Author Topic: Friends in the workplace?  (Read 2544 times)

WootWoot

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Friends in the workplace?
« on: December 21, 2017, 11:06:14 AM »
Today is my last day of work before the Christmas break (I work in academia). My only friend, and the only person I trust at work, is leaving to go to another state and another job.

I don't blame her. This place offers very little opportunity for a young professional. But when she told me she was leaving, I thought I was going to burst into tears. I managed to pull myself together and not cry. Then I went into someone's empty office and I did cry.

She's the only person here that ever, in five years, gave me an opportunity to do something outside the constraints of my extremely dull job. Since management never tells us anything, she was always the one who would tell me what was going on behind the scenes.

Now I'm wondering if it's just not right to have friends in the workplace. Not to expect to have them. I've been lucky enough to have had a few good ones over the years, but I've also picked the wrong ones at at least one job and I think it hurt my image in the department.

I'm awfully lonely here...

Just Joe

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2017, 12:12:59 PM »
The big problem for me with friends at work is they can put pressure on you to adopt their own feelings and attitudes about coworkers.

My closest coworker does this. Doesn't like some idea or some person and pressures me to agree. I tend to take a more neutral stance. Not every idea or person  requires a publicly held opinion.

I have several coworkers I could probably be close to outside of work but generally speaking I socialize with them at work and only work.

Erick

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2017, 07:28:10 PM »
I'm very close with a lot of coworkers, generally speaking most everyone at work is very tight knit. I took a pay cut to come to this company for this reason and this is the first job that I didn't absolutely despise.

I say all of this as a way of saying I think that being lonely and socially isolated at work is one of the least gratifying and most difficult ways to spend the best hours of your life. Having been in your shoes I would say that jumping ship and looking for an office where you're a better fit is a much better plan than never trying to have a meaningful connection in the workplace ever again.

Hula Hoop

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2017, 06:00:46 AM »
I have a bunch of good friends at work plus lots of acquaintances.  Most are in other departments so we don't work directly together.  I've been at my job 10 years and one of the things i enjoy the most is the social aspect.

I agree that, if possible, you should start putting out feelers for new jobs if you are that socially isolated.

Just Joe

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2017, 11:27:58 AM »
I just handle the overly opinionated coworker differently than my other coworkers. Sometimes isolation is useful b/c then I can concentrate on solving an engineering problem. I get along well with most of my other coworkers. There are a few that self isolate and choose not to be outgoing. That's fine for them.

I'm kind of introverted so I get all the socializing I want in a day's time.

FWIW I don't spend alot of time away from work with my coworkers most of the time.

A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2017, 10:40:30 AM »
The big problem for me with friends at work is they can put pressure on you to adopt their own feelings and attitudes about coworkers.

I definitely run into this problem. I have a friend or two at work that has extreme personality clashes with other workers. I don't have anything close to the same problems, so it feels awkward when he goes on a rant about these other coworkers and I just don't agree.

I do not associate with any coworkers outside work....besides work parties or lunch or what have you.

jinga nation

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2017, 11:38:59 AM »
I work in IT, I have one workplace friend that I have invited to my kids' birthday parties as our kids are the same age. And he's got common interests esp. being frugal.

Other than him, no workplace friends. I don't trust anyone. When anyone tried to be your buddy, next thing you know they're pushing their work on you so they can skate. I'm being paid to get work done, be valuable to my company and the customer, get challenged, build up experiences and move on.

My personal friends and workplace "friends" will never meet, except the one mentioned above.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2017, 12:12:39 PM »
I've had an easy time making friends at most of the jobs I worked over the years.

We're actually flying down to Tampa for a week and staying with a couple who I met through work. I was his manager in a retail gig I worked for 4.5 years. I've made a number of friends there, and have pulled a few into my current company.

I made 3 close friends at my current employer, but we are an extroverted bunch working in sales.

SwordGuy

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2017, 12:58:36 PM »
Anyone you befriend can move out of town.   Don't be silly.

Make lots of friends so you don't miss one so much.

Or at least be friendly with lots of people.  You never know where you're new best friend will show up from, but they aren't likely to notice (or care if they do) the person moping around in their office.

Be the person you want people to befriend.

chemistk

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2017, 01:23:51 PM »
I think it's fine, in the right professions, to have friends in the workplace. I know folks whose social circles were constructed from workplace friends. They ended up having lots of non-coworker friends because of this, so it can be done.

But there are also professions where building relationships is superficial and your "friend" would gladly sell you down the river for a raise or promotion.

