By Jennifer Granger
  • Working at friendship

    Working at friendship


Having inter-office friendships can be both a minefield and a joy. Jennifer Granger offers tips to navigate these choppy waters

There’s no reason why an inter-officer friendship shouldn’t be a positive part of all our working lives. The trick is to make sure that you are well set up to have joy rather than heartache when forming friendships at work.

Friendship at work can be the difference between loving your job and feeling as if you are a prisoner, a prisoner where the only difference is you are allowed to go home at night.

When assessing what could be a friendship at work, it’s essential that you are aware of who you are and what makes you tick in the first instance.

When you are clear on your needs and what your motivations are for driving the need for the friendship, then you are in a better position to make strategic decisions when it comes to these potentially
dishonest alliances.

It is wise to make sure that you are not just being needy or even worse afraid of your work environment. If these two factors are the drivers, then you are apt to make some costly choices that you may come to regret in the future. You have to move the needle on your own personal development if you are going to be a secure person who would like to make some genuine connections with their fellow workers.

Once you have taken an audit of your needs, wants and who you are as a person, then it is time to take the next step and begin to evaluate the office environment. This will require patience and observance.

It’s advisable to assess the general friendliness of your colleagues as a whole. Do people get along well together or is there a level of toxicity at play? This is an important barometer when looking to form friendships at work. If people are behaving well as colleagues and many are friends then it's probably safe to assume that it is a healthy environment.

On the other hand if there is backbiting and negativity, beware. Friendships formed in these environments are usually borne out of need to band together rather than from a basis of any genuine affection for each other.

These kinds of friendships in the workplace are fickle. If the tide turns then you are at risk of the dynamic of the friendship shifting and it could well turn to enmity.

Close associations at work need to be viewed differently to the close friendships you have in your private life, the simple reason being that the relationships you have outside of work would have had a strong and different basis for their formation.

You might have gone to kindy together and stayed friends forever. The camaraderie formed at school and university is often forged thanks to similar interests or the shared experience of adolescence. Growing up together can be a powerful bonding agent.  These situations are not at play in the workforce, so be careful.

Workplace friendship is an immediately mature situation that is formed and bound by the adult people you are now. You do not have history and so the odds are that you will not be as easily forgiven for any misdemeanors that are committed within these more discriminating friendships.

I am quite sure that workplace friendships have the ability to become really connected bonds that survive the test of time, but it is always a risk and it is best for you to exercise a little patience while the friendship develops and proves itself