Seeing as we spend 40+ hours of our week in the workplace, getting to know our co-workers via bonding over the watercooler and instant coffee is only natural. A general sense of friendliness and openness is conducive to success within a company’s culture, and should be encouraged.

Whether you’re the newbie in uncharted office territory and seeking a work buddy or are trying to tread the fine line between professional workplace relations and a full-fledged friendship, there’s no need to worry—we’ve got you covered!

Your boss is, well, your boss

One common mistake that too many working women make is assuming that their boss is their friend. Although it is completely OK to engage in casual chatter and friendly exchanges with your superiors, always keep in mind that what you say and how you conduct yourself is always on your boss’s radar. Sure, your may have the most laid back, stellar boss in the world, but a high level of respect must be established and consistently held. A few topics that should always be off-limits when interacting with your boss include, but aren’t limited to: personal relationships, rumors about other employees and non-work-related issues.

Workplace gossip

Simply put, workplace gossip should be nonexistent, but it’s bound to happen regardless. Although it may be tempting to chat with your work friends about the latest rumor that Jill from editorial is dating John in the design department, refrain from adding fuel to the fire while you’re in the office. If you must discuss the day-to-day of your co-workers, opt to engage in those discussions in private and after-hours.

Propose a coffee date

Now that we’ve touched on what not to do when handling friendships in the workplace, now it’s time to talk about one of the most effective way to get to know your peers – coffee dates. Asking co-workers to a completely casual Starbucks sit-down is an acceptable and excellent way to grow your professional network and gain a new pool of friends with common interests.

Remember that there is work to be done

After a few months on the job, it’s likely that you’ll have at least one friend in the office. As tempting as it may be to take a Pinterest break or discuss your weekend plans, resist the urge and remember that tending to emails, the tasks at hand and getting the job done is the most important thing. Five o’clock will roll around sooner than you think, and then the friendly chatter may commence.

No matter where you currently work or will work in the future, go into establishing workplace friendships with an open mind, but always keep your professionalism, finesse and wits intact.

This post was originally published on Your Coffee Break.