20 Somethings-The People You Work With Are Not Your Buddies.
I recently was discussing with a friend all the things we wish we knew in our 20s. We compiled a brief list and I am going to be blogging about our hard won nuggets of wisdom.
In grade school we see everyone as a potential friend. A classroom is perfect for learning to socialize, which is the secondary purpose of schooling. All the little boys and girls are same age also looking for friends. It is a happy land of fun. We are grouped with others until the age of 22 when we leave college. Then we have to go out into the mythological real world and try to be an adult.
One of the most important things you will need to know before stepping foot into your cubicle is others do not automatically like you. That whole strangers are just friends you haven’t met is no longer true. You are a young thing being released into the wild, office predators see you as easy prey. At first you might view your new co-workers as potential happy hour companions and dating possibilities. Nope-no way-no how. Strike that down.
Happy Hour is Not always So Happy
This is what happens at happy hour-you talk smack about the people who aren’t there. Somewhat like the high school cafeteria. Those friendly cocktail drinkers do this so you will pledge loyalty to the group. After all, no one wants to be gossiped about. You will be a topic of conversation at one point or another, so don’t worry about it. The people who do the most social investing in happy hours usually do not want to go home to their cats or nagging spouse. A few times it might be fun, but do not talk about anyone at work. The group gossiper-there will always be one-will not relay the context of your remark, just what you said. You will come across badly and the gossiper can insert themselves into the bad blood to bask in the juicy details. Gossipers love the back and forth because they have no excitement in their lives.
You think life after college is all cocktail parties and lovely older men. It can be, but for those not experiencing this they want someone to pay a price for their growing bitterness. If a co-worker makes a comment about you, do not engage. Step away; it will look badly on you. Be friendly however. Eat cake at office parties and laugh at jokes. Do you best to keep the banter inside the office walls.
Ben from IT May Have a Big Mouth
There is an expression which says do not dip your pen in the company ink. This means do not date a coworker. Sure, it may be like shooting a fish in a barrel at your current place. This should not be a dating option for a number of reasons. The first is being the lack of privacy. You will never get a break from your datemate. There needs to be a distinction from work and home to avoid burnout.
You will love the initial flirting and the secret bond you share, but the second it starts going South everyone will know. Even the people you thought only stared at the clock will know. Grown adults at work are bored and quietly watching each other. Then you have to endure the gossiper asking questions and the knowing looks. If you break up, the tongues will be wagging. No one wants to see their ex-boyfriend, let alone in a stressful environment on a daily basis. He/she might retaliate and say nasty things that will stay in your coworkers subconscious until you leave. If you still pine for your ex-, you will have a constant reminder and will definitely hear about their new partner. There is only one way to avoid the drama, don’t start any.
How to Make Non-work Friends
If your world revolves around work then you need to get some outlets. Find local groups or buy a dog to walk around with and use the creature as conversation starter. All you need is two outside of work friends to hang out with and be normal around.
One thing we are not taught in school is how to have boundaries at work. In school the teacher maintains the discipline and seats you away from where you will talk. People get fired for a number of things, talking more than working is one of them. The jokey emails and flirts can be used against you when they want to get rid of you. Sobering truth time: hr makes a paper trail on you the moment you start working so they can have enough evidence to fire you later on if needed. Company email is not private and the higher ups can say you were wasting company time. You were wasting company time. Be productive, be friendly, but keep your distance.
Yes, some people meet their soul mate or best friend at work. There are more people who meet the gossiper, had bad relationships that everyone found out about or was put on probation for wasting company time. You have co-workers, not potential friends.