Many of us spend 40+ hours a week in our traditional job settings. We communicate with those around us, often forming bonds that can spill over into our personal lives. For me, my elderly boss became my Friday lunch partner. My boss was an attorney 40+ years my senior and still practicing. I was a jovial law school hopeful! Things were great initially until advice became more personal than professional.  

By that time, I had broken my cardinal rule- never get too personal with colleagues or co-workers. I have been the master of telling people just enough to make them feel like they know me, but they didn’t. Since then I have stuck to my no personal relationships with colleagues. 

I realize this is not attainable for most people, so there are some things that you can do to limit your work relationships from going sour or being placed in a situation where you have to choose between ethics and a “friendship” at work. Here are some boundaries I learned to set and hopefully they can help you too. 

LIMIT COLLEAGUES ACCESSIBILITY TO YOU


I will never let a colleague be my friend on social media. Most organizations have a social media policy and what you do in your private time could affect you and what you’re supposed to do during your paid time. Besides, you do not want your colleagues to be able to discuss any conversations you had on social media that did not pertain to them. A sure way to limit accessibility is to create work-friendly accounts.  

KEEP ALL LUNCH DATES DURING THE WEEK

If it’s not during working hours, you shouldn’t be there. Your colleagues do not need to see how you behave on your 4th mimosa.  And if you’re going to lunch, do so in a group setting. It limits the ability of individuals to get personal.

DO NOT DISCUSS MISHAPS AT WORK WITH YOUR COLLEAGUES

The biggest mistake is to discuss your grievances with colleagues. You don’t want your personal feelings being repeated, added to, and told throughout the conferences. 90% of the time how you feel at the moment will not be how you feel in the end. 

DON’T DATE A COLLEAGUE 

If you aren’t supposed to disclose personal information, do not think dating will be okay. That is personal no-no. If the relationship fails, the awkwardness at work will be there. Let's be honest, you don't need your personal business as cubicle talk.  

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