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Social Relationships and Work

Social interactions are an integral part of each person’s life. These relationships can change not only under the personal circumstances but also external factors, such as work. This paper aims to study the social cooperation of people in the workplace using interviews and analyze how the concepts of friendship and relationships change depending on the environment.

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Almost any kind of human activity is somehow related to communication with people. That is why the analysis of social interactions in the workplace is so critical. This sphere of human life imposes certain restrictions and establishes special rules. Studies show that social relationships at work can have a significant impact on a person’s lifestyle and health, in particular, on the immune system (Schermuly & Meyer, 2016). Therefore, the process of creating the right and healthy atmosphere in the workplace is crucial.

Social relations at work have specific unique characteristics and may differ from the regular conversation. Often such cooperations at work can be used to obtain the benefits. One of the surveyed persons, Kate, a library employee, noted that her department colleagues’ connections allowed her to establish excellent relations with superiors. As a result, the presence of links, coupled with exemplary work, led to an increase in her wages. This factor does not mean that friendship in the workplace does not exist. However, it often imposes restrictions in the form of subordination. Initially, people at different social ladder positions form indulgent relations with subordinates and more respectful with superiors. In most cases, a certain distance is maintained between representatives of different levels of the company.

Friendship in the workplace can often be made between persons at the similar level of the career ladder. The basis for the formation of friendly relations, in this case, is primarily a similar position of individuals and the presence of at least one common interest in the form of work. As a rule, people working in one have approximately the same engagements. Such friendship has unique characteristics; for example, communication at the workplace is limited by the need to engage in tasks. However, according to studies, having a friendly atmosphere increases productivity, as colleagues can support and help each other (Watanabe & Falci, 2016). Another feature of these relationships is their attachment to a particular workplace, as the most significant part of communication often occurs during business hours. According to one of the respondents, Ann, a secretary in a state organization, she had many friends at her previous employment. However, they rarely met together after duty, and with Ann moving to another company, relations became much less close. Thus, friendship at work is a rather useful phenomenon but often does not last long.

Additionally, one of the peaks of social associations between people is the formation of intimate relationships that are much more complex in the context of work. Firstly, this is a rare occurrence, since such a close attraction to another person occurs less frequently. Secondly, intimate bonds almost always do not correspond to the norms of the company. Such limitations exist because building intimate relationships is hard for emotional work (Horne & Johnson, 2018). Accordingly, it is challenging to fulfill job responsibilities and try to establish romantic connections with a colleague at the same time.

Thus, the characteristic of intimate relationships in the workplace is their rarity and a possible hindrance to the normal work process. However, this will happen in the case of the formation of relations between colleagues. If relationships are built first, and after that, teamwork appears, then the effect of intimacy on the process will be completely different. In this case, a pair can support each other even better than a couple of friends. This is a case of one of the respondents, Arthur, a professional video blogger. He began his activities simultaneously with his wife, which led to the successful career development of both.

All the social interactions described above are built on such an important concept as self-disclosure. This principle implies communication with another person, during which the speaker’s personal information is revealed (Schlosser, 2019). That approach is the most common in the conversation since the achievement of the honest and close relationships is impossible without exposing feelings and emotions to another person. Accordingly, intimate relationships cannot develop fully without the presence of self-disclosure. However, this does not mean that the principle has no alternatives and should be used everywhere. The other choice is a concept such as self-presentation, which consists in creating a person’s image of himself in the social world by submitting certain strictly controlled information (Schlosser, 2019). This method allows creating an impression of yourself that is necessary for the particular person. Although this method cannot build intimate relationships, it can be used to produce a successful career image at work, which will positively affect productivity.

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Thus, social relations are an integral part of people’s lives and are a necessity at duty. Working interactions have an individual specificity, but friendship leads to many advantages, from increased efficiency to a positive effect on health. Intimate relationships should be singled out in a separate category. It isn’t easy to find a specific definition for them since each such case is unique and should be considered independently. However, it is worth remembering that the work priority is to complete the task; therefore, the concept of self-disclosure should sometimes be replaced by self-presentation.


Horne, R. M., & Johnson, M. D. (2019). A labor of love? Emotion work in intimate relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(4), 1190-1209.

Schermuly, C. C., & Meyer, B. (2016). Good relationships at work: The effects of Leader–Member Exchange and Team–Member exchange on psychological empowerment, emotional exhaustion, and depression. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 37(5), 673-691.

Schlosser, A. E. (2020). Self-disclosure versus self-presentation on social media. Current opinion in psychology, 31, 1-6.

Watanabe, M., & Falci, C. (2017). Workplace faculty friendships and work-family culture. Innovative Higher Education, 42(2), 113-125.

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