Employees around a table - don't mix business with pleasure

“Don’t mix business with pleasure.” You’ve probably heard this advice before, but what does it really mean? This simple saying warns us to keep our work and fun separate.

In this article, we will find out why this is such a good idea. We’ll examine where this saying came from, its meaning, and the good and bad sides of mixing work with fun.

So, let’s dive in and see why keeping work and play apart can help us both at our jobs and personal lives.

Quick Answer
It’s best to follow the saying “don’t mix business with pleasure” because it helps maintain professional focus and avoids conflicts of interest.Keeping work and personal life separate ensures transparent decision-making and preserves work relationships. This approach also protects personal time, preventing stress and burnout. Adhering to this principle fosters a balanced and healthy professional environment, benefiting both career and personal well-being.

What is the History of The Saying, ‘Don’t Mix Business with Pleasure’?

The phrase “don’t mix business with pleasure” has been around for a long time, but no one knows precisely when it started. In the old days, people’s work and personal lives were often mixed. As businesses grew, this mixing of business with pleasure created problems. The saying became popular as a way to remind people to keep their work and fun separate.

However, according to BookBrowse, the saying “don’t mix business with pleasure” is believed to be traced back to at least the early 1900s. Its use was well established by 1934, as evidenced by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s play on the phrase in his novel “Tender is the Night.” This indicates that keeping work separate from private life and not doing business with friends was already a recognized idea in the early 20th century.

When modern businesses began, it became clear that mixing pleasure with business could complicate work life. This was especially true when businesses grew and weren’t just about family or local people anymore. The saying “Don’t mix business with pleasure” became a valuable tip for people to remember to stay professional.

During the Industrial Revolution, this idea became even more important. With more people working for big companies, keeping work and personal life apart became more regular. The saying then started to mean not just a personal choice but a rule for how to behave at work. It was about being fair in business and looking professional, which was becoming really important in the new world of big industries.

So, this saying isn’t just an old phrase; it’s about how work and fun have changed over time.

What Does Do Not Mix Business with Pleasure Mean?

The saying “Do not mix business with pleasure” is a piece of advice that guides people to keep their professional lives and personal leisure activities distinct from each other. This separation is advised for several key reasons:

1. Being Professional

If you start mixing business with pleasure, it can make work less serious. It’s better to keep them apart so you can stay focused and professional at work.

2. No Conflicts

Mixing pleasure with business might lead to choices based on personal likes or dislikes. Keeping them apart helps you make fair and transparent decisions at work.

3. Good Balance

Not mixing business with pleasure means you can have a clear line between your job and your free time. This is good for your mind and keeps stress away.

4. Safe Relationships

If your work and personal life mix too much, it can create problems in both. For example, a work argument could hurt a friendship.

5. Avoiding Wrong Ideas

Keeping business and pleasure separate stops people from thinking you are not fair or that you have favorites at work.

So, “don’t mix business with pleasure” is a simple way to say that it’s better to keep your work and personal life separate for many reasons.

Pros of Mixing Business with Pleasure

While the common advice is “don’t mix business with pleasure,” there are benefits when you mix the two in the right circumstances. Here are a few pros of mixing business with pleasure:

1. Enhanced Networking

Combining pleasure with business in social settings opens doors to informal networking. It also allows for a deeper understanding of colleagues and clients beyond the professional facade. It provides a platform to connect on a personal level, which can often lead to more trusting and lasting business relationships.

In a more relaxed setting, people tend to be more open and candid, which can be advantageous for understanding their needs and preferences better.

2. Increased Morale and Team Cohesion

Leisure activities with colleagues can break down barriers and hierarchies present in the workplace. It allows team members to see each other in a different light, fostering mutual respect and understanding. This bonding experience often leads to better communication and collaboration back in the office, as team members feel more connected and committed to each other’s success.

3. Creative Inspiration

Engaging in leisure activities can provide a mental break from the rigors of business, allowing the mind to relax and think more openly. This mental shift can lead to innovative ideas and solutions that might not emerge in a traditional work setting.

Creative inspiration often strikes when we’re not actively trying to solve a problem, and leisure activities provide that perfect distraction for creativity to flourish.

4. Work-Life Integration

For individuals in creative or entrepreneurial roles, integrating their passions into their work can be deeply fulfilling. This integration allows for a more authentic expression of themselves in their work, leading to greater job satisfaction and personal happiness. It blurs the line between work and play, making work a more enjoyable and rewarding experience.

5. Stress Reduction

Combining enjoyable activities with business not only makes work more pleasurable but also helps in managing stress. Business discussions in a more casual and relaxed setting reduce the intensity of negotiations and make problem-solving more collaborative.

Moreover, participating in enjoyable activities can relieve stress, helping maintain a positive mood and mindset.

However, it’s crucial to approach mixing business with pleasure with caution. Balancing professional integrity and personal enjoyment requires clear boundaries and an understanding of potential risks and benefits.

Cons of Mixing Business with Pleasure

Mixing business with pleasure can have some downsides, too. Here are some cons:

1. Professional Boundaries Blur

Mixing pleasure with business often makes it hard to draw a line between work and personal life. This can lead to situations where work discussions intrude on personal time or personal matters distract from work tasks. It also creates a casual attitude in professional settings, undermining the seriousness required for specific business situations.

