Workplace Pro Tip: Get a Better Grasp of the Office “Frenemy”

Love-hate relationships in the workplace are inevitable. The important thing for association pros is to understand them when they emerge—and get ahead of them.

Try as we might, not everyone is going to be your friend in the office.

But even if a workplace relationship is frenemy-like, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from it.

In fact, it might just teach you a thing or two about navigating personalities in the workplace.

What’s the Strategy?

Simply put: Observe those relationships when they emerge, and take the time to understand how they affect you and your job.

If you pull that off, it might just put you way ahead of many of your coworkers, according to a recent BBC story—or at the very least, help to defuse a potentially disastrous situation. After all, not many folks even think of the issues that frenemies create.

“If frenemies, in general, have been understudied, then their role in workplace politics is even less well understood,” author David Robson wrote. “This is a shame, since many job environments may be particularly ripe for the creation and maintenance of ambivalent relationships.”

Why Is It Effective?

Frenemies could prove useful in making you more productive at work—as they might play into your competitive spirit—while giving you a reason to disengage when you’re off the clock, according to Inc. contributor Kevin Daum.

“Even if you’re overly emotionally engaged because you love the people you work with, it’s important to have some space between your home life and your work life. Building more frenemy relationships can solve this problem,” Daum wrote. “You like your colleagues, and enjoy working with them, but you’re not caught up in petty, unproductive matters. When you leave the office, work stays where it should.”

What’s the Potential?

Of course, observing frenemies when they appear can potentially save your bacon when that competitive fervor appears in a coworker.

In a post for, Robert DiGiacomo breaks down different kinds of workplace frenemies who can affect your job or disrupt your flow—whether it’s time-wasters or those who are gunning for your position. Being aware of it and pointing it out early could stop the behavior in its tracks, according to workplace author Donna Flagg.

“Once they’re outed, they become more self-conscious of their behavior, and it’s less likely they’ll do it again,” Flagg told the website.

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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