Friends Indeed

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Friends Indeed

By Jon Harris">Jon HarrisIn standard14th July, 2017

Friends Indeed


Every manager needs to grasp the difference between the separate concepts of ‘being friends’ and ‘being friendly’.  It’s rather hard to manage your friends, but it’s rather hard *not* to manage using a friendly manner.

So where’s the line?  How do you know what to talk about, and in what manner; so that you appear open, friendly, honest, trustworthy, encouraging and charismatic, without appearing over-friendly, desperate to be liked, anxious about contact and a pushover when it comes to sending a tough message?

If you are finding this hard, I encourage you to think about *exactly what* you share about your personal life, and your internal world, with others in your team.

Sharing hard, unemotional *facts* about your personal life is always useful, for example “I studied in Sheffield”, “My mother lives in Djakarta”, and “I usually go to the gym twice a week”.

If people already know these things about you, keep adding other details.  The more trivial, and the more gently self-deprecating, the better.  I recently watched one of the best leaders I know send her team off feeling better about a difficult task, simply by telling them a short, silly (but true) story about running around various shops the previous evening to find particular ingredients for a meal.

I suggest that you draw a line between these kinds of facts, and feelings.  By all means share your feelings about *work*: do say, for example “I’m angry that our supplier has done that”, or “I’m uncomfortable with us bidding for that work because…”   You can also go a step further, and talk in a friendly way about topical matters (it might be wise to steer clear of politics, depending on the culture of your organisation).

But the place you can firmly draw the line is this: never speak to your team about how you feel in the realm of your internal world, insofar as that relates to your personal relationships with anyone else.

That, for me, is the difference between your staff and your friends.



Jon Harris



2 thoughts on “Friends Indeed”

  1. Well. I have been employed in establishments as the the only staff member to one of thousands. Everyone is human. Some immediate superiors (seniors) really only have their own interests at heart and will talk about themselves ad infinitum. Some are dismissive and again have no interest in their subordinates. It is a rare find to have the person that you describe as your boss. And it IS the most comfortable speaking as the employee. A subtle distance is absolutely crucial for good work relations.

    Well written. And well observed.

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