Mixing business with personal matters leads to damaged relationships, and poor business decisions. Is it a fair statement?Is it unwise advice?

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drmonica's profile pic

drmonica | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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I believe that it is completely possible to become friends with employees, coworkers, and superiors. There is nothing wrong with those friendships carrying over into off-duty time, and it happens frequently. Some of my closest personal friends are people I have worked with, and some of them have worked for me in the past.

The most problematic situations seem to occur with romantic relationships. There is good reason for companies to have policies against managers dating subordinates. There is too much potential for abuse of company trust if a manager supervises someone s/he is romantically involved with. However, I don't think that trying to prevent coworkers from dating each other is either enforceable or necessary.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Business is such a broad term, as is friend.  As long as the business is not subordinate to the friendship, it can be a successful venture.  As soon as the friendship (or the relationship) takes precedence, the business is in jeopardy.  Obviously there is a general interweaving between people and business in any successful ventures, because business can rarely be conducted in a vacuum.  Even the most "cubicle-oriented," individualized tasks are impacted by the relationships and work environment of the people who do them. Anyone who tries to dissociate relationships from tasks is likely to have a high employee turnover rate; likewise, anyone who promotes relationships over business is unlikely to be a business owner for very long. 

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I agree with many of the statements made here.  If people are mature and professional, personal relationships should not effect the workplace or vice versa.  However, professionalism and maturity are the key words.  I know many people who have met at work, romance bloomed, and they are still married with children today.  In one instance, I have a good friend who married and brought her husband on board at the family business.  They have since divorced, but they still work together--the divorce was amicable and at least professionally, the relationship hasn't been damaged.  However, there are just as many horror stories.  I humbly suggest that it depends on the individuals in question, their level of professionalism and maturity, and the level of commitment to the success of both facets of the relationship.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I think this statement has validity in one clear instance: If the person with whom you are doing business is a friend first - and not especially skilled at the business - it can certainly be a friendship breaker when these lines cross.

Imagine you know someone for a long time from the gym, let's say.  You've worked out together for years, started hanging out as friends (your spouses get along, your families eat dinner together, etc.) and you know this person is a real estate agent.  Of course, when it comes time for you to move, you can't go with anyone else.  But it turns out said friend isn't any good at her job.  Now there is this difficult blur of friend relationship and professional relationship.  A true professional wouldn't take it personally - but if she's already bad at her job - she's likely not a true professional.

I can see the point made that meeting AT WORK can result in a fabulous personal relationship.  I think your statement is completely true when the friendship comes first and the professional relationship after.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Although the post may be true in some cases, people who meet at work also produce happy marriages, long-term friendships and successful business partnerships. As a teacher, some of my best friends are those with whom I have worked, and on more than one occasion, compatible business relationships have also developed. While there is little room for romance in the workplace, friendships that do develop at work can also lead to a better unified working environment.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The previous posts make some extremely valid points, in particular #4. I find it hard to think of any situations where the boundary lines between work and home are so firmly constructed that there is no overlap. Certainly there are cases where mixing work and life can be disastrous, but at the same time there are plenty of examples of husband-wife teams working successfully together, so maybe it is a matter of individuals and their temperament rather than anything else.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The previous post has made some valid points.  I think that I see it from a more pragmatic point of view that makes the statement valid.  There seems to be a reason that the realm of "business" is distinct from the realm of the "private."  I have found that it is bad business sense to bring one's personal matters into the fold.  I think that this applies to dating and relationship in the workplace.  Perhaps, the idea of dating itself is not bad.  Yet, if the relationship ends in an acrimonious manner, I think that it really complicates matters in the work setting.  It makes daily life much more difficult and creates a very destructive atmosphere.  The work environment is simply not emotionally suited to help one deal with the personally destructive and painful elements of a broken relationship.  In such situations, I think that business decisions are complicated with “emotional baggage.”  I think it is for this reason that businesses usually discourage such relationships in the work setting.

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dano7744 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

I respectfully disagree that mixing business with pleasure or personal matters damages relationships and leads to poor business decisions. Conducting business, any type of business, must have a strong foundation of trust to succeed. Business relationships are formed first by interpersonal skills used by the vendor and vendee. As a general rule, people do business with people they know and trust.

What leads to damaged relationships either as friends or spouses or lovers is the personalities and habits of the participants, not the fact that they are in business together. Being in business with others often strengthens relationships because of a common goal of developing a thriving enterprise. Having a personal interest in business partners often makes for better business decisions.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

It is now a widely accepted view among behavioral science experts and business managers that it is neither possible or desirable to divide the life of individuals in separate watertight compartments of personal life on one hand and business or professional life on the other.

People engage in business and profession not just for the money or other material benefits they earn through it. They perform their work also for the pleasure of doing a a particular type of work, of being part of their work group, and satisfaction of achieving some thing worthwhile and realising their potential. All these are very personal feeling that are affected by and in turn affect the business activities.

For example, who shows concern for possible problems a at home faced by a subordinate who report late for duty, is more likely to win the support and cooperation of his subordinates, as compared to a supervisor who takes disciplinary action against late coming behavior without any distinction.

Of course, too much mixing of personal consideration with the business work, can be bad. In particular it is not desirable to let the motive of personal gain override the achievement of business objectives. Mixing of personal considerations with business is desirable only to the extent it improves the motivation and performance of individuals and groups in the organization.

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