Navigating the Choppy Waters: Working with Friends and Family

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If a friend left a 3-star review for your book with an explicit explanation of what they didn’t like…

would it affect your friendship?
Source: Anna Shvets,

Deciding to Work with Friends and Family

In the pursuit of professional success, we often seek out opportunities to collaborate with like-minded individuals. Friends and family, with their shared values and inherent trust, seem like ideal candidates for such partnerships. However, the seemingly perfect equation of merging personal relationships with professional endeavors can often prove to be a complex arithmetic that challenges even the most well-intentioned partnerships.

Communication is Key

One of the primary challenges when working with friends and family is maintaining a clear distinction between personal and professional roles. Conversations that used to revolve around hobbies, movies, and vacations now intertwine with discussions about deadlines, tasks, and responsibilities. Balancing these roles becomes crucial, as blurred boundaries can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and potential resentment. Establish ground rules from the outset, defining when and where you’ll discuss work matters and when you’ll set aside time for personal interactions.

When working with friends and family, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that the shared bond will lead to seamless teamwork and mutual understanding. However, this assumption can set the stage for unrealistic expectations. People are still individuals with their own strengths, weaknesses, and ways of approaching tasks. Expecting your friend or family member to always be on the same wavelength as you might lead to disappointment when differences arise. It’s important to approach the partnership with an open mind and a willingness to adapt. Talk to each other about expectations and find ways to compromise.

Honest feedback is a cornerstone of personal and professional growth. However, when working with friends and family, the lines between candid critique and protecting feelings can become blurry. People might be hesitant to offer constructive criticism for fear of damaging the relationship. This can create an environment where problems are ignored or go unaddressed, ultimately hindering progress. To overcome this challenge, establish a culture of open communication and encourage each other to provide honest feedback, ensuring that it is delivered and received with the intention of improvement.

It Can Be Done

While working with friends and family can present significant challenges, it’s not an endeavor that should be avoided altogether. By acknowledging the potential pitfalls and proactively implementing strategies to address them, it is possible to navigate these choppy waters successfully. Clear communication, a willingness to adapt, and a commitment to maintaining the integrity of the personal relationship while pursuing professional goals can help strike a balance that allows for both collaboration and personal growth. It’s a journey that requires effort from all parties involved, but the rewards can be profound – a shared sense of accomplishment and the strengthening of bonds that go beyond the realms of work.

Picture of AJ Jewell

AJ Jewell

Amber "AJ" Jewell started at in 2016 as a part-time admin assistant, quickly moving to be the 'Duchess of Flow" - making sure that the office is flowing smoothing. AJ is also an award-nominated author, homeschooling parent of three, an avid reader, and a college student.
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