Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Friends vs. Colleagues: Where's the Line?

By Kelsey McWilliams, junior journalism major at CU-Boulder

Friend [frend] noun: a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard

Colleague [kol-eeg] noun: an associate

The two definitions above may seem pretty straight forward at first glance, but the truth is: there is a fine line between friends and colleagues. That’s not to say that you can’t be friends with the people you work with, but colleagues are not equivalent to friends outside of the workplace.

First of all, your boss is not just an ordinary colleague, especially if you’re an intern. As fun and friendly as your boss may be, remember that you are in a professional setting, so it is imperative to act that way. Do not come to work hung-over or talk about inappropriate things with people in the office. Making a negative impression could certainly hurt you in the future at your current job or internship and affect your career search.

Workplaces are a great way to meet people and make friends; so don’t be afraid to take advantage of that opportunity. Just remember to be cognizant of your surroundings whether you’re having drinks with colleagues after work or sitting in the office lounge. Making a good impression on people is an important part of professional life, so make sure to know your boundaries.

As much as you may like your colleagues, they are not replacements for your mom, roommates or childhood best friend. That means, over sharing of personal details is definitely not recommended in a professional environment. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being friendly and outgoing, as long as you know where to draw the line.