During busy season, Karen’s company keeps cots in a closet so employees can catch a nap while working all night on projects. Lea’s best friends are the people she works with. She doesn’t have time to forge friendships anywhere else. Spending forty or fifty hours a week with a group of people for months or years at a time, it seems natural that you would become friends, or even like family, after a while. But when is “close” too close? Where is the line between personal and professional, when you work alongside the same people day in and day out?
Religion and politics have long been taboo in the workplace. Yet, these topics are difficult to steer clear of because they often play a part in the news and TV shows we want to discuss, and because passion for a topic can override good judgement. Use your own expectations to test whether to step into or walk away from a conversation. Inviting your co-workers to a concert at your church might be acceptable; expecting them to meditate with you in the break room is not. When others cross that line, have a comment ready to use to excuse yourself. It can be simple, “I’d better get back to work.” Say it politely, and then reinforce that boundary by walking away.