How to Manage When Social Life Comes in the Workplace

How to Manage When Social Life Comes in the Workplace


After seeing Glee's Lea Michele at the Emmy's, we heard her talk about working with Britney Spears on an episode expected to air in September. Lea Michele is quoted as saying that Britney "was so professional." This led us to a discussion of what it's like to work with people, and the best ways to do business with friends.

For example: Recently, a female web designer we know was asked by her friend to create a website; when everything was said and done, that friend bought her flowers as thanks. The web designer, however, was hoping to be paid for work that would have otherwise brought her over $1,000. But, for fear of being rude, she told her friend that the flowers were beautiful and dropped the issue.

Women are infamous for undervaluing themselves. Ten years out of college, they make 23% less than their male counterparts. Doing business with friends can be a rewarding experience (and an opportunity to see friends at work), but keep these 3 things in mind when mixing work-life and social-life:

1. It’s Business Time

When your friend asks for a service—whether she’s making an appointment with you as a doctor, web designer, or masseuse—set clear boundaries from the outset. If there’s even a little gray area, don’t wait until the end to demand compensation. After all, you don’t want to hear: “Oh, um, I’m sorry, I thought this would be free because we’re friends…”

2. Make a Fair Trade of Services

Say that you’re an accountant, and your friend offers her services as a hair colorist in exchange for help with her taxes. Don’t simply trade one session of your time for one session of hers. If you charge $150 per hour and plan to spend two hours with her—and she charges $100 per hair dye job—then arrange for her to dye your hair three times for free, so that you’re getting the fairest trade. Friendship doesn’t mean inequality or undervaluing your own work.

3. Learn to Be Friends and Business Partners

It’s often trickier to discuss money with friends than it is with business partners, and it’s nearly always more difficult to negotiate with someone you see socially. All the same, if you are thinking of going into business with a friend or family member, it’s even more crucial to discuss money openly. Although this may be awkward at first, disagreements over finances can wreck your relationships. Prevent these by creating a written document with your plan for working together, the division of labor, and exactly how you plan to deal with money.

Doing business with friends can be valuable because it shows that you value each other’s intelligence and business savvy. But, before you go all in, make sure to discuss everything openly, because a small amount of awkwardness now has the potential to protect important relationships that you’ve spent years building.


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