Strictly Business or Squad Goals?
As business women, we wear many hats. Not only are we consultants, managers, counselors, and “worker bees,” but we are also human beings. And as human beings, we desire to have sincere friendships, even in our business circles.
Sincere friendships are different from strictly professional friendships. You are more inclined to associate outside of the office and share more of your personal life. But can you be personal and professional without a conflict of interest? Developing friendships with our co-workers, colleagues, and business associates can be challenging, even if we feel they are necessary to function in our professional world. Yet, we must set boundaries to have good and balanced relationships. Establish your boundaries head on. Make it clear that in your relationship you are a part of two different worlds: in the office and outside of the office. Be mature in knowing the difference and the “secret” rules of each world. Mingling outside of the office means no shop talk or grapevine gossip. Work issues stay at work.
In my own professional friendships, I’ve learned that being aware of what your responsibility is in the friendship is important. Mixing friendship with business can be an awkward and dangerous thing if you’re not careful in understanding that. I know that in my professional friendships, I am responsible for being a listening ear, a consultant and supporter. My friendship boundary doesn’t go any further than that. There is a very thin line though. Women are natural nurturers and when we allow our emotions to be a guiding factor, things can become chaotic.
Now, not all professional friendships are bad. Actually, having friendships in the office can be a good thing. They foster support, new resources, networking connections, and help build a professional rapport with people. It is a key element to have someone in your “corner” as you climb the ladder to success, because as women we face many obstacles that other women can only relate to. These professional friendships can be empowering and advocate a new sense of motivation and encouragement.
I believe that having professional friendships are necessary, but they can also be a detriment to your career, and get you unfocused if you’re not wise and using good business sense. Take the road less traveled in building your friendships by setting boundaries and having a purpose for friendship.