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Sunday, October 17, 2010

The last blog of 2010

This will be the last blog for FJD for 2010 as I'm moving my blogging to, which is our software development company.

For the past three years we've been working on developing a software for the Financial Services industry, and it's finally ready to rock and roll.

masterQueue is a web-based product that requires ZERO IT footprint.

SaaS in the Financial Services industry is behind the curve, and we've developed our first product around this need.

Reducing charge off expense and "taking the fear out of lending" is what we hope to accomplish for lenders with our first product; masterQueue, a risk identification and workflow tool.

Follow our progress up to and including our launch in 2011 at

John Lewis

Monday, September 27, 2010

LPR Technology

A person posted a question on Linkedin - asking for opinions on dual assigning a repo assignment to two companies at once. I then raised the question about LPR (License Plate Recognition) and the fact it seems to go unnoticed that this also creates double assignments.

The LPR process puts a camera in a vehicle and hundreds or thousands of license plates are scanned each night. Lenders upload lists of the license plates on cars they are looking for and when an LPR camera spots a unit the Lender is looking for, each of the 3 companies with the camera's has a different process they follow, and most, if not all, allow a Lender to have one of their accounts double assigned to more than one repo company at a time- a deadly practice. The problem could be eliminated if the LPR companies required the Lenders to become accountable for each assignment as most of these accounts are already assigned to a repo company when the Lender gives the list of wanted cars to the LPR company, who then distributes the cameras and coordinates the assignment process when a camera spots a unit.

The owner of a LPR company posted a comment to explain LPR, however the same question remains. Here is his comment and my comment that followed - I think this is a challenge the repo industry faces with the advent of LPR

Here is a comment from Scott Jackson, owner of MV Track:

Scott Jackson • "The MVTRAC system is a real-time alert, so the moment an ALPR unit scans a plate the alert goes off and the agent can print an assignment. We do not view it as a "double assignment" In the early stages of research and development, lender white-board sessions brought this scenario up:

Agent #1 is assigned the account by the lender by fax or database and have been running the addresses for 14 days. Day 15, the VIN hits the MVTRAC systems Nationwide and Agent#2 drives by the vehicle which happens to be located at an originally assigned address assigned to Agent #1 and at that very moment, Agent #1 happens to be at the address as well. In this scenario, Agent #1 has the assignment and Agent #2 can print the assignment after his ALPR system hits on it generates a repossession order.

In this scenario, most would say it's a "Double-Assignment" Technology has definitely changed the playing field for us all. Statistically, the above scenario, the odds of it happening are very-very high (but of course it is still possible) You see, Agent #2 is unaware of the assignment, up until the very moment his system hits on the plate. Agent #1 would most certainly be in the process of recovering the vehicle and Agent #2 would see this, or Agent #1 would be down the street setting up for the recovery if it took some planning.

In the end, this is the scenario for a "double-assignment" with MVTRAC ALPR systems, which in the end comes down to the professionalism of the agents because the danger here is Recovery Agents "fighting" or "arguing", some altercation over the assignment and the recovery. MVTRAC's MVRecovery division maintains an approved vendor list of over 530 Recovery Agencies and as many readers here know, the packet is over 30 pages and very extensive. We're also working developing a Recovery Industry University for the individual agents to attend and become certified, that will cover this scenario and a quite a few more. Collectively, with greater awareness of the challenges of new technology, coupled with professionalism and continuing education, the Recovery Industry will evolve and develop further.........and again...... "

Here is my response...

Once LPR gets dialed and risks are reduced, AND when communication between ALL affected parties improves, it will have an even larger positive impact.

Two agents fighting over a repo is the exact situation our agents are running in to when our skip company, Find John Doe, assigns a locate. It has happened more than a few times , especially in L.A. Multiply that by the potential for a 3rd or 4th LPR Company to get an assignment from a lender …

In one actual case, we gave our agent a locate in a remote area, the unit didn’t show and our agent didn’t want to make a second trip, so they kicked it in. The guy didn’t even know his car was repo’d, so it was awkward, but could have been dangerous if the debtor was confrontational.

The biggest problems will happen when the debtor comes out and stops either the original agent or the LPR agent with a threat and the agent leaves without the unit. Later that night, the second agent spots the unit, and having no idea of the prior confrontation, they begin the repo and this time the debtor may be waiting with their shotgun. This is EXACTLY how my guys were killed several years ago.

