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What Constitutes a Professional Relationship?


It is important for people to develop professional relationships in order for them to succeed in the workplace or during a job search. Many people do not completely understand what constitutes a professional relationship or they have a hard time keeping their personal relationships separate from their professional ones. By having a clear perspective on both types of relationships you will have a greater chance in succeeding in your professional life.

What is a Personal Relationship?

A personal relationship is a friendship that you have with another person. This person is someone that you can talk to about your struggles as well as your celebrations. Personal relationships are developed with family members, friends, your spouse, etc. You do not want to develop strong personal relationships within the workplace. You want to keep work relationships more professional.

What is a Professional Relationship?

Whether you are currently job hunting or you already have a place of employment you need to make sure you are being professional. By building strong professional relationships you are helping yourself to advance within your company in the future or it can lead to opening doors for new professions down the road.

A professional relationship is just that....professional. Meaning that you do not want to talk to your boss or other employees as you talk to your spouse, best friend, etc. When you start sharing to many details about your personal life you begin to make the relationship more personal.

Professional Relationships and Social Media

With sites like Facebook and Twitter in full swing you need to be cautious about what type of information you are sharing and with whom you are sharing it. Post pictures of your crazy weekend partying on sites where your fellow employees and/or bosses can easily see it may not be a good idea. Even though you are having fun on "your own" time, it can still be reflected on the company that employees you. So just be careful with what you share on these type of sites.

Dating within the Workplace

Dating within the workplace is often not allowed. The reason behind this is that if you are having relationship problems or a bad break up you still have to face each other every day at work. This can be quite uncomfortable not only for you but for other employees as well. It can effect you work and the work of others causing the company to also feel the burden of your problems. So try not to date within the workplace. If you decide to date someone you are working with make sure it does not violate any of the companies conduct rule before hand.

Keeping Work Professional

By keeping your work relationships professional you will be setting yourself up for success in the future. When working with people for a long time you may feel it is impossible to not get on a personal level, but you can have a "human" relationship with others without it becoming too personal. We are not robots and relationships to grow between two people, you just need to keep the personal details to a minimum. You are employed to do a job, not hang out with your friends.

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Other Types of Professional Relationships

Everyone has a number of professional relationships outside of the workplace. Here are a few examples of people you will develop professional relationships with throughout your lifetime.

  • Your Doctor and/or your Child's Doctor
  • Your Child's Teachers
  • Your Teachers
  • Any person you conduct business with


Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on June 26, 2012:

These days, it is getting harder and harder to distinguish personal from professional relationships. This advice is super helpful- here's hoping more people adhere to it!

Jill Kostowskie (author) from Pennsylvania on June 23, 2012:

leahlefler - You are right by saying dating inside the workplace doesn't work for many people. I am glad your company allowed for you and your husband to start dating. Even though it is against some company policies you can not always stop the fate of two people falling for each other! I think the stigma of dating inside the workplace stems from too many bad breakups affecting the atomsphere for the other employees.

Leah Lefler from Western New York on June 22, 2012:

Relationships in the workplace are far different from personal relationships! My husband and I met at work and it was an interesting situation when we started dating. We were equal colleagues and it was fine (as far as the company was concerned). We've been married for 10 years and have worked in 2 countries and 2 different states... always together! We're definitely not the norm, though, and this wouldn't work for very many people!

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