Keeping Work and Social Life Separate

Postby mmacc2011 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:52 am


Looking for advice on this. I went out on a work social last night that I initially suggested we do, because we've done it before with the team I'm in and it went fine. In previous companies, I've always ended up choosing to keep work and social separate for my own sanity, but this new job of 18 months seemed to be such a good group of people, it's hard to say no.

Anyway cut to the night out and we were in a pub, and suddenly conversation turned to work, and then turned to X, Y and Z that I do at work using tools that we have been asked to use by work, and that my use of these really annoys people. It felt incredibly personal, and two of them started bitching about me as if I wasn't there, telling me how they really dislike how I do X, Y and Z. Noone has brought this to my attention in work, so this made me really angry, that people wait until they have a bit of confidence to say hurtful things. There is stuff my colleagues do that I don't like, but I don't bitch about it after a drink. After this, I just disappeared quietly and text to say why and left it at that. Not heard anything since.

Long story short, do I stop socials with work colleagues at this place, and just keep them as work mates and dont investigate friendships with them anymore. I have a decent social circle without as it is. And how do I handle dealing with the awkwardness at work if so?

Full Member
Posts: 105
Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:53 pm
Likes Received: 1


Postby Candid » Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:07 am

Keeping work and social life separate isn't the answer here. These people have a beef with you and it was bound to come out sooner or later.

I suggest you now address the issue in the workplace. If management is happy with what you do, you have nothing to fear. These are personal issues, people who don't like you or don't like the way you do things.

You can either bulldoze ahead or you can raise the issue with them and find out exactly what's bothering them. Sometimes workmates dislike each other for no reason. It may come down to a choice for you: would you rather be popular or just get on with your work? Keep a cool head, let them list specific grievances, be reasonable and approachable. It may be possible to reach a compromise so everyone's happy, but when you walk away from this confrontation the most important thing is that you feel good about yourself.

I wish you luck and hope you'll tell us how this works out.
Posts: 8953
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:00 am
Likes Received: 425


Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:20 am

mmacc2011 wrote:... two of them started bitching about me as if I wasn't there, telling me how they really dislike how I do X, Y and Z. Noone has brought this to my attention in work,
...dont investigate friendships with them anymore.

I see the situation differently.

They didn’t tell you at work, because you were not friends. They kept quiet, BECAUSE it was a work relationship. What they wanted to say was for friendship, to a friend, in a friendly environment. They felt comfortable talking in front of you about it, right in front of you, so that you could hear, in an environment intended for friends, not intended for a work colleague.

And instead of recognizing it as bonding, as people feeling comfortable enough around you to share with you how they felt, you decided to be offended, to reject the social bonding as not an act or offer of friendship.

In other words, it is the very fact that they had found themselves in a position where friendship was on the table that they felt comfortable opening up and talking about you in front of you. They would never do that at work, because you don’t do that with a colleague.

The above is speculation, but it is a reasonable conclusion:

Work = colleague = less trust = uncomfortable bringing up X or Y issue.

Social = friend = more trust = comfortable bringing up X or Y issue.
Posts: 10928
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:25 am
Likes Received: 1136


Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun Nov 11, 2018 2:47 am

One more thing to add to the above. The idea of separating work from social is a luxury of modern society and it is not necessarily a good idea. Separation is a way to dehumanize our colleagues, placing them in a different category than our friends. It makes it easier to disassociate, to fire them, to treat them as a resource to be expended.

In my previous lines of work, being in the military and law enforcement, the idea that you might keep the two separate is laughable. You are in the field, sometimes for several weeks. You are around each other 24/7. There is no “work” and then “social” as you are a single community that doesn’t have the luxury of parting ways after 9 hours each day. In the 1st responder community, it is equally a challenge. Trust is a huge part of the job. You want friends that have your back. You know they will come in and help if you are in trouble, not because it is their work duty, but because they are your friend that has met your family, that has broken bread with you. You are not just officer 318 that can be replaced. You are Richard, the guy that came over with his truck and helped you move last week.

Pre-industrial age, separation of work and social was rare. Communities were smaller. Everyone knew everyone, both professionally and personally. Keep this in mind when you think it might be a good idea to treat your colleagues differently than your social group.
Posts: 10928
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:25 am
Likes Received: 1136


Postby lol4er » Tue Jan 29, 2019 1:59 pm

I try to separate work and social life, but very often there is a small time for the latter
Junior Member
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:44 pm
Likes Received: 1

  • Similar Topics
    Last post

Return to Workplace Psychology