Accidents will happen and when they do and there is an injury of some form, lawyers get involved. A review of large suits has proven that when something happens and there is accountability, i.e "In the early stages of research and development, lender white-board sessions brought this scenario up", the Punitive $ add up fast.

There is no doubt LPR is a powerful tool, however, until something really bad happens and a Lender is held accountable, my guess is not much will change. The scary thing is it still may not change, as history dictates with the explosion of the Forwarding model. The issues caused by using inexpensive, sub-professional repo agents to save a buck. i.e. several deaths and injuries caused by Forwarders using the cheapest guy they can find and Lenders turning their head because the contract passes on liability to the Forwarder is well documented, and it still goes on.

The decision to change the current LPR process of double assigning will be based on who is ultimately responsible when something really bad happens? Is it the lender for assigning a plate when they know that almost always it’s a double assignment, or the LPR company for not insuring their agents are protected from double assignments? It certainly can't be the agent in the field’s fault, unless there is something I am missing?

BTW, I like the alert going off concept and the agent being able to immediately take the car idea, but it would be nice if you could also assure that agent that already has his life on the line just by doing the job he does, that he doesn't have a second repo man pulling up when he's in the middle of hooking up, or worse, have a second repo man working "his deal" that already has had a confrontation with the debtor he's about to hook, or kick in.

This is where clients should get involved as I believe that they have the ultimate accountability on this, and if they're passing that liability to the LPR company through some language in a contract, I think LPR companies need to really work to get on top of this before it comes back on an agent in the field. LPR companies have the data, you hold the cards, so it shouldn’t be that hard to tell a Lender they cant risk people's lives and double assign deals. Before LPR, some Lenders double assigned deals, they got in trouble ,and then they stopped. Technology and the volume it will drive will only increase the odds of a problem, so why is it OK now?

If the contract says the LPR company agrees to defend and hold the Lender harmless, that's not a good thing as the LPR company didn't double assign it, the lender did. I’m curious to know how that part works Scott, who is responsible?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The information age

Some people call it Public Records, some call it Data, and in our business we call it a lead.

I call it information.

In the current state of the skip tracing industry, we have a tremendous amount of information at our fingertips.

Since we live in the Information Age, we should always be striving to find better ways to process and use available information to make better decisions.

In the old days, I would get so excited when someone went to Battle Mountain, or any remote location, and they brought me back a local phone book. Suddenly, I had the information I needed, at my fingertips, to crack a tough case. I had a book of leads.

The amount of data available on people these days is amazing. It's the closest thing we've seen to Big Brother.

What's important is to find a way to take that information, streamline the identification of the most relevant data that's available through Public Records, which includes everything about a person that's available on the Internet, and put that into a format that can improve the process of skip tracing.

That's skip tracing in 2010.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How was your weekend?

When building a relationship with another person at a company you do business with, the temptation or opportunity to move that relationship beyond a business relationship can occur. It can be initiated mutually, or by one side when there is something that side perceives they will gain. Schmoozing is what best describes this form of communication. The definition of Schmooze is:

Main Entry: Schmooze
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): schmoozed or shmoozed; schmooz·ing or shmooz·ing
Etymology: Yiddish shmuesn, from schmues talk, from Hebrew shĕmu'ōth news, rumor
Date: 1884

intransitive verb : to converse informally : chat; also : to chat in a friendly and persuasive manner especially so as to gain favor, business, or connections transitive verb : to engage in schmoozing with

— schmooz·er \ˈshmü-zər\ noun

A solid business relationship is built when each side has an equal amount to gain from the relationship, and when one side gains an advantage, problems start, and the relationship will usually falter.

At a high level, executives get to know each other outside work all the time. Many companies frown on this, and while I agree with the initial perception of a conflict of interest, I can attest that some of the strongest and most valuable business relationships I've formed have been when both companies provided equal value to each other, and when the executive level staff spent enough time together so they built a trust of each other, knowing when a problem occurred, they each could fall back on the relationship they'd built to move past the issues, getting the business relationship back on track. If a catastrophic problem happened, the business relationship may be fractured, but the business bond these individuals had formed would usually transcend the companies they owned or worked for, and their paths would again cross as a result of the individual bond they'd built. The other component to this relationship is talent, allowing a bond to form by two peers with common interests and solid values, and their ability to solve issues and always strive to move their organizations forward without compromising their integrity.

