Can You Be Too Friendly At Work?

At one of my first internships during college, another girl I worked with, also an intern, was extremely friendly. In the beginning, I tried not to get too close—it was a very competitive internship and I didn't want anything getting in the way. But as the semester went on, and she became more persistent, it was difficult to resist becoming friends. Plus, we were still in college—socializing wasn't optional back then! She worked in the cubicle across from me—she got my jokes about the last meeting we went to, unlike my friends outside of work who couldn't keep track of the characters in my stories. And she never complained if I stood her up for happy hour because she knew—firsthand—whether my boss had been on a rampage that week.

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What happened next was unfortunate. She started underperforming due to personal troubles and began getting in trouble with our superiors. Meanwhile, just like everything else at work including job performance and problem-solving skills, I felt judged by our bosses—it seemed they looked at me differently because I was friends with her. I started to feel a competition brewing. Instead of stopping by to see if I wanted to grab a cup of coffee, she would give me a list of all of the duties she had performed that day while she eyed my current projects. I don't know why she felt she needed to give me the daily rundown, but it quickly became annoying and put me in an awkward position. Once the semester was over, she moved to a different state, and I never heard from her again. But I learned a difficult lesson about socializing at work. In my mind, friendships at work are good in moderation, but can be potentially damaging if you get too close to the wrong coworker.

Do you have to draw the line with your work friends? How do you deal with friendships at work gone wrong?

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