Many of you work at least 8 hours a day and see the same people every day. Therefore, it makes sense to become friends with your co-workers. However, have you ever thought whether your work friends are your real friends?

There is a difference between your real friends, who will be there for you in your tough times or whom you enjoy inviting over to your house for dinner, and your work friends whom you hang out with for lunch or happy hour because you happen to be in the same building every day. It is harder for young professionals to make this distinction because many of us become friends in school. You go to the class, meet new people and make friends. Some of them may think it is similar in the office as well.

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Nevertheless, a work environment is much different than a school setting. It is more structured and has more rules. Only because you see the same people 40 hours a week don’t mean that they will be your new best friends. Of course, there may be occasions which you really find a true friend at work but generally, it is very rare. I recommend asking yourself a few questions to understand if this person is only a work friend or a true friend.

  • Do you hang out with your friend outside of the office and especially on the weekends?
  • Do you know your friend’s other friends outside of the office?
  • Did you meet your friend’s significant other?
  • If you and your friend are up for the same promotion and s/he ends up getting the promotion, would you be happy for her/him?
  • If your friend quit work, would you still meet with her/him?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, congratulations, you have found yourself a true friend at work. If not, it might be best for you to keep some distance with your work friends. Below you can find few tips.

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1. Set Boundaries: Don’t discuss your personal matters with your work friends.

2. Don’t Gossip: Don’t gossip about others in the office especially about your boss or supervisor. You never know maybe this person seems like a friend to you but actually s/he is not!

3. Don’t Take Everything Personal: Remember, this is an office and you have to cooperate with others to get things done. Therefore, if you have a problem with one of your work friends, it is best to solve this problem immediately.

4. Be Professional: No matter what happens, you should always be polite and professional.

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