Social & Interpersonal Skills

6 Surprising Reasons Why Work Colleagues Are Not Your Friends

Sometimes the people we spend the most time with during the day are those with whom we share a workplace. Working people spend more time with their coworkers than with their immediate family or friends.

It’s easy to get too close to our coworkers. To what extent, though, are work friends real friends? Always keep in mind that work colleagues are not your friends. In this piece, I’ll go over some dangers of being friends with people at work.

Reasons Work Colleagues Are Not Your Friends

1. Promotion Over Coworker

Being promoted ahead of your teammate is one of the most typical yet problematic situations that might arise. Maybe both of you wanted that promotion, but your boss chose you. Your coworker may suddenly dislike you, try to sabotage you out of jealousy, and defy your orders.

Your pals probably wouldn’t take you seriously if you were suddenly promoted to group leader over them since they probably see you as one of them.

You may also find it difficult to administer appropriate punishments to those who disobey your guidelines because you don’t want to lose pals. You can avoid all the tension by telling them I’m here to work not make friends.

2. Covering for Colleagues

You may also find yourself in a situation where a coworker requests you to cover for them when they are lazy. When your manager inquiries about them, they may ask you to lie on their behalf.

If you don’t, you and your coworker can fight, and the office could become a stressful environment instead of one you look forward to every day.

Covering for them, however, will likely result in your supervisor finding out one day. Look for ways on how to distance yourself from a coworker friend before you suffer serious professional repercussions that could set back your career.

3. Inability to Issue a Warning

Suppose your employer is considering terminating one of your coworkers. The least you can do is prepare them for what’s coming by giving them advance notice so they can seek other employment.

They are your friend, after all. They will be furious with you if they find out you were aware and did nothing to protect or inform them.

You can’t tell them, though, because your boss forbade it. You have no option except to maintain your silence, even though doing so will wear you down.

4. Disclosing too Much Info that May Ruin Your Career

If you consider your colleagues’ friends, what could hinder you from sharing personal details? You can tell them you missed a meeting because you had a wild night out with friends and woke up late with a nasty hangover.

You may think your data is safe because you just told your friend. You forget how rumors spread quickly. Your coworker may have trusted a coworker with such information. Then it gets to your employer, and you get fired because they can’t cope with an uncommitted employee.

Never underestimate your coworkers. They work for money and will choose job stability over you. Fake friends at work are too common; it’s up to you to keep your personal life and professional ambitions from them.

5. Love Drama

Dating a coworker is even worse than being friends with one, so keep your distance. Dating a coworker brings a lot of talk and drama at work. Unfortunately, most of these partnerships fail.

We’re all aware of the disheartening truth that 50% of all marriages will eventually end in divorce. However, it isn’t true since the divorce rate has reduced to about 25% for the normal married couple.

So, imagine the high divorce rate for married people; what will happen to a new relationship? Dating someone from your office increases the likelihood of breaking up. The reason being daily contact with them makes you focus on their flaws rather than their virtues.

The workplace could become difficult if you decide to end your relationship. Either everyone will give each other the cold shoulder, making it difficult to communicate and collaborate, or things will get very heated.

There will be conflicts over nothing, backstabbing, sabotaging, and a never-ending supply of office drama and rumors.

6. Office Conflict

Falling out with a coworker buddy might be as emotional as breaking up with a coworker. Even though you work together, being coworkers doesn’t make you immune to “breakups” between friends for many reasons.

Another office drama occurs when you have to choose between two buddies for a project or promotion. How do you choose without upsetting people?

How to Distance Yourself from a Coworker Friend

The following are tips to distance yourself from fake friends at work:

1. Keep Your Boundaries

Always distinguish between personal and professional ties. It’s okay to be friendly with employees, and it’s usually a good idea to cultivate deeper relationships but not blur the lines. Remember that you two are in a professional association. When in doubt as to whether or not your level of disclosure is appropriate, it’s safer to hold back slightly rather than risk offending someone.

2. Use a Filter

Some folks can’t control their speech and therefore find themselves oversharing personal details. Your employees don’t need to know about your current relationship, but you can relate a wacky dating story from years ago. You could discuss your long-term goals, but it’s unnecessary to emphasize that this position is temporary.

3. Being Friendly and Being Friends

There is a significant gap between merely being cordial and being friends. Only 2% of employees are considered enemies by their coworkers. It’s important to keep up positive, nice interactions with your coworkers. You’re friendly with them, but you’re not pals.

4. Keep Colleagues Off Your Social Media Accounts

While this guideline should be followed, many people consistently fail. Avoid adding employees as Facebook friends, have them as Instagram followers, or share your TikTok account with them. Social media makes filtering tough but strict to using WhatsApp, group chats, and phone calls to communicate with employees.

5. Avoid Drama and Gossip

Avoiding drama by ignoring it when it arises is a great approach to maintaining your life drama-free. Don’t, for instance, slander your coworkers behind their backs, as this encourages more office turmoil and gossip.

6. Never Date Coworkers

No matter how fantastic you believe a coworker might be, you should never date them. Trust me—not it’s worth it. You could be experiencing the euphoria of falling in love, but you’re not losing out on anything significant. The people you’re not meant to date, or the forbidden fruit, sometimes appear more desirable than they are.


If you don’t have many acquaintances outside of work, it can be hard not to consider your coworkers’ close pals. But the phrase ” work colleagues are not your friends ” should never escape your mind. Choose to maintain professional boundaries, which will help you avoid stress and career-damaging circumstances.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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