How to keep your work life from getting personal

Keeping your personal and professional life separate might seem difficult, but sometimes it’s necessary to keep a healthy balance between the two.

Sydney Novak

Relationship boundaries can be difficult to define in the work place, especially if you consider your co-workers your peers. It’s important to remember the nature of these friendships and how they can potentially help or harm you in the long run. 

“The biggest issue [when it comes to hanging out outside the workplace] is going to be when there are significant power differences,” said Patrick Armstrong, associate professor of psychology.

Armstrong said he suggests avoiding conflicts of interest, particularly when there is the issue of evaluation and power differences between two people engaging socially.

When the stress of work starts to negatively impact your personal life, it’s important to remember what kind of balance you want in your life overall. An issue many young people face in the professional world is entering the workforce at an entry-level job that more often than not is looking to “test” your capability. This competition in the work place naturally pushes you to do more. 

Young people entering the work force can often be taken advantage of if they are not careful. When it comes to salary negotiations, the interviewer asks the question of desired salary for two reasons. They are interested in gauging how much (or little) they can pay you, as well as how much you actually know about the value of this position, Armstrong said.

The importance of knowing what you are capable and entitled to in terms of compensation is going to be very critical to having an ideal work-life balance and from letting either one take over the other. Setting boundaries with co-workers and remembering the importance of maintaining appropriate relationships with superiors can make work a lot easier. 

“People also invest a lot of their identity in their careers,” Armstrong said. “One of the first questions you ask somebody is, ‘What do you do?’” 

This personal investment in your career and in the professional world may be questionable if you don’t love the job you do. It’s important to find other elements of life that you identify with and to not let work consume your entire life.