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Be Friendly, Not Friends

There will always be people at work who strive to be your best friend. You know them: they’re the ones telling you about their pets, challenges with their kids, what they had for breakfast or dinner, arguments with their spouse. They ask you probing questions to break down your wall: How did you meet your spouse? What are the names of your pets? Where does your family live? They want you to think that they know you well so they offer recommendations for all kinds of things. They gain power by feeling that they know you, and know others. They connect people, and they give gifts to ensure that you always feel in debt.

Be careful. Executives often comment that they don’t have many friends at work. After all, if you’re an executive, who can you really trust anyway? Everyone reports to you. In addition, if you even appear to beĀ friends with one person, how will others interpret your behavior? And most importantly, as a manager you can’t afford to be in a compromising situation of being indebted to someone you manage.

Long-story-short: be friendly in the workplace, but don’t be there to make friends. There are plenty of opportunities to make friends outside of work.

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