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How To Bond With Your Co-Workers Without Telling Your Business – And Feeling Like A Phony


Everyone has met a nosy co-worker more interested in your weekend plans than your professional achievements. And while it’s understandable to want to avoid them like the plague, dodging their questions without alienating them is key. The truth is that failing to connect with your co-workers and others within your industry can harm your career goals. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research, “Between likability and competence, people value likable colleagues (regardless of their competence level) more than competent colleagues.”

It’s helpful to understand why co-workers want to befriend you. Michaiah Dominguez-Brown, Ph.D., explains that work could be a lifeline to social interaction for some. She compares the office to elementary school, a cradle for social connections. “Proximity typically means friendship,” she tells ESSENCE. “There is no playground for adults. The closest thing that we have to a playground is the workspace.”

"In order to be your best at work, we have to be able to take care of ourselves first"


You don’t have to attend every company happy hour or gab about Vanderpump Rules after hours on Slack to be successful. Still, you should have a strategy for dealing with the interpersonal nature of the workplace. “As much as we want to believe that work can just be work, it is a social environment,” says Dominguez-Brown.

This strategy is necessary because advancing in the workplace without colleague support is not easy, as research shows.

Avoid Violating Your Boundaries

“I won’t say that you cannot be successful if people don’t care for you, but it is a tough hill to climb, and you’re not given the benefit of the doubt,” says Karan Ferrell-Rhodes, a human resources and leadership expert.

Nina Westbrook, licensed marriage and family therapist and host of Do Tell Relationship Podcast, recommends setting firm parameters and prioritizing self-care to avoid violating your boundaries. “Allocate specific times for work-related activities and personal time and stick to them,” she suggests via email. “Remember to prioritize self-care and honor your personal needs while pursuing your career aspirations. In order to be your best at work, we have to be able to take care of ourselves first.”

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