At a staffing level, the playing field is similar, yet the need to communicate more frequently and the inexperience of the staff members in situations like these can make the situations that may arise a bit trickier.

How much small talk is too much? What do you do when the relationship moves from purely business and an innocent comment like "how was your weekend?" to "will you be my Facebook friend?", or "we should get together sometime."

As an employer, those last two scenarios can be seen as harmless by some, but in many cases they can be the beginning of the end for what the Executives thought was a solid business relationship. If my employee becomes friends with your employee will that influence their business decisions? If they're sleeping together and then one pulls the plug, will that affect my business relationship I've built on a high level with a client who sees value in our product or services? Is one of those people capable of having a hidden agenda that could really cause problems?

In thirty plus years of working in offices, I've learned some lessons the hard way, and my philosophy nowadays is to keep my business and personal life as separate as possible. I encourage our employees to do the same. I love hearing my people did a great job, and I know when you do enough great jobs you'll start getting closer to a client, or vice versa, as it will influence the amount of work that flows between two companies. I'd always prefer to be judged on what I do, and not on what I said I could do, or in a way which could be perceived as a conflict of interest in a manner which could affect my relationship with my employer, my client, or my company.

So, what do you do when a relationship that was friendly starts getting too friendly?

Find easy ways to identify these situations and without offending the other person, drop hints that hopefully they will understand over time:

1. Find things to say when the conversation goes in the wrong direction, i.e.

A) "I've got a call coming in on the other line, can I get back to you?"

B) "Can you hang on a minute?"

Place hand over mouthpiece on phone and say
"Just a minute"

Remove hand and say:
"Sorry about that, can I give you a call back later, I've gotta run.."

C) If my wife heard you talking like that I'm not sure who would be in more trouble, you or me.

OK, just kidding about the last one, but you get the idea. Find ways to catch the tone going the wrong direction early and find a way to move on. Don't avoid the person, keep consistent with your desire to be friendly and occasionally chat on an impersonal level, but at all costs, avoid getting into your personal lives other than you have a great family or you are happily single or whatever. I tell my people to stay away from the details or the next thing you know you will be sitting in someone's office listening to something you don't want other people to hear as the conflict of interest or the content of your conversation will clearly indicate this got way beyond the point of "how was your weekend?". That can cause more problems than you want to deal with at your job, and how would you feel if the other person got fired and you initiated the conversation, or you played along.

Business is business, and your ability to develop a reputation for delivering a product or service will take you places in your career. If you can do that while having a little personality, being a nice person with good morals, you will succeed in business. By not crossing the business to personal line, you will be ahead of the game. When it happens and you didn't initiate it, be prepared to control the situation with the fine art of bringing it back to business when it crosses the line. This is a trait you want in your tool box and it will help carry you a long way in your road to personal success in your business career.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What makes a good repossession agent / agency?

I've been starting to focus my attention on the repossession business again, and in doing so I find myself examining the qualities that make up a great repo agent, and a good repossession agency.

First off, the definition of "great" contains several descriptions that should apply:

Wonderful; first-rate; very good

Unusual or considerable in degree, power, intensity, etc.

Notable; remarkable; exceptionally outstanding

Enthusiastic about some specified activity

Skillful; expert

Consider the degree of difficulty it takes to be a repossessor, and magnify that by the challenges an entrepreneur faces in running a repossession agency and you have a profession that is as difficult as any there is. Combine that with the restrictions placed on the repossessors and repossession agencies, from strict laws, compliance issues and rising expenses to cost cutting measures that have affected the industry and forced many great companies either out of business, or to not be as great as they could be if they weren't facing so many challenges, and you have an industry that is at a crossroads that paints a picture that continues to offer additional challenges as the job keeps getting more difficult to perform.

For this reason, we believe there needs to be change in the industry and the first step in this process is to clearly define the solid, professional repossession companies from those who perform at lower levels. Once this process is started, those performing at a lower level will need to improve, or they will face additional challenges as those identified as "great" will dominate the industry. This identification process also needs to include the identification and elimination of Repossession Agencies, Repossession Agents, Forwarding and Skip companies who place the public, our clients, the people who employ them and themselves at risk.

We are moving forward in this process and in the coming months, I look forward to sharing some additional insight with you on how this process can start to help improve our industry.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Social Networking and the Workplace

Social Networking and the Workplace - a Blog posted for our employees

As technology evolves, we’re seeing social situations develop in the workplace that can present a challenge to workers and companies.

