Do you spend a bulk of your time at work with your favorite coworker — perhaps a work wife or husband you adore?
According to a survey from digital media company Captivate, 75 percent of business professionals report having or previously having a work spouse. Perhaps that's largely because, according to another 2015 study, work wives and husbands have “high levels of disclosure and support, and mutual trust, honesty, loyalty and respect.”
But what if your work spouse is mentally draining you, despite how much you appreciate your friendship? Here are seven signs that your favorite colleague is actually draining your energy, and preventing you from performing to your best ability.
1. They vent to you all day.
Do you spend most of your mornings listening to stories about your coworkers bad dates? How about the projects they're working on that they really don't feel like doing that day? Is it keeping you from doing the projects that you have to do that day?
Even if you love chit-chatting with this person, if you're listening to them vent all day, it's likely consuming your energy. This is especially true if you're taking on all of their setbacks as your own, and you're not getting a chance to vent yourself. Your friendships at work should be two-way streets with mutual respect for and understanding of each other's obligations.
2. You're more productive when they're not around.
Do you get most of your work done when you're not around your favorite coworker? Perhaps this is because you're more productive when you're not goofing off, chit-chatting or venting with this person. While your favorite coworker might be a great person with whom to spend your time outside of the office (and even during your breaks or on your lunch hour!), this person might be draining you of your energy when you need to get your work done.
3. They guilt you into taking breaks with them.
Does your coworker constantly ping you about grabbing lunch or sneaking out of the office for a quick break? Do they guilt you into stepping out with them when you're in the middle of something? As tempting as it can be to spend time with your favorite colleague, it's important that you prioritize your work.
Maybe it doesn't feel like your coworker is draining you of your energy — after all, they're encouraging you to take a breather. But if they're constantly cutting into your crunch time, the stress of not getting your work done will eventually eat at you.
4. They're not genuinely thrilled about your accomplishments.
Are you always excited for your favorite coworker when they're recognized for one of their achievements? Perhaps you've had a recent accomplishment, but they're not equally as thrilled for you. Again, your more personal relationships with your coworkers should be two-way streets. If you're expending your time and putting forth the effort to advocate for them, you should want the same in return. But battling jealousy is a total energy sucker.
5. They seldom return the favor.
You're constantly covering for your favorite coworker so they can take the day off or even just run out of the office for an appointment. You help them with their tasks because you know they're feeling overwhelmed. And you even bring lunch for them every now and again, because you understand that they've got too much going on at home to pack their own.
But, suddenly, you feel overwhelmed and pressed for time because you're busy doing all of your own work and then some. If your coworker seldom returns the favor, you might want to reconsider how you're spending a lot of your energy.
6. They're full of negative energy.
Maybe your favorite coworker is always funny, there for you, a good listening ear or really hardworking and motivational. But maybe they're also full of negative energy, always putting down other colleagues and knocking the company.
Besides the fact that you never want to be in the middle of workplace gossip or get caught badmouthing anyone at the office (you shouldn't be badmouthing anyone at the office anyway!), your coworker's negativity may be rubbing off on you. If someone is constantly in your ear about how much of a mess the company is, you might start to believe it yourself and take on their thoughts as your own. And who would want to work for a company that they think is a mess? Suddenly, the negativity starts to consume you and you see yourself caring less and slacking off.
7. They make you question yourself.
Perhaps you respect your coworker's opinion so much that you take everything they say too seriously. For example, maybe they're always joking around with you that they don't know how you got the job because you're always being silly. But you actually start to question yourself and your qualifications, even though you know it was just a joke.
If your coworker makes you question your abilities — or, worse, your sanity — it can be incredibly mentally draining going back and forth in your own head.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.