5 Tips to Manage Personal Relationships in the Workplace

When we enter the workforce, we never want to be ‘that' person: the one who got that job through their connection with the boss, or the employee who already has a romantic relationship with someone on staff. In these times, it can be hard to work with a clean slate. People can undermine your work, and meanwhile you are constantly trying to balance your personal and professional life.

Have you ever asked yourself what the line between work and your personal life is? Social Media like Facebook has blurred this line more than ever, and we all must face the moment a colleague or (gasp) our boss requests us on Facebook. It means our personal photos and thoughts are now available to our colleagues, and elements of our work life, once clearly separate from our home life, are on display for everyone to see. So how do you manage personal relationships in the workplace and still bring your A game while keeping healthy relationships with your loved ones?

  1. Discuss your boundaries
    When entering a workplace where you already know the boss, a colleague or where you develop a romantic relationship with a colleague, it is imperative you have a clear discussion about your expectations of each other and your boundaries. This means discussing how and when you spend time together, how you will respond to personal questions regarding the relationship, and potentially even your physical boundaries in the workplace. For instance, in many workplaces it would be highly inappropriate to kiss your spouse goodbye, yet it would be perfectly acceptable to sit next to each other at lunch.
  2. Choose how you disclose information
    When you enter into a relationship with a colleague, it can be challenging to know if, how and when to let your workmates know. This will vary for individuals, but when you feel your relationship is serious enough to warrant it affecting the workplace consider approaching your boss or a trusted senior advisor about how your personal dynamics have changed and what they expect of you within this.
  3. Be careful with Social Media
    If you don't want your boss to know what you did on the weekend, don't add them on Facebook. In fact, make the decision to keep your work life separate on social media and never address personal issues in the public forum. Remember, once something is posted your workplace has the ability to find it, which could result in any number of consequences, so be careful before you hit that ‘post' button! If you are friendly with your colleagues but still want to retain some sense of privacy, perhaps consider changing the privacy settings on your social media so you can determine who can see what.
  4. Keep yourself accountable
    Having a personal relationship with someone on staff is great as it provides you with extra support and comradery in day to day life. That being said, it is easy for all of us to be blinded by our previous experiences with them and show prejudice either for or against them. When making decisions in the workplace that impact your loved one, take a moment to ask yourself if your judgment is being clouded in anyway before addressing the issue.
  5. Leave work at work
    When you leave the work place, you must decide to leave all your concerns there. In order to keep your personal relationship healthy, you need to determine what you can actually talk about outside of work hours that are work related. There is a difference between venting and disclosing private information that your loved one shouldn’t know, and together you need to make sure you don't allow the stress or tension that developed during the day to inhibit your personal relationship.

    If you have any unresolved issues or tension from the day, discuss it as soon as you get home, or choose to leave it for the next day when you are back at work. Remember, when you are home this person is your loved one, not your colleague. That beings said, be mindful of the impact anything you say could have on your loved one and consider seeking outside support if you find that work related stress is negatively impacting your relationship.