I’ve always believed that solid inter-personal relationships between co-workers, based on mutual respect and a shared belief that they each can have a positive impact on the company, can add tremendous value to a person’s job. I’ve also witnessed that when this occurs within an entire company, all of the employees performance will almost always increase, which allows the company and its employees to reap great benefits and rewards over time.

In a 2004 article on this subject, USA Today wrote:

“The Gallup Organization surveyed 5 million workers over 35 years searching for what magic makes some workers engaged, and others not.

Engaged workers are more likely to receive regular praise and are given an opportunity to do what they do best every day. But what Gallup has uncovered about best friends at work stands out as novel:

• Among the 3 in 10 workers who strongly agree that they have a best friend at work, 56% are engaged, 33% are not engaged and 11% are actively disengaged to the point of poisoning the atmosphere with their negativity.

• Among the 7 in 10 who do not strongly agree that they have a best friend at work, 8% are engaged, 63% are not engaged and 29% are actively disengaged.

In other words, those who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged. Those who don't have a best friend have slim 1-in-12 odds of being among the engaged. Worse, the best-friendless stand a one in three chance of being actively disengaged. That means they may threaten sabotage or otherwise become a serious drag on the company's success. Those who don't have a best friend can consider themselves far more likely candidates for dismissal.

In a separate study of 161 employees of an unnamed large telecommunications company near San Francisco, Columbia University organizational behavior associate professor Francis Flynn found that workers who do a lot of favors for each other are more productive than those who focus strictly on their own jobs. Favors must be a two-way street, however. Those who do a lot of favors for each other are more productive, but not those who do favors but get little in return. Small favors that are reciprocated build trust that leads to an exchange of bigger favors, Flynn says

We’ve begun to see a transformation happen at our company in the past year, and especially in the two months. Our productivity has increased significantly, and while a large part of this has to do with the proprietary software we’ve built and have been using, and in part to our merging two locations back into one, a large part also has to do with our staff, and their level of engagement in their jobs. This causes me to reflect on how we got to where we are, and how can we continue to improve as we move forward into the next chapter of our organization.

While I doubt that we have a lot of employees who can say that their absolute “Best Friend” works with them at our company, I know we have a few examples of that, and I am one of them as my wife and I are partners in this business, and we’re “Best Friends”. For the purposes of the Gallup Survey, I believe they viewed the term “Best Friends” as a person who has many “Best Friends” in their lives, with some being at work.

We also are a relatively new company, and as time goes by, and as we build a staff of like-minded people with similar goals and values, I hope we can see a point where 3 of 10, or even more people in our employment are working with their “Best Friends”. With that said, when I think about the term “Best Friend”, I would hope that anyone considering another person to be their “Best Friend” would only do so after knowing that person for years, and not weeks or months.

As I started to think about how we’ve built prior companies that have achieved a significant level of success, I soon realized that the playing field has changed a great deal since then. Specifically, technology has affected the relationships our employees form with each other, and this is especially true as it relates to Social Networking.

Wikipedia, or the online version of Webster’s Dictionary (for any old timers reading this), describes a Social Network as:

A social network is a social structure made of individuals (or organizations) called "nodes," which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.

Social network analysis views social relationships in terms of network theory consisting of nodes and ties. Nodes are the individual actors within the networks, and ties are the relationships between the actors.

While social networks have existed since the beginning of man, it is something that has grown by significant proportions with the evolution of technology. It started with computers, then email, then cell phones, then My Space, and in the past few years, it has exploded due in large part to the ability to easily communicate with more people through texting, Twitter, and the most popular social networking site to date; Facebook.

The description above talks about an interdependent connection forming the foundation of a person’s social network, and the first example it lists is “friendship”.

I went back to Websters to get the definition of a “friend” as Wikipedia is an on line dictionary/encyclopedia that anyone can edit and change. Websters creates definitions that have stood the test of time, rarely changing, and when they make a change, they have studied and made sound decisions on why the definition should change.

Wikipedia, on the other hand, can be changed by because he wants to.

To really drill down on the different type’s of relationships people form at work, and in their lives, I thought the synonyms of the word acquaintance from Webster’s formed some appropriate categories.

