04/26/2013 02:11 pm ET

Competing for a Job Against a Friend: Ask Noah

Q: I'm an account executive at an advertising agency. Our sector's VP is leaving and I'm sure to be a top contender for the position. My only real competitor is one of my best friends, a guy I've worked side by side with for over six years. He was a groomsman at my wedding and our wives are now close friends. It's clear that we're both concerned over the impact management's decision will have on our friendship. How would you recommend handling this?

A: Male friendships are competitive. As professional peers, you've been successful teammates. Things are about to change and you need to be prepared. One of you will be responsible for the other's professional performance.

This inevitable shift will most probably give rise to feelings of resentment, anger and frustration. If you pretend the shift won't affect your relationship, you'll only delay these feelings, creating increased animosity.

I would advise you to have a frank conversation with your buddy prior to management's decision. It'll be useful in fostering a smooth transition. Begin by discussing with him certain realistic workplace scenarios and how you'd each handle them.

The fact that your wives are friends is great. Their commitment to keeping regular evening plans and celebrations ongoing and consistent is important. This will nourish a healthy distinction between your professional and social worlds, thereby keeping your friendship strong.

I would encourage you to work together on this. Look at the hiring process objectively. Only one person is going to get the job. In the end, if your friend is selected over you, be thankful it is someone you love and respect.

Once the decision is public, you'll both continue to work productively together. Provided you make the proper adjustments, this will not end the friendship. Let me know when the decision is made.

As always, please send questions and comments to ASK NOAH at

Have a profitable and peaceful week,

This column was originally posted on April 19, 2013.