Should We Keep Friendships Out of the Workplace?

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Awareness Advantage Podcast
Should We Keep Friendships Out of the Workplace?

Kevin McCarthy, and Likky Lavji


Should we keep friendships out of the workplace? We all know that friendship are great to have.... but according to the Mayo Clinic, "Friendships can have a major impact on your health and well-being."

Good friends are good for your health.

Friends are there for you through good times and the bad. They can prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness. And they allow you to support and celebrate others, which can raise your own self-esteem and confidence. This is true of friends who you meet on your own, and the people who coincidentally end up as friends because they work together. The Mayo Clinic also says that friends (and friendly co-workers) can also:

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
  • Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
  • Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job stress or the death of a loved one
  • Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise

In addition, to these great gifts of friendships, friends also help build strong social connections  reduce the risk of health problems such as depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Older adults who have friendships and connections which provide social support are likely to live longer too!

And yet, relationships in the workplace can be tricky... even friendships. What happens if you have to let a "friend" go? Or one person is promoted and the other is not?

It is important to know where the people you work with fit in to your life. You can have work-friends who buy you a coffee on your birthday and listen to you when you are stressed and need to talk--and you can have work-friends who become strong  life-long friendships which are mutually fulfilling for decades. 

Yet, not all people in all workplaces need to be friends. In fact, a lot of work can get done with people who have very little in common, as long as they have trust and respect for each other and focus on the task at hand. Do we want to work in a workplace where people have no connection, no trust, no commonality? Of course not! Yet those are the things that are the root of friendships...

So, you do not NEED to be friends with your co-workers--but when there is a spark and connection, think about nurturing that friendship outside the workplace, over a lunch, or in a shared yoga class, or other activity. Having shared experience outside of the office can build a great friendship which can last past the job and into the future!


Raising your self-awareness and emotional intelligence will make you a better leader. High self-awareness equips you to identify and conquer the blind spots that lead to poor decisions, strained relationships and high levels of stress. Awareness is the leader’s superpower that drives engagement, inspires retention and shifts culture. Awareness gives you the advantage you need to influence and inspire the people you lead.


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