I think it’s interesting to look at these categories and see where the people in your business social network, and in your personal social network fit in:

1. Acquaintance, associate, companion, a person with whom one is in contact. An acquaintance is someone recognized by sight or someone known, though not intimately
2. A Casual Acquaintance. Or an associate is a person who is often in one's company,
3. A Business Associate. A person who shares one's activities, fate, or condition usually because of some work, enterprise, or pursuit in common
4. A friend is a person with whom one is on intimate terms and for whom one feels a warm affection
5. A Trusted Friend. Familiarity, awareness.

Many people spend as many or more hours with co-workers than they do with their families, and many people spend more hours in a week with co-workers than they spend in a month or more with their trusted friends. Due to this, we have seen friendships in business turning into friendships in people’s personal lives. In recent years, I’ve witnessed this happening more frequently, and with more negative effects than I have seen in prior years, or pre-technology, if you will.

I am fifty years old and I have been in business for over thirty years. I’ve been an employee, a co-worker, a manager, and for the past twenty years I’ve been a business owner who has employed as many as 125 people at once through several different businesses my wife and I have started.

I’ve participated in, managed, or encountered many types of relationships with co-workers I’ve worked alongside, or people I’ve managed, or employed. In all this time, and through all these relationships, I’d like to think I’ve learned a little bit about the dynamics of employee/employee, employee/employer and even client/vendor relationships.

One of the first rules I was taught, but it took me a few mistakes to understand why it’s a common saying you have all heard is……… “you don’t mix business with pleasure”. defines this as:

Mixing business with pleasure:

To combine work with social activities or enjoyment

(usually negative)

I didn’t put in the “usually negative” part, BTW, but I totally agree.

Believe me when I say I’ve been there. For example:

I’ve partied with co-workers and then realized that wasn’t the best idea, especially when something happened when we partied, and now I knew more about that person than I cared to know, or needed to know, and it changed our relationship.

I’ve made decisions regarding employees that were affected by my personal relationship with them, and they’ve almost always ended up being bad decisions.

A person I thought was a good friend turned out to not be such a good friend.

The negativity of a person I got too close to started to cause me to become negative myself, and I like to think of myself as a positive person.

“Don’t they ever have anything good to say” or “Why do they work here if they always complain”?

I’ve gone out with co-workers and later figured out they weren’t someone I’d normally associate with, but when they asked me to go out I felt it would have been rude to say “no”, but then the relationship became uncomfortable at work when up until then my professional relationship at work with that person had been great. I should have just said I had a prior commitment.

Does any of this sound familiar? We’ve all been there.

Technology has given the average worker new challenges through their constant availability with their cell phones, texting, and through social networking sites like Facebook.

In doing some research, I found an appropriate comment about Facebook on a person’s blog:

“For every long-lost chum who reaches out to me on Facebook, there's a guy who beat me up on a weekly basis through the whole seventh grade but now wants to be my buddy; or the crazy person who was fun in college but is now kind of sad; or the creepy ex-co-worker who I'd cross the street to avoid but who now wants to know, "Am I your friend?" yes or no, this instant, please.”

I think the co-worker example above may seem exaggerated to many people who have co-worker friends on their Facebook page, but from my experience, it’s just another step in the direction of mixing business relationships with personal relationships at a stage that is way too early, and where the problems that can result are not worth the risk.

On the client/vendor front, I know companies have witnessed a conflict of interest when an employee of theirs and an employee at the client/vendor are friends with each other, and it can or does affect their business relationship. We see some clients who can not even accept a box of chocolate from a trusted vendor at Christmas, which may be a bit over the top, and we see some who recognize that when the sales rep or owner of the vendor takes the vendor manager or decision maker to the Super Bowl, that may influence their decision to give that company work, and rightfully so, they put the kibosh on those types of activities.

As technology evolves, I now see a new twist happening through social networking sites. For the record, we are drafting our own social networking policy and this will also be a “no-no” for us. I want people to use our services because we do a good job, not because they like how we look in our profile photo, or because my people socialize with our client’s employees outside work, and are friends who converse regularly on Facebook or Twitter.

I have a Facebook page, and at first I felt awkward when a person at work “friended me”, asking if I’d join their social network on Facebook. I kind of looked at it like when a seventh grade friend of my son sent me a friend request on my personal Facebook page. I like the kid, and didn’t want to seem rude, but I think it best if my relationship with this kid remains as my son’s father, and not as a friend of mine on my personal Facebook page.

I saw the person at work the following day and told them I appreciated their asking me to be their friend on Facebook, but I preferred to keep my Facebook page separate from work. They said ok, and I think they understood.

