Monday, December 17, 2007

Be Friendly at Work - not Friends?

Great article on RevolutionHealth about Knowing Your Boundaries at Work.
Excerpts ...

Understanding co-workers' skills can be powerful — knowing their scuttlebutt can be problematic.

"Your ability to carry a conversation is crucial in building
relationships with fellow employees, but boundaries must exist," says Susan Morem, a Minneapolis-based business consultant...The border separating professional and personal relationships isn't easy to patrol, especially at smaller, informal offices ... [b]ut conversational boundaries help to determine the reputation of an employee and staff. Simply put, boundaries preserve integrity."

Beware of feeling informal ... "There's generally no clear rule
about where to draw the line, so a good rule of thumb is to avoid issues that might make someone uncomfortable."

"Refrain from gossip," Morem advises. "Remember: Those who talk to you about others will also talk about you to others."

Morem says most gossip and other inappropriate conversations occur in places that feel informal, such as elevators, hallways and bathrooms. But co-workers should never get the false sense of security that they're off duty in these locations.

"It's better to pretend your personal microphone is always on. Don't
say something if you don't want it heard or repeated."

While it's natural for employees to show interest in one another's
lives, someone has to be courageous enough to cut off a co-worker when warranted.

Just as informal places can get co-workers into trouble, so can seemingly informal methods of communication. {Like email)

Forge office friendships with care "Make sure you know and completely trust this kind of co-worker friend."

Expect boundary differences

Because those differences are widespread and co-workers' boundaries are subjective, office humor is risky.

If a co-worker says something that offends or upsets you, try to respond instead of react. "Reaction is immediate and emotional. When we react to something, we are more likely to say or do things we might later regret," Morem says. "A response is planned and controlled, and it leads to fewer communication issues."
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