Friends at Work

By Paula Santonocito

The inclination may be to confide in a coworker that you’re not only fearful for your mother’s health, you’re afraid out of sight out of mind might result in losing the job.

Sounds innocent enough, right? Now picture what might happen if you share this concern and, like the game of telephone, it gets passed along and revised down the line. You could end up coming across as someone who lacks confidence or who isn’t dedicated to her job, and either or both could cost you the promotion.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t talk to someone. However, if there’s a chance that loose lips could sink your ship, opt for a friend who isn’t connected to your place of business.

The same applies to any sensitive situation.

What if you’re a manager and you have to lay off workers? You may be heartsick about it, but don’t share the news with coworkers before notifying your staff. How would your employees feel if they heard about job cuts through the grapevine?

Concern vs. Gossip

Granted, these examples center on big, important circumstances. The little things don’t matter as much, right?

Actually, they do. The daily, seemingly insignificant discussions with coworkers have the potential to impact the quality of your life and the lives of others.

Some people who work together genuinely want to help one another, and they share information in order to do so. Others, however, like to talk for conversation’s sake. Be cautious about sharing information with coworkers in the latter category.

How do you know whom to trust?

Here’s a sample situation. Janet’s husband of 10 years has left her for another woman. He’s also taken the good car.

Coworker No. 1 says, “Did you hear about Janet? What a nightmare. She doesn’t even have a decent car and winter is coming. I’m glad it’s not me.”

Coworker No. 2 says, “I heard Janet is having a rough time of it and might need help getting to and from work this winter. I have an idea. Why don’t we all carpool and invite her to join us? I don’t know about you, but I would love to cut my commuting cost.”

If your friend is coworker No. 1, this is someone you probably don’t want privy to TMI (too much information), whether it pertains to your career or personal life.

On the other hand, if your friend is coworker No. 2, you’re one of the lucky ones. It’s likely you have a true friend at work, and someone who is a great person besides.

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