Generally though if you have a hard time making friends outside of the workplace, you shouldn't expect that just because you spend 40+ hours a week with a group of people you'll develop a close relationship with them. I personally have a lot of work acquaintances with whom I can have small conversations and sometimes grab lunch with but I wouldn't call them close friends by any means. I have nothing against them, but age differences, personal priorities, and where I live relative to everyone else really muffles any potential close friendships.

There are days when I look around and want a little more personal interaction, but then sometimes I also think it helps me keep a clear head and makes it easier if I were ever to take another job.

Aelias

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2018, 01:16:56 PM »
To the OP: that's rough.  I'm sorry you're feeling lonely.

I will admit that I'm very guarded with my coworkers and particularly supervisors.  I started my career in 2008, so one of the formative experiences of my working life was watching mass layoffs.  Dozens of people, many of whom seemed to be highly respected, cast off with barely a second thought. I then saw the close knit group of people I started that job with disintegrate over a couple of years. 

The difference between work relationships and real friendships is that friendships demand loyalty and jobs do not. At the end of the day, I'm an at-will employee.  A company has no loyalty to me or any other employee. It can drop me at any time for any reason or no reason, and I have limited recourse.  I can also leave at any time.  That means that any friendships that start at work are necessarily built on this very shaky framework.

I'm in a good job now, and I'm starting to feel some trust and friendship toward my coworkers.  But I recognize the limits of it.

Just Joe

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2018, 08:24:13 AM »
I hope your outlook has brightened a little since the original message. Might be worth eating lunch in the cafeteria with a few coworkers once a week if you have the opportunity so that you build some new connections. Reach out to people. Some can be too shy to initiate something that could be very enjoyable. Test the waters and build a network of people you can socialize with at work even if you aren't socializing with them away from work.

Sibley

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2018, 07:34:22 PM »
@WootWoot, late to the party. I think you're looking at this wrong.

1. No, you should not seek out true friends at work. If it happens, ok, or maybe even great. But it isn't a goal. (True friends would be people that you regularly spend time with OUTSIDE work.) There are too many serious problems that can happen when people in the workplace are too close - cliques, excluding new employees without meaning to, etc. Ask A Manager has quite a sprinkling of posts that illustrate these issues.

2. You should strive to be friendly with all your coworkers. It's part of contributing to a healthy, pleasant workplace. this includes exchanging pleasantries, light news about family/vacations, etc. This is likely to be superficial, and that is ok. That is even desired.

The issues you mention about mgmt not telling anyone anything - that's the culture. It has nothing to do with if you have a friend at work. If you don't like the culture, then either make your peace with it, or find a new job. Personally, I don't think I'd like that culture as you describe it. Other people may not mind. Since you're unhappy, start looking. I hope you find something that you can enjoy with a good pay rate :)

WootWoot

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2018, 08:47:23 AM »
Sorry I disappeared for a while. Was busy with the holidays and a court case (which is over, thankfully).

I am generally friendly with everyone, but I have had jobs in the past where I did have a "best friend" at work. I'm still friends with one of my former coworkers from the best job I ever had, and we see each other for lunch at least once a month. Others, I've lost touch with.

I would dearly love to find another, better paying job. I do keep my eyes open. But I've been out of my field for more than 5 years, the nature of that work has changed, and I get very discouraged b/c I never see anything that I feel I can really do. I took this job b/c 1) I was jobless for two years; and 2) I thought I wanted to pursue a professional degree in this field. I changed my mind. I didn't really like what I was doing before either, but I did it for 7 years.

At this point, at age 53, I'm just kind of looking forward to retirement (probably at the "usual" age). If I go on and on about this, it'll need a separate thread!

Thanks to you all for weighing in on this. :)


Roadrunner53

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2018, 07:10:02 AM »
One of the last female friends I had at work I really cared for like a sister (I am female too). We both have great sense of humor and could laugh the day away. She and I really clicked with our work responsibilities and I could count on her to always do the job well. She was a temp and I was full time. She had worked with me for maybe 3 years. Then the company decided to move out of state and we all lost our jobs. She was let go much earlier than me and I expected we would stay in touch and go out to lunch now and then or a phone call or email to keep up with our lives. None of the above happened. She basically disappeared. Another coworker and I tried to make a date with her for lunch and she just wouldn't make plans. We hugged and both had tears on her last day. So, I know there were no hard feelings. I lost my job too. She was newly divorced and had two kids so maybe she just was busy but I think she could have made a little time to continue our friendship. Work friendships are rare I guess. I have had what I thought were friends at work over the years and never hear from any of them.

WootWoot

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2018, 11:57:51 AM »
I can identify with those of you who had work friends who "disappeared" after you no longer worked together.

