Matt Le Blanc as Joey Tribbiani, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green and Courteney Cox as Monica Geller on NBC’s “Friends.”
Success has many benefits, including a sense of accomplishment and monetary gain.
But one of the downsides to success is that it can drive you apart from your friends, says psychologist Cicely Horsham-Brathwaite.
Horsham-Brathwaite tells CNBC Make It that when you’re focused on success and career, relationships are a “benign neglect.”
“It’s not intentional,” she says, “but it happens, especially with friends.”
The psychologist, who has over 15 years of experience, says that these are the top three ways that success can drive you apart from your friends. She also offers advice on how to keep it from happening:
1. Work takes up all of your time
“Work takes up so much of our life and personal time that we are really more focused on that than other areas of our life,” says Horsham-Brathwaite.
Even when we’re not in the office, she says, we still check our work phones and work emails, which allows “work time” to creep into our personal time.
Particularly in large cities like New York, there are certain cultural beliefs around success that say you have to identify with your work, according to the psychologist. When we first meet someone, we inquire as to what someone does professionally, she says.
“In New York we define ourselves by what we do,” she says. “It leads our life perspective and so people lessen how much time they carve out for themselves and their relationships.”
Horsham-Brathwaite says that in her clinic, she warns her clients against packing their schedule with only work-related activities. The psychologist says that making time for solid relationships is crucial because it helps you grow, both in and out of the workplace. However, she warns, that doesn’t mean holding onto every friend that you have.
“As you advance, your circle becomes smaller and smaller,” she says. “So refine what your circle looks like and look for people who will bring you nurturance.”
2. You think differently than your friends
As you move higher in your career, it’s only natural that you begin to see things in a different light, says Horsham-Brathwaite.
Imagine that a friend, who is in a lower position than you, is complaining about something a manager has said or done, she says. Your leadership skills will make you see things differently than her and you are likely to see the issue more “systematically,” says the psychologist.
“Depending on your work, how long you’ve been in the field and your professional identity,” says Horsham-Brathwaite, “you may not have the same framework and mindset as the people around you.”
Horsham-Brathwaite says that this can affect the insight that you bring to conversations with the people around as well as your interests in their conversation topics
“Your view of the world becomes different as you move up,” she says. However, she says, finding common ground and keeping an open mind can help strengthen these personal relationships and make the conversations much more engaging.
3. You deal with sensitive information
Since work is such a major part of our identity, it’s only natural that it’s the first thing we discuss at social gatherings.
We ask questions like: “How was work?” “What did you do at work today?” “Anything fun happen at work?”
But as you advance, says Horsham-Brathwaite, sometimes you’re dealing with information that’s highly sensitive.
As a result, it can be difficult to open up to your friends because there are certain things that you just can’t share, she says.
“It creates a sense of distance between yourself and the people around you,” says the psychologist. To combat this, you can give general statements about your work day or be honest about the fact that you can’t discuss certain things.
In fact, says Horsham-Brathwaite, “we need to normalize that as you become more successful, you change who you are.
“But friends are necessary to emotional well-being,” she says, “which improves your productivity and betters your work.”