When I go back and read the “friend” definition on Webster’s, I realize I have personal friends, business friends, family friends, etc. Sometimes my family or personal friends cross over into people I place in my social network, and I have them on my Facebook page, but when it comes to work, I prefer to keep my work relationships at work, and to me, those are almost always relationships with “business associates”, otherwise the mix of business and personal becomes to consuming. It’s already become more difficult to separate work and personal with the availability of email on cell phones, etc.

In my career, I’ve learned there is a time and a place for business, and the same goes for pleasure, which I think is not the right word as I enjoy working, so I usually find it a pleasurable experience.

I think a better analogy would be business and personal. While I think there is a time and a place for mixing the two, based on my personal experience, I’d try and limit my outside of work relationships with my co-workers to company events that are not work related, i.e. company picnics, holiday parties, etc. As the owner, or as a manager or a person of responsibility over others within a company, it is a different landscape than with a co-worker-to-co-worker relationship. While we realize people will become friendly and over time will develop friendships at work, and those may carry over to outside work, the best advise I can give is to take your time, and really get to know the person and make sure that your relationship with them outside the job is based on their being a “trusted friend”, and to me anyway, it takes a significant amount of time, usually a year or more, before I place a friend in that category.

For this reason, I personally do not consider it a good idea to mix your friendships at work with your friendships in your personal life until a significant amount of time has gone by. I can give you a hundred examples where things went wrong, and in almost every case, it was when a person rushed into a relationship with another person without really knowing them. They placed the person into a position of trust, and many times they got burned. I’d have to think really hard to come up with examples where a business relationship turned into a personal friendship within a few months of the people knowing each other and it benefitted both parties, and the company.

On the other hand, I can think of a small amount of examples where a relationship built over a significant amount of time, mutual respect, and trust, evolved between two co-workers and it carried over from work into their personal lives and both employees, and the company, benefitted. It’s rare, but when it happens, it really adds value to his or her jobs, and to the company.

This is a difficult rule to keep. I enjoy working with everyone here, and I’m sure I’d enjoy skiing with many of you, or going out for dinner, playing a sport or just going to lunch and chatting, however, if I do that, then in my situation, others may feel as if I am playing favorites. Also, what if we become close friends and I have to discipline the person, or promote someone over the person I have become close with and that move upsets them?

From a co-worker standpoint, you have the same issues. “Why does she go to lunch with him every day?” What if you see someone you become friends with doing something you know is not right, will that influence your decision to say something that would be in the best interests of the company? If the time comes for a promotion, will your boss feel as if you have developed too many personal relationships with people you’d be supervising and then you get passed over? Will someone spread rumors about you because they are jealous of your relationships with co-workers, or they misunderstand your intentions, even if they are completely trustworthy and honest? Those are just a few examples of the risks involved with developing relationships that move from business associate to friendship at work. When they happen in a matter of weeks or even months, the risk of a problem is elevated. When they happen as people really get to know each other, and as each person cements their position within the company, the risk becomes reduced.

Another reason I feel the mixing of your personal and work life should be approached with extreme caution is the simple fact that you need to charge your batteries when you’re away from work, and the best way to do that is to leave work at the office and come in fresh the next day. If you spent an hour on the phone at home after work speaking with a current or an ex-coworker and work was discussed, yours or theirs, that’s not usually a healthy phone call for your psyche. Are you talking about good things? “Oh, I love my job” and if it’s an ex-employee you’re speaking with, what do they think of that if they are no longer there? Are you complaining to each other about something that bothers you, and how does that negativity affect you? Or what if you’re happy and your new personal friend from the office isn’t, will they call and tell you how they love their job or will they call to bitch, or worse yet, post it on Facebook?

Here are some interesting questions to ask yourself when making friends at work :

• If your friend left the company, would you still be in touch with her in a year?
• If you had a personal emergency, would you consider asking your friend for help?
• Do you hang out with your friend outside the office? (Weekday lunch, happy hour, and business trips don’t count.)
• Have you met your friend’s significant other? What about her friends outside the office?
• If your friend received the promotion you were banking on, would you be genuinely happy for her?
• If you ran into your friend in the grocery store, would you be able to talk to her for 10 minutes without mentioning work?
• Have you seen where your friend lives?
• Do you and your friend have anything in common besides your age and your job?

Sources for this blog are: