Deciding whether or not to become personal friends with your professional colleagues is a highly individual decision.  You can decide if you choose to ignore the distinction between colleague and friend, blur it occasionally, or leave it firmly in place.  This is quite different than starting frenemy relationships, which tend to be created without anyone making a conscious decision.  Who sets out to make frenemies?

Both relationships, however, come with benefits and perils.  Friends can make work fun, but they can also impair your judgment.  Frenemies can drive you crazy, but force you to stay sharp.

BENEFITS

Frenemies:

A couple of hours stuck together in an airport bar?  Awkward, but not likely to turn into a demotivating shared complaint session – you’ll keep your up your guard (“So, isn’t our boss the greatest?!”)

Friends: 

 Always looking out for ways to help improve your work and support your focus on delivering well.  (“The work you are doing is great, and you could make it even better if you consider…..”)

 PERILS

Frenemies:

A couple of lost days or hours nursing a perceived loss to a frenemy (“I deserved that assignment, not him!”) that distracts you from doing your best

Friends: 

Having your professional judgment compromised due to friendship (“The work we just turned in was not the best, but I didn’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings.”)

 Specifically, friendships have greater potential to impair your judgment.  While the boundaries of friendship have lots of wiggle room, the boundaries of judgment do not.  Whether you are a new trainee or a seasoned executive, your judgment will play a big role in defining you career.  As a wise friend once told me: make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other - knows all your secrets.

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AuthorAmy Feind-Reeves