The relationships between your co-workers and your close friends are pretty obvious. Generally, friends are your peers. You are most likely similar in age, share common interests, grew up together, they are the company you keep on a personal level and most importantly, you get to decide those that are called friends. Co-workers fall into another category. You do not always get the opportunity to choose who you work alongside, you may not have much in common, you may not even like them very much, you are added to a constructed group with varying degrees of differences and expected to get along enough to accomplish your goals. How are you going to do it?

There are reasons why companies take culture fit into consideration. It can be very unsatisfying and stressful for anybody, working in an environment that is not a good fit. They want to make sure people have enough similarities to help things run smoothly. Would you necessarily place somebody who does not deal with stress very well in a fast paced/high energy environment or place somebody who prefers back office work in a very high profile position that requires a lot of face time with high-end clients? Although a meticulous approach to hiring a good culture fit might be in place, this does not always equal utopia. It is not a guarantee. People still have different levels of experience, staff members can vary in age, have different personalities, etc. Also, depending upon the department, different groups may have differences based upon their field of expertise. So, what can you do?

It may be a good idea to leave the idea of friendship at the door and bring a different mindset into the work environment. You can still work well with somebody that you might not necessarily call a friend because at the end of the day, you are all present to get a job done. You were hired as a professional not necessarily as a friend anyway. Obviously, common courtesy, office etiquette and being personable are all important and necessary in making a successful working environment. However, you are always going to get along with certain people better, there are always going to be those that you will not necessarily like, you will want to go out to lunch with some but not others, etc. You cannot force people to like each other. But remember, first and foremost, employees work to put skills to use and get paid for doing it, right? Think about it as a learning environment. We all want to gain more experience, be able to contribute our skills and perform our jobs well. You do not have to be best friends, close friends or even friends to be able to do that well. And do not take things so personally. If you can perform your job well and are recognized for it, are those not the main goals in our career? As long as you are not deliberately barred from company-based functions, people can decide who their work friends are. If all else fails, you can always complain to your friend about that annoying co-worker. After all, isn’t that what friends are for anyway?