Appropriate work relationships
While it is nice to get along with coworkers, it is important to know what is appropriate, and what is not when it comes to work relationships. Often people avoid friendships at work for fear of awkwardness, but then hate work as a result. Other times, people go to the opposite side, date coworkers, and befriend them. So which is appropriate?
When it comes to office relationships the first consideration is what is your office policy? Some offices have hard and fast rules about what relationships are considered appropriate, and which are not. They may tell you that you can befriend coworkers, but that there is no inner-office dating allowed. So, check with your human resource department to be sure you know what the rules are. In addition, be sure you follow those rules. If the rules state you can date, but you have to let HR know, then be sure you do so.
Second consider the consequences of relationships at work. If you become friends with people in your office, work can be a lot more fun. However, what happens when you get in a spat? What if you date someone at your work and break up with them? You have to prioritize your work versus forming relationships. If you befriend your boss, and then piss them off because you blow off their SuperBowl party, is your job going to be in jeopardy? Even though it seems extreme that you could be fired over a personal matter, it happens, and people are people. So, account for human nature, and keep that in mind when determining what kind of relationships you want to have in your office.
Third, find a good balance. The smartest thing to do when it comes to relationships with coworkers is to develop a friendly relationship, but one that is limited to work, and lunch breaks. You might eat lunch with them every few days, but rarely, if ever hang out or talk outside of work. This is a good way to keep things in an appropriate manner. Talk about topics like politics, popular subjects, and work concerns, but avoid the too personal, or things that may be inappropriate to discuss at work. This will allow you to keep your office a professional space, and not ever put you in danger of problems like sexual harassment, or favoritism, etc.
Appropriate work relationship can be very similar to friendships, taking a real interest in people and their lives, but doing so in a way that does not add too much emotional distraction or confusion to the work environment. Some people work well with friends and family, but for most, the problems outside of work might seep in and contaminate the work environment, or the other way around. Thus, it is best to keep these two aspects of your life separate if you can. It would be ideal to have a fun and friendly place to work, where everyone went out after and hung out as friends, but it is not a realistic expectation, and often comes fraught with problems.