Cliques and the Workplace

We all have the freedom to choose our friends. It is natural for people to get along
with some and not really “click” with others. We all interact with individuals/groups
and make connections, which is a normal part of life. We share close bonds with
some and others we call acquaintances because relationships/intimacy levels are

Because we will always have closer relationships with some and not with others,
how do we handle these “friendships/groups/cliques” in the workplace? The
workplace is a completely different environment altogether. How should you handle
the fine line of belonging to a group while maintaining your professional
image/goal? Is it possible to do both well?

One thing to realize, the workplace is first and foremost a “place of work”. It is a
place where you hopefully, can set future goals. Whether you are working towards a
promotion or building skills for a future elsewhere, the important thing is to make
sure the work is handled well. The group you are connected with on a more social
level has to be handled with caution. In some instances, the group can have a
detrimental affect. Does the group have a negative image within the company?
Would associating with a certain group jeopardize your position or work image?
Can anything you say leak to other sources? The fact groups or cliques exist is not a
negative thing at work. However, it becomes negative if the group uses their
“collaborative unit” to intentionally make a negative impact in some way. It could be
work sabotage, bullying, gossiping, etc. That is when the group becomes a toxic unit
that can make others feel isolated. And you most definitely do not want to be
associated or take part in this type of behavior. The old adage, “You are the company
you keep” does most certainly apply here.

So what if you find the “right group”? You cannot erase the notion that certain
people will not gather together but the “gathering” should be done without affecting
the well being of others. Should you find yourself getting along with a certain group,
make sure you still maintain a professional outlook with everybody (both the ones
you associate most and the ones you may not). First of all, it is about being polite
and about having good manners. Second, you will be able to have a good enough
rapport with everybody to get the job done and it will also help maintain your
professional image. Depending upon how you handle the situation, people can
connect with their respective groups without repeating the cliques of their high
school pasts.

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