5 Things You Should Consider Before Befriending Your Boss

It’s a fabulous thing when the stars align and you gain a great boss in taking a new job.

What makes them “great?”

Perhaps, they have a great personality. They aren’t the usual stuffy leader.

Friendly, or too friendly?

Maybe, it’s because they are concerned with your well-being. They ask about the family and how things are going.

All in all, there are a myriad of reasons why your boss may be “great.”

It is human nature that we become comfortable with people who make us feel at ease. How comfortable we become is a matter of discernment and individual disposition.

But when it comes to the people you report to, how friendly is too friendly? Is there such thing as being too close for comfort?

In my humble opinion, I think there is such a thing as being too familiar, too friendly, and too close with your boss. Take it from me, I have been too close for comfort and it has gone wrong — and I have been very familiar and it has been just right.

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Five things to think about

Here are some things to consider when it comes to befriending your boss:

  1. There is a difference between being “friendly” and being “friends.” You may come to know things about one another in time, but it wise to not misconstrue friendship with pleasantries. If you have ever had a seemingly “great” boss, you will know why this is important.
  2. Your personal business is none of your boss’s business. I don’t care how friendly or nice your boss is, there are limits to what you should share. Oversharing gives them too clear a window into your life and may or may not give them fodder with which to make decisions surrounding your employment and/or career opportunities.
  3. Listen more. Observe more. Speak only when necessary. It could be the introvert in me, but I like to observe people before I become friendly. I need to assess people and watch how they operate. It has helped me to do this, because it gives me a leg up on understanding whether I need to tread lightly or if I can loosen up a bit.
  4. Never gossip with your boss about co-workers or others in the organization. Notice that I said “loosen up a bit” in No. 3. After you have observed your leaders and decided “hey, they are cool”, stop yourself short of gossip. Some of them will gladly indulge you in this kind of talk- especially if it allows them to blow off some steam about people you work with. In the long run, talk gets around and it will never be them that looks poorly if you were involved in a gossip session. It will be your ass on the fire- always!
  5. Numbers 1-4 will not apply to every boss. The key is understanding and knowing what makes them tic — and considering in advance what could go wrong for you.

Don’t jump too fast

If the pros outweigh the cons and you have yourself a good egg, go for it and skip through the meadows with one another. However, if you are unsure and you are just a happy go-lucky person with everyone, stop yourself and consider a friendly, but professional relationship.

Working with leaders with varied personalities, agendas, and management styles can be challenging. Don’t be too quick to befriend before you consider the ramifications of a more personal relationship with someone who manages you.

This was originally published on Janine Truitt’s The Aristocracy of HR blog.

Janine N. Truitt is a human resources professional as well as an HR blogger/founder of “The Aristocracy of HR” blog. Follow her blog "The Aristocracy of HR" at http://hr.toolbox.com/blogs/aristocracy-hr/ . Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her tweets on Twitter @CzarinaofHR. The opinions shared in her articles are her own and are in no way a reflection of the views of her employer.

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