Not Everyone at Work is Your Friend, Even if They Say So

Many of us spend more of our waking hours in the office than at home during the workweek, which can easily lead to blurred personal and professional lines between colleagues.

While it’s always nice to like the people you work with, becoming too friendly can lead to office problems. The workplace is often a competitive place, and even if you have good friends at work (or thought you did) we all have days when we wonder who will be next to stab us in the back as we realize that most offices are no different than a schoolyard.

It’s hard to get past learning a trusted colleague is talking bad about your behind your back, after all, you are only human.

But it’s important not to let these actions interfere with your work performance. There are ways to work around the catty and immature environment that an office can breed.

Remember, it’s business, not personal. First and foremost, realize that anyone is capable of talking behind your back or throwing you under the bus. This is an office, not a space where you spend your personal time. If you work long hours, it might be a struggle to separate the two. You must always remember that for most people, the priority at work is achieve professional and monetary success—not find their best friends.

Separate ‘noise’ from damaging information. Not everything someone says about you is meant to be malicious or hurtful. We all get frustrated with those we spend the most time with, and the truth is, mean words may just be said in the heat of a moment and you were just in the line of fire.

Before you write the person off, consider what was said and decide if it’s worth addressing. Even if you choose to change your relationship with that person to being strictly professional, you still need to work together and letting anger fester could be more detrimental to you in the long run. Moving forward, keep the conversation brief and try to keep personal feelings out of it.

Rise above the fray. If you want to have trusting relationships with colleagues, set the example. You can’t expect others to be loyal to you if you’re showing them disloyalty by gossiping. What's more, if you develop a reputation of talking behind people’s backs or not being trustworthy, it can hurt your long-term career growth potential.

Lindsay Broder, The Occupreneur™ Coach (on Twitter @occupreneur), is a certified professional coach based in New York. A Wall Street veteran, she specializes in Occupreneur™ coaching, strategy and crisis-consulting services for executives and organizations who strive to improve their businesses or careers.