Daily Archives: October 19, 2012

The Tricky Business of Keeping in Touch with Exes

When you leave a workplace, you may also be leaving behind friends and mentors. With three out of four people putting in more than 40 hours a week at work, it’s likely that a few co-workers have turned into friends. Or, perhaps you’ve developed a strong mentorship with someone at your workplace. So what happens to that relationship when you leave your job? Here are two situations where the relationship may stick around without the tie of the workplace. 

Common Ground
Making friends as an adult can be hard. It’s not like college or high school when the typical weekend party, sports activities, or family gatherings fostered new friendships. If you’ve made a good friend at work, or created a circle of friends, you may not want to give that up so easily. This can be especially true if you’ve found common ground with a co-worker, such as being newly married, raising kids, or caring for senior parents. Support in handling these stages of life is invaluable, and it’s possible that your friendship outside of being co-workers can continue because of your commonalities.

To help continue your friendships after you’ve left a job, remember these few invaluable tips. Keep your focus on your friendship, and avoid discussing workplace gossip which can only end badly for both sides. Once a co-worker is longer a team member, the trials and celebrations of your workplace should really not be shared since they no longer work there. Likewise, if you’ve left a workplace, but have remained friends with a co-worker, don’t pressure them into telling you the details of the latest staff meeting. Of course, you might be reaching out for support in creating work/life balance or celebrating a promotion, but the daily grind should be left out. Additionally, announcing to your co-workers that you are spending time with a former employee isn’t necessary. Your personal life is private, and it’s not really important for you to broadcast who you are spending time with, whether they are former co-workers or not.

Professional Development
If you’ve found a great mentor at your current workplace, one of you leaving could be one of the best things to happen to your relationship. No longer will your mentorship be tainted with company politics. You can seek advice about the best direction for your career without having to worry about how that plan fits into your mutual workplace or aligns with company goals. Plus, it makes your mentor an objective third-party bringing fresh perspective to your situations. And, now that one of you is doing something new it may be a chance for you both to learn something new.

You may also want to stay in touch with past co-workers because you work in the same industry and if you’re in the same town, you’ll likely cross paths again. You don’t need to have frequent lunch dates or constant emails, but if there are a few former co-workers that you know are great networkers, keeping ahold of their contact information isn’t a bad thing. You never know when you might be searching for a job again, or looking for help with a project. Be careful not to burn any bridges you may need to cross later, you never know where life may take you.

How have you handled relationships when you’ve left a workplace, or had a friend leave your workplace?