Why is working with your friend(s) a really bad idea

But before we start, let’s break down the definition of a friend and of a coworker, since this will make everything easier in the next lines.

Now, this is a long talk that I had with some friends, so I thought about sharing it. As you can see (and most probably know, as well), friends are some people that we hang out with, call for a drink, call at 4AM to cry because of reasons, ask money, give money and offer a shoulder when is needed.

While the coworker is the one that you get along great on some projects, make sh*t happen, fix things, break things and you give or receive tasks from them. Tasks that can be great or not, tasks that can give you a raise or fire you if you are not doing them well. So, somehow, the coworkers are some people that you have an intense-ish relationship, but only from 9 to 5 and that have to report their activity from time to time.

Now, ‘cuz there are these definitions, you might wonder Why is working with your friend(s) a really bad idea, right?

At first glance you would say that this is perfect!

Personal vs professional 1.0

Friends share sensitive information about them. There is this affection connecting you. So, you know when they are sick, when they had a harsh night and cannot be awake in the morning, you know when they got a toxic relationship or whatever is running through their mind. Which is great, cuz you can be there for them.

And then, you have this huge project going on, competition is killing you and jira or asana (or whatever management tool you have) keeps showing that your friend, that happens to be a coworker as well, did not finish some tasks. The client is waiting, the billable hours are increasing and the tasks are undone. You go to your friend and kindly ask him/her to finish. Of course, all the personal things will come out: I had to pick up kids, I feel sick, you already know that [insert here a very bad thing] happened to me last week and I was not in the mood to work.

Now, you can say: a) you know, you should do this because we have a deadline, the client is quite upset and the rest of the team is working a lot to cover as much as possible. Or b) oh, I am so sorry. How can I help you?

Both of them are wrong: if you pick (a) you will be considered a bad and without empathy friend and (b) your project is gonna sink if you keep doing this.

Photo by Kev Seto on Unsplash

Friends vs coworkers

Somehow, people tend to socialize and collaborate with people that they already know — this is quite normal and expected, but not sure that it is a good idea for a work place. Talking, eating or making inside jokes only with your friends while the others in the room are invisible or they try to understand you and you just say: oh, never mind! it is something about us. So, basically, you create some sort of barrier: you vs us / us vs them.

It is not something that I made up, but there are lots of articles saying that the human mind has a tendency to categorize people into social groups. Of course, this can separate us from a group, it can lead to some sort of irrationally favoritism or bias.

I read at some point that Group thinking causes us to act irrationally and uncooperative, because we are more concerned about conforming with our group instead of thinking intelligently for ourselves, or recognizing other people’s interests and values outside of our own social circle.

Instead of seeing people in groups, a better perspective is to see everyone as an individual worthy of respect, equality, and kindness, regardless of what groups they may be categorized in. — Unfortunately, not sure who exactly said this and seems to appear in multiple place. I hope I will find the source.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

And last, but not least: working with friends will never add a line to your private life vs working time. You will always mix them even more than you do and you will have mixed feelings about pretty much everything.

That’s all folks!