We spend at least 8 hours daily from Monday to Friday in a space working towards a purpose in exchange for monetary compensation: work.
As we engage and examine our fellow colleagues, our work/life barriers can sometimes weaken and we develop quasi relationships with unknown characters. Becoming friends with a colleague could be a stepping stone to a solid, longtime relationship or the fusion of two combustible entities. Personally, my experiences have been a mixed bag of joy, disappointment and gratitude. Though unconventional, work relationships have provided clarity, self growth and life lessons.
From the beginning, I had my doubts about your grand gestures and side hustles. Your long-winded stories and big heart captivated my senses. I ignored my logic and betrayed all of my rules. Our friendship was swift and exciting. Hours spent venting about our boyfriends in between servicing our clients strengthen our bond. Your approach was a bit brash but your “honesty” was welcomed in this petty environment. There were plenty of puffy eyed days as I tried to clock in and put my cheery face on but I knew I could always migrate to your corner for a hug and a snack. We didn’t see each other much outside of the work confines but a planned trip to the nail salon or last-minute dinner date always kept the spark.
My first experience of making wine was with you and our conversations over cheesecake were so thick. As we celebrated birthdays and personal achievements, I allowed you to permeate the interworkings of my life. My siblings thought you were funny and my friends thought you were loud. Your need to impress your audience was a bit taxing and your lack of esteem was noticeable. As I rose through the ranks of our organization, your encouragement seemed to dip and your colors began to shine. The constant complaints of the “mean girls” and the lack of assessment initiated the demise of us. You could try all you want but we were not the same. Your tactics for advancement and acceptance involved small gifts for our bosses while I allowed my work and ethics to speak for itself. As our lives continued to mingle, various whispers warning me of your true nature never ceased. The friendship had to end after you attacked my character and could not allow work to stand apart.
When a work friend becomes your superior or attains a position you wanted for yourself, it can be a hard adjustment to make. The assumption of special privileges and the testing of boundaries often shape the new dynamic. You provided the blessing but secretly wished for my demise. Your theatrics could bring me to tears and split my feelings. How can you call yourself a friend and embarrass me with your rants? How could you ask for understanding in the break room and then turn around and report me? How could someone I would never associate with in the real world affect me so profoundly? Was your goal to use me for my knowledge and contacts? Were you the main driver of the rumors and failed attempts of sabotage?
Work friends will provide a shoulder for comfort, order lunch with you, talk behind your back and ask you taboo questions. As an adult in the workforce, you must always be prepared for these types of seasonal arrangements. My tip is to not share anything that you wouldn’t want repeated. Observe them in advance before you engage personally to determine if they would add value to your life. Above all else, proceed with caution. ✌
Do you have friends at work? Please share your experiences below.