Adult Cheerful Collaboration 1391373

A friend of a friend

This blog may be a little sensitive and a lot opinion. Just sayin...

Work friends, friends from work, workmates, colleagues, business partners and so on and so on. There are varying degrees of relationships at work, most of which do not go beyond the pleasantries and politeness of casual acquaintances. 

Yet, if I had a nickel for every time I hear someone say "you know my friend Bob at the office"... Some would call me a stickler for appropriateness or protocols (ok who is kidding who, I am a stickler for appropriateness and protocols, to put it mildly) but that guy Bob that you bump into at the coffee machine once a day or every other day, is no more your friend than those 250 or more followers you have on Instagram. And no, your mother doesn't count as one of your friends either. 

Almost ALL of the people you work with are your colleagues and acquaintances. In the 21st Century of ever-increasing social media outlets and more and more ways to avoid actual relationship building, individuals find it more and more difficult to build authentic relationships anywhere, never mind at work. 

As far as workplace relationships go, you are probably wise to consider who you are dealing with. Does the person over the cubicle wall exhibit the traits and character of someone you would want to call your friend? Ever thought about that? 

It takes years to cultivate a bona fide, genuine friendship. I would venture to say that those workplace relationships are surface at best. Sure, you can discuss the game, last night's episode of whatever or the weather. And of course, you can discuss your work. How do those topics make a friendship? 

Character, trust, common interest, intelligence, emotional intelligence, relationship intelligence. These are things to consider in a friendship. 

Do you consider a friend someone you have never had dinner with? How often has Bob been over for a BBQ, babysat your kids on date night or been there for you during a difficult moment? Is he someone you could trust with your challenges around raising children, elderly parents or any number of other personal issues? 

On the flip side, do you give away those inner thoughts and dreams to someone who has not earned the right or earned the trust? 

I view my centres of influence in circles that become increasingly closer and smaller. It starts wide, people I've met a couple of times, we might remember each other's names, and we have connected over a common interest - which may, in fact, be work, a sports team, a school meeting or whatever. The circles go all the way from very wide to my innermost circle, which has probably got fewer than the number of fingers on one hand. 

Do I just suck at having friends or am I just very discerning and careful about who gets in? Even on social media, do you accept the friend request of a casual acquaintance? People I've met in work settings can connect with me on LinkedIn. That is what that network is for! 

Workplace romances are another no-no in my books. For anyone. They complicate the work, make it difficult to make independent decisions and can really mess with the team culture. It's different if you are already married and go into business together, quite different. 

I worked at one company where no one ever changed their name when they got married because the whole company was so interbred. It became tricky on work panels or workgroups because you could easily have married couples and differing opinions, or you couldn't disagree with your colleague because your boss was their spouse.  You get the picture. Some were even married, divorced and re-married to someone in the same building. And of course, the very worst, the workplace affair. The two who never speak when they are both in the salad bar line in the cafeteria but who are meeting after work for a tryst, whilst their spouses are running the kids off to little league. No respect on this end. Unprofessional and not the character of someone I would call a friend. Full stop. 

In my work over 35+ years, I can count 3 people who have become friends. It didn't happen on purpose and took years to develop. In addition to that, a few who could become friends, if we cultivate the relationship into the future. Yet, some lovely people, many of whom I have great respect for and many more whom I have little regard for - but they would never know it, for any reason. 

I would challenge your thinking today. No amount of "likes" or "hearts" on Facebook, Instagram or anywhere are going to net you true friends. 

In addition, no amount of "bitching" about the boss is going to net you a true friend. I would venture to say that the co-complainer you meet at the water cooler is going to sell you out to the boss faster than you can say tiddlywinks. 

The best is the employee comes to the boss and says "people are saying" or I don't like this or that and everyone agrees with me. Oh really? Who nominated you to come and complain? If you asked them would they even acknowledge it? I've seen it happen over and over again. If you voluntold yourself to do the team "bidding", I would question not only your motives but whether you are even the right person for the team. 

A word to the wise, choose your friends carefully. 




Learn how coaching & development can benefit you and your teams.