3 rules for work friendships

Studies show that people who have strong friendships at work tend to be happier, healthier and more productive. However, the situation can turn negative if one friend oversteps or stresses the other one out.

Follow these tips to build healthy work friendships:

Be realistic. Work friendships typically don’t have the same dynamic as friendships you build in your personal life. A co-worker may not become a true confidant, and the friendship may not extend outside of your workplace walls.

Still, see the value in the relationship. Having someone to go to lunch with or to chitchat with over a coffee can make work much more enjoyable.

Watch how much you share. If this person is someone you see yourself hanging out with outside of work, you can share more personal details about your life. Just do it after hours.

However, if you realize this is purely a work friendship, keep conversations light and casual, and never say anything about co-workers, management or the company that the person could use against you if the friendship falters. Additionally, don’t pressure people to open up about personal issues.

Set some boundaries. Socializing during a break is fine, not so much throughout the day when you need to be working. Additionally, don’t expect your friend to complete your work or support your ideas just because you are friends—and vice versa. Be sure to push back if you feel your buddy is taking advantage of your friendship.

— Adapted from “Friends with Boundaries: Handling Friendships in the Workplace,” Sammi Caramela, Business News Daily, www.businessnewsdaily.com.