a tricky situation and one that I can relate to! I think, for me it all comes down to individual people. If I went and said 'I'm not sharing anything personal with a co-worker', I wouldn't have made some of the amazing friends that I have made. Although, sharing with a co-worker has never brought me anything bad, so maybe this will all change if (and when? dear I hope there's never a 'when'!) something horrible did happen as a result of sharing.

lisa said...

This is very true.It could have happened to me. I made a comment to a work friend that got back around, misconstrued. Anf I found out later that the person tried to keep me from getting another job. It didn' work, but I've learned never to trust co-workers fully.

Laurel said...

I work in a totally chill environment and it can be so difficult to keep personal separate from professional. It's so important, though. Fortunately, when something sad happens to me, I sort of cope by clamming up at work. I may tell too many personal stories, but I don't fall apart at work. At least that's something, right?

rye said...

It's such a fine line, isn't it? On the one hand, there are times when you're so frustrated and want to vent about the job. And it's tempting to want to talk to someone else who "understands" because they work with that other person/situation/etc., too. But in the end, it comes back to haunt you.
Agreed - work is work. That's where it ends.

Maya said...

I have NO good advice about this, because I've always worked with people who were (or became) friends anyway. It definitely can backfire, though, that's for sure! But what are you supposed to do if you go out for happy hour after, work, stare at the walls? I don't think it's going to be hard for you to make non work friends either, but also: Did you know most/many people meet their spouses at work? Proof positive that fraternizing with the workmates is still alive and well.

Kristie said...

I'm fortunate that I've worked in the family business for most of my adlut life. I did have one other 'real' adult job and I really did make some good friends that I still have to this day. But I did have to be careful.

angela said...

In my old high school/college jobs, they were much more laid back. I hung out with those people outside of work all the time and we were always close friends. In the real world in an office environment, it just isn't the same. I just treat my co-workers as casual acquaintances and am very careful to never gossip or anything like that. I put up much stricter boundaries nowadays.

Jenni said...

Yep work is work and you should just go to work and do your job, exchange pleasentries but leave it at that, but maybe there were other issues as well that you may not be aware.

kirby said...

I rarely said anything to any of my work collegues when I worked for Michels. At MC I was kind of forced to tell more when everyone wondered what was wrong with me - that brought the 'surprise! I have depression' conversation into the mix, which I didn't want to share.
Now I don't care what my customers know about me. And to be honest, my boss knew nothing about me until the pet and animal expo, when he finally thought to ask if I still live at home, and if I have a boyfriend. Neither piece of information could put my job at risk. But I talk to my customers.. some tell me things they don't even tell their own husbands... so.. I don't know. I think they like knowing who it is that's washing their dog. And a lot of them genuinely care about me... so. No. While there are many things I still wouldn't tell customers, I don't mind them knowing things about me, however incriminating. Because I laugh at myself and that makes me approachable.
Or something.

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Stephanie said...

I am a slight mix of keeping it seperate and mixing the two. Before I moved, I met lots of people that I loved. None of them worked in my department, so I didn't worry about working with them. We were always just friends, so there was no wierd lives to cross. Then my first job right after we moved, I kept my personal life very personal just because it seemed like everyone was telling everyone everything. There was no privacy. My new office is fairly informal. People seem to share a lot. I talk with one girl (the one with good jeans) but not about anything personal yet. I have only been working there since July, so I don't feel like we know each other well enough. So I guess I blend the two??

Viviane said...

Yeah, I never became friends with anyone at work either, not because I worried about this, but it could indeed be a problem for some. At my last job two of the girls there are best friends though, so it seems to work for them. I suppose what it comes down to is trust, I would hope none of my friends would ever be so nasty to do something like that, even if we had a fight or stopped being friends.

Chrissy said...

Things are not always what they seem. Perhaps you havent been given the whole story about what happened - i guess we will never know

nicoleantoinette said...

This is interesting and definitely insightful. I always become really, really close with at least one person at work, no matter what/where the job is. Maybe I should be more careful. You definitely made me think...





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