8 Ways To Maturely Handle A Workplace Friendship Break-Up

Workplace friendships can help make the workday much more pleasant.

Becoming friends with coworkers is common and natural. Some workplace friendships even blossom into life-long romances.

However, sometimes workplace friendships turn into cliques, leaving other relationships idle or undiscovered. Cliques or groups usually form naturally because it’s convenient, schedules sync, you work in the same department, or you started at the same time.

Here are a few things to consider if you chum around with the same ol’ crew:

? Being perceived as belonging to a clique isn’t helpful for your professional image. (So high school)

? Focusing solely on your immediate group prevents you from engaging with others which limits your visibility.

? It can give the impression that you are not interested in expanding your circle of colleagues. “No one is welcome.”

Workplace friendships can end as quickly as they develop. Integrity is required when it all falls apart. Click To Tweet

workplace communication, business relationships

There is a dark side to workplace friendships which can cause immense tension leading to HR’s involvement and sometimes violence. To best handle and manage situations that culminate in violence, the services of security risk management firms may be useful in these instances.

A few common reasons that workplace relationships fall apart or fade are due to receiving a promotion or transfer, a tighter relationship with someone new, a piece of gossip, a declined invitation, money owed, or wanting more than the other is willing to give.

If you were on the receiving end, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Did the break-up really come out of left field? You really didn’t see the signs?
  2. Was it ever a genuine friendship or simply convenient? (Not all relationships last forever.)
  3. Did you imagine the relationship was a lifetime deal? (Were expectations too high or demanding?)

8 ways to maturely handle a workplace friendship break-up:

  1. Hopefully, the person spoke to you directly and in private. Once the news has been delivered, and there are unanswered questions, calmly ask. = Prepare yourself for some harsh truths.
  2. If it was something you said or did that caused the break-up, apologize. = This can lead to making amends, or at least cause less resentment.
  3. Whether you agree with their reasons or not, it’s what they’ve chosen to tell you. Or maybe, they didn’t have the courage to tell you the real (possibly hurtful) reasons. = Don’t go off on them listing their bad traits or why they were lucky to have you as a friend in the first place.
  4. Go out in style. Give them your word that what was said during the relationship, will remain confidential. Ask for the same courtesy in return. = Because a relationship ends, it does not give either party the license to divulge what was said in confidence. This is when integrity is required.
  5. Maintain a civil tone when you speak to them. = This will demonstrate your professionalism and integrity.
  6. Avoid sarcastic or veiled comments when speaking to them. = This will only reveal your immaturity and rancor, making everyone present uncomfortable.
  7. If the break-up is affecting your work or state of mind, especially if you are angry, seek help immediately! Begin with HR; they can provide you with guidance. If necessary, take a vacation day or sick day to deal with it.

How you handle the workplace friendship break-up will be noticed by your coworkers and boss. How you handle it can either alienate or unite your coworkers and department.


Don’t let a small annoyance or dilemma become a disturbance or legal battle. My customized presentations addresses these everyday occurrences that are often overlooked.


Helping Businesses and Individuals Find Success Through Better Communication and Social Skills

having lunch with a CEO, business dining etiquetteRosalinda Oropeza Randall, Social Skills and Civility Presenter, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.”

Presentations are available to support HR policies, sales teams, up and coming managers, millennials & new-hire orientation process, service technicians, professional development events, conferences, college/university students, interns. For more information, please contact me, 650.871.6200.

©2017 Rosalinda Randall. All Rights Reserved.

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