Friendship: What to do with it in professional life?

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Don’t we all wish that there was a magical recipe or an operating manual for managing relationships? We have so many different kinds of relationships and each of them is unique: different foundation, mechanism, and conditionality.

Some relationships are more complicated and baffling such as the ones we have with our colleagues since they are closer to the line between your professional and personal life. In my experience, I had friends who became just my colleagues and colleagues who became my good friends.

There are so many traps in establishing good relationships in professional life: competition, disagreements, conflicts of interests and any other inter-personal, inner-team issues. It is always said that we need to find a balance our personal and professional life, but in practice it is not easy at all.

Why? Let’s start with cultural issues. In my country (Turkey), almost every professional relationship is personal. We tend to work with people like us, people that we can relate to. In general, the qualifications play a secondary role in the decision-making when an employee is hired.

Different ways of approaching professional vs. personal relations

Therefore, we consider every criticism, disagreement and conflict as personal even in professional life. A real life example: If someone provides feedback about the job we are doing, the initial instinct is to take it personal. Before questioning the work, we question the emotions of that person toward us. Or if we have a good relationship with someone we avoid expressing our criticism and dissatisfaction.

It is hard to completely separate your personal and professional life. It is not fun either. If you are more than colleagues at work, it is more likely that you are better motivated and better teammates. It is also perfectly OK if you choose just to stay colleagues. On the other hand; it is a very tricky balance to keep. We need to have awareness about the intersections of personal and professional life and communicate openly.

by Derya Kaya

2 Comments on “Friendship: What to do with it in professional life?”

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Derya! I agree with your idea that in case of negative feedback people tend to take it as personal attack. But I just want to add that sometimes people give feedback about their colleague’s work in a way which seems to be directed towards them as a person instead of their work. In the same way when we appreciate our colleagues we tend to appreciate the person rather than his/her work. In both cases I think if a person makes sure that the language of feedback is directed toward the work and not the colleague/person I think it could help both parties.

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