Author Topic: Friends in the workplace?  (Read 1071 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.
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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.
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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. :)