2. Risk of Favoritism

Becoming friends with colleagues or clients can lead to perceived or actual favoritism. This could impact decision-making, where personal relationships overshadow professional merit. It can also create an uncomfortable work environment for others who may feel excluded or unfairly treated, decreasing team morale and productivity.

3. Work-Life Balance Issues

When you’re always mixing business with pleasure, it can be hard to switch off from work. This constant engagement with work tasks, even leisurely, can prevent proper relaxation and recovery. It could also impact personal relationships and hobbies, as work takes precedence over other important aspects of life.

4. Personal Problems Affecting Work

If a personal relationship with a coworker is sour, it can create discomfort and tension in the workplace. This tension can affect the individuals and their coworkers, disrupting team dynamics and productivity. It can result in a hostile work environment, increased stress, and even impact mental health.

5. Professional Image

Over-mixing pleasure with business can lead to a less professional image. Colleagues, clients, and superiors might question your commitment and seriousness towards your work. This perception can hinder career progression, limit opportunities for professional growth, and potentially damage your reputation in the industry.

It’s clear that while there are benefits to mixing business with pleasure, it’s crucial to approach this balance mindfully. Understanding when and how to blend these aspects can help maintain professional integrity and personal well-being.

Why You Shouldn’t Mix Business with Pleasure (5 Reasons)

Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure:

1. Conflicts of Interest

When mixing pleasure with business, personal feelings can cloud your judgment. This might lead to decisions that aren’t the best for the company. It’s hard to stay unbiased when personal relationships are involved.

2. Professionalism Could Suffer

If you’re seen mixing business with pleasure too often, colleagues and clients might think you need to be more serious about your work. This could hurt your professional reputation and future opportunities.

3. Complicated Work Environment

Mixing personal relationships with business can create awkward situations at work, especially if the personal relationship changes or ends. It can lead to tension and discomfort among other team members, too.

4. Difficult to Maintain Work-Life Balance

If you’re constantly mixing business with pleasure, it’s hard to take a break from work. This can lead to burnout, as you don’t get the downtime you need to relax and recharge.

5. Risk to Personal Time and Relationships

Mixing business with pleasure can also mean that work takes over your personal life. This can strain your relationships with friends and family who are not part of your work life.

In summary, while mixing business with pleasure can be beneficial, it’s generally wise to keep them separate. This helps maintain professional integrity, work-life balance, and personal relationships.

Ways to Not Mix Business with Pleasure

To avoid mixing business with pleasure, there are several practical steps you can take:

1. Set Clear Boundaries

Make distinct lines between your work life and your personal life. This could mean not discussing work during personal time or vice versa. It helps in preventing the overlap of professional and personal matters.

2. Professional Communication

Keep your communication professional, especially in work settings. This means focusing on work-related topics during business hours and saving personal conversations for your own time.

3. Separate Social Media

Have different social media accounts for personal and professional use. This helps to keep your personal life private from your work colleagues and clients.

4. Avoid Personal Relationships at Work

It’s usually a good idea to avoid starting romantic or close personal friendships with colleagues, especially if a direct work relationship or hierarchy is involved.

5. Decline Personal Invites from Colleagues

Politely decline invitations from colleagues for non-work-related activities if they blur the lines between your professional and personal life.

6. Seek Professional Networking Opportunities

Instead of mixing business with pleasure, look for professional networking events. This allows for connections and networking in a purely professional setting.

7. Consult with HR or a Mentor

Consult your HR department or a mentor for guidance if you need clarification on a situation that might mix business with pleasure.

By following these tips, you can maintain a healthy balance between your professional and personal life, ensuring that one doesn’t negatively impact the other.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Why shouldn’t you mix business with pleasure?

Mixing business with pleasure in the workplace can lead to several risks. These include the potential for allegations of sexual harassment, the creation of an impression of preferential treatment, a decrease in work efficiency, and the possibility of retaliatory actions.

The highest level of risk is often associated with romantic or personal relationships between individuals in positions of differing authority, such as between a manager and an employee.

2. How do you separate business from pleasure?

It’s essential to ensure that everyone understands the distinction between professional and personal discussions. When the conversation is work-related, this should be explicitly stated.

Consider having a structured agenda, and always carry a notepad or your smartphone for note-taking. Additionally, consciously adjust your speaking style, shifting from a casual tone to a more formal, business-oriented manner.

3. Can you mix business with friendship?

Combining personal finances with business matters often leads to poor decision-making, but blending personal relationships and business endeavors can be a potent formula. By integrating a modest concept with grand aspirations, copious amounts of diligence, commitment, and mutual excitement, it can result in substantial achievements.


While mixing business with pleasure might seem appealing, it’s generally wise to tread carefully. Balancing professional integrity with personal happiness is key. Remember, mixing pleasure with business can lead to conflicts of interest, affect professionalism, and complicate both your work and personal life.

On the other hand, keeping them separate helps maintain clarity, fairness, and a healthy work-life balance. Ultimately, the saying “don’t mix business with pleasure” is a helpful guideline for navigating the complex interplay between our professional and personal worlds, ensuring that we excel in both without compromising one for the other.

About Author

  • Princewill M

    Princewill Monday is a versatile freelance writer and tech enthusiast who has a bachelor's degree in Engineering. He enjoys exploring the world through writing, taking everyone along for the ride. He's also passionate about helping businesses grow their audience through SEO-friendly content. When he's not writing, he will watch Sci-fi movies, watch his beloved football team (Liverpool FC) play, or read novels.