Office Politics: When Friends Become Bosses

Q. My friend got me a job with her company. But six months later, she's driving me nuts. She talks about her two boyfriends all day and orders me around like a child, even in front of customers. I don't know what to do anymore. I really want to tell her off, but when we go out, we have a lot of fun. Calgon, take her away!

A. Your friend isn't just your friend anymore. Now that she is a coworker, the rules of the relationship have changed. If you don't manage this transition consciously, both your work and your personal life will suffer even more.

Talk to her about how you communicate in front of clients. Do it nicely by saying, "I'm concerned that by being so casual with each other we aren't presenting ourselves well to clients. For example, the other day when you said 'X' it made me uncomfortable, and I think it might have been an issue for the client too."

As for her talking about her boyfriends at work, tell her that you want to reflect well on her (since she brought you in) so you need to focus on work. That means that you don't have time to listen to a lot of boyfriend stuff. While you're at it, ask her whether she is uncomfortable with anything you're doing. Chances are that if you are feeling uncomfortable and irritated with her, she is feeling the same way about you.

You can also make the line between work and friendship even sharper by telling her that you don't want to talk about work outside the office because you'd rather just enjoy her and the things you have in common.

These relationships are tricky, and you have to work at them to make them work. For lots of reasons, it sounds like this one is worth it.

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