Office Politics 101: From friendship to . . . ?
Q: A guy I work with — and quite like — has invited me to go hiking with him for the weekend. We’d be staying in a cabin with another unmarried couple. It sounds like fun, but I’m also a bit hesitant. Your thoughts?
A: Most friendships begin at work, so it’s not surprising you have been presented with this opportunity. It also must be nice to have received this invitation as you have some feelings for him.
You are both single which, of course, allows you to consider a relationship. Nonetheless, your hesitancy is understandable and I presume you wish to be cautious and not place yourself in an awkward situation.
Your decision to accept or decline the invitation is very much a personal matter but, at the same time, you should also consider the optics of what could transpire, even after the weekend.
Gossip can be found in many offices and, should you decide to go with him, it is probable others will learn about it, even if you decide not to mention it. Gossipers, unfortunately, don’t have a particular affection for the truth and may make flawed assumptions about the relationship.
In addition, you should consider how you believe the friendship might progress if you were to accept the invitation. While you quite like him — as you note — it is quite another thing to begin a trajectory which may take you in a direction which offers significant momentum.
Remember, too, that should you go away for the weekend, your relationship with him will almost certainly be altered — even if you are not intimate in any way.
One further note: if the fellow is your supervisor — or in a more senior position — you probably should be even more wary. Under these conditions, he is in a position of authority over you which could complicate your working relationship.
Incidentally, you don’t mention if the other couple is also employed in your office. If one or both of them also work with you, it may impact any future communication on the job.
To a large extent, your decision will likely be based on trust. If you respect him and feel he has your best interests in mind, you might accept; if, on the other hand, you have some misgivings about his character, or do not know him that well, you may decline, at least for now.
Office friendships are to be treasured and valued. It is great you have been invited for a fun weekend, but there are other issues you will need to address. Any decision should be considered with careful reflection and a sense of how the relationship might grow.
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