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Colleague or Friend?

Colleague or Friend?

Sep 20 2016

Most people that I know have a good buddy at work – or maybe more than one. The person you clicked with on day one, or perhaps someone you didn’t know very well for a while but then you realised you had a lot in common and you became friends. Often you eat lunch together, you go to the pub together. You might even socialise outside of work, visit each other’s homes, go shopping together on a Saturday or text each other when you’re not in work.

Having friends at work is a good thing, that’s not in dispute. No one wants to go to work with people they don’t like and having colleagues that are friends makes the whole process of going to work much nicer. It can even make you more productive; your need to ‘help’ your friends out can lead to increased team spirit, camaraderie and willingness to ‘go the extra mile’ and you probably won’t feel this way with people you don’t like. Added to which, if you’re having a bad day or going through a tough time, these are the people that will lift you up, pick up the slack and make you a cuppa when you need one.

This being said, it’s always worth remembering that your colleagues are your colleagues first and friends second. Don’t be surprised if someone you saw as your friend suddenly goes for (and gets) the promotion you were after, or takes credit for some work that you did together. Fundamentally, those you work with will prioritise their own career needs above yours. That’s not a criticism; you have to remember that in most working environments you have to put yourself first, because given the same opportunity your colleagues will do that, too. Your actual friends are your friends for a myriad of reasons and are (hopefully) loyal to you; that kind of loyalty takes years and even decades to develop and won’t suddenly exist after three months of working together.

If you’re lucky enough to work with a friend (i.e. someone who was your friend first and then became a colleague), this probably won’t apply but be careful not to mix business with pleasure and leave work issues at work…don’t let them tip too much into your personal lives.

Be friends with those at work, enjoy their company and be a good team player…but when push comes to shove, don’t forget that you’re there to succeed and showcase your own talents and abilities. Hiding your light under a bushel will only lead to disappointment when you realise you’re the only one doing it.