Here are two stories about the best job I ever had and the "friends" I made there:

1. One was my boss. She was everything you ever wanted in a boss--kind, encouraging, understanding, humorous...etc. She had a great relationship with our team (we were journalists at a newspaper, and divided into teams). Used to put little Hershey kisses and stuff like that on our keyboards to surprise us. After she took another job in another city, we never heard a word from her. People in the newsroom kept asking us, "So....what do you hear from Mary?" It was almost embarrassing to say that we'd heard zilch. I talked to my spouse about it. His take on it was, "She really WAS a good manager...but not your friend. After all, she got you to do what she wanted you to do, and you all liked coming to work." In a sense, I felt like I'd been "had."

2.  Same job: I did have a real friend on the same team (Susie), who became my manager after Mary left. This was fine--our relationship did not change at all. She never needed to "be the boss" with me--we were more like a married couple. However, after I left the paper, the only time I saw her was 1) at her wedding and 2) once for lunch. Oh, and once I ran into her at the OB/GYN. She is not much of an online person, and we never talked much on the phone.

Said workplace had an employee reunion last year. I did not attend. One of the organizers kept trying to entice me to come by telling me Susie was going to be there. I was tempted (even though I was undergoing some social anxiety issues). Then I thought, Hey, Susie hasn't bothered to email or call me in years. I'm not going just because she's going to be there.


Roadrunner53

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2018, 12:16:35 PM »
Yes, WootWoot, I feel duped too with my friendship with my 'friend' at work. Very sad to share stories of your life with people to just have them abandon you. What even makes me more mad is when she got divorced I asked my Hub to help her move! He had a large trailer he towed behind his truck and was able to put large pieces of furniture on it. That makes me so angry that I got him involved.

You mention workplace reunion and I feel the same way about high school reunions. My last one was a few years ago and this one woman who happens to be my dog groomer and high school classmate kept pestering me to go. NOPE, those people have never reached out to me and were not that friendly with me in HS so why on earth would I want to spend one evening with them? I actually did go to my first reunion and it was boring as hell. All the people who were friends in HS sat with each other and didn't mingle. It was the same old thing just like HS. The jocks and the cheerleaders were all in their little worlds. I decided that night when I left, that I would never attend another reunion.

I think your Hub was right about your manager being a good manager...of deception!

WootWoot

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2018, 12:46:13 PM »
I've never attended a single HS reunion. A couple of friends practically begged me to go, but those years were hell for me (I was a victim of bullying) and I have no desire to see 99.9% of those people again.

My mom said something similar to what you said: the cliques were the same and the people were the same!

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2018, 01:32:38 PM »
She was everything you ever wanted in a boss--kind, encouraging, understanding, humorous...etc. She had a great relationship with our team (we were journalists at a newspaper, and divided into teams). Used to put little Hershey kisses and stuff like that on our keyboards to surprise us. After she took another job in another city, we never heard a word from her. People in the newsroom kept asking us, "So....what do you hear from Mary?" It was almost embarrassing to say that we'd heard zilch. I talked to my spouse about it. His take on it was, "She really WAS a good manager...but not your friend. After all, she got you to do what she wanted you to do, and you all liked coming to work." In a sense, I felt like I'd been "had."

This is kind of funny to me because what you describe here is nothing like what I would want in a manager, except for the part where she never contacts you again. I don't think she was deceptive at all!

I am friendly and sociable at work because it makes the time spent there more pleasant. But these people are not friends that I have chosen, they are people that the company has decided to hire. When I/they move on, I will wish them well (and mean it), and probably never see them again.


Just Joe

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Re: Friends in the workplace?
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2018, 02:17:49 PM »
I've never attended a single HS reunion. A couple of friends practically begged me to go, but those years were hell for me (I was a victim of bullying) and I have no desire to see 99.9% of those people again.

My mom said something similar to what you said: the cliques were the same and the people were the same!

Hear! Hear! I never went to any of my reunions. HS was a tough period I was glad to put behind me. Went to DW's reunions (same school, different year) and several holiday gatherings. It was okay but nothing long term came of it. The folks we spent time with were only people that DW spent a little time with in HS. We discovered after a couple of events that we are still people with different interests than her classmates.

DW has a boss that she gets along with like a sister but they do not eat lunch together, don't go out together, or do anything together outside of work. Prob boss carefully not appearing to pick favorites. DW is thankful to have this boss though. Definitely her best boss ever.

We've both had coworkers we've helped move, repaired cars and houses for, and hosted dinner for that just drift away after a while. We're only close to a few - which is fine. We could probably call in some favors if necessary but never have but with the few we are close with and we reciprocate.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2018, 02:19:46 PM by Just Joe »