Throughout my career, I have never believed in keeping separate lives for personal and professional fronts, as people say. One big reason for this might be that I started my career in a startup, and have worked mostly with startups where the work culture and environment was uber-cool and the person sitting next to you was a friend first and colleague later.
There have been times where I have been advised to keep my personal and professional lives separate, and to think and act only professionally while at work. I myself have thought (for a brief duration) that keeping this separation was the way for peak performance, but I have failed miserably whenever I have tried that. In this article I will share my views about why this separation between personal and professional life no longer works. It might have worked a few decades earlier, but in this age of facebook and twitter, I don’t think peak performance is possible if we keep our personal self at home.
1. Sharing our Feelings Bring People Closer
It is no secret that honestly opening up to another person and being authentic about a situation taps to the deepest levels of the listener and helps to forge trustworthy relationships for the future. By sharing something which touches or moves another, we are building bonds of trust which will not only give us a friend but also a colleague who will be fun and easy to work with, and produce greater results.
2. Bring Yourself to Work Fully
Whoever thinks that emotions have no role to play in professional decisions probably has a blind tied over his/her eyes. We can put on a ‘all-work’ mask, but it is only a mask, as our emotions (and the level of comfort and trust) plays a big part in any business decision. We can try to pretend that we will not let our personal lives affect our work and vice versa, but the truth is that they do. People act differently at work depending upon the mood at work, because as human beings, a parent will not stop worrying about their child just because they are in ‘office‘.
3. Leaders are Humans too, and Leadership is not Perfect
Leadership (and leaders) are no longer seen as super humans, who are meant to be admired and respected, and their word followed like a war order. These days, true leaders are seen vulnerable to the same emotions we all are, and they generate more trust and loyalty by being authentic rather than being perfect. If you are late to office because of a personal reason, there is no point in hiding it just for the sake of personal / professional divide.
4. Working with Friends is Always More Fun
Nobody wants to spend 8 hours (the biggest chunk) of our waking lives daily with bozos. Life gets much more interesting when we are doing what we like to do, and with people we like to interact with. Working in a field which excites you in the company of friends makes work so much easier. We all know how difficult passing the eight hours at work becomes when there are just colleagues and no friends. Friends can make time fly by and you won’t even realize you are working. It also raises the productivity level of you as an individual and the team as a whole.
Having said that, this article should not be interpreted as a case for taking your work home or letting personal come in the way of work. What I want to say through the above points is that we can be much more interactive if we see our clients and colleagues as people first, and not stop ourself from understanding or forging a friendship with them just because personal lives must be kept apart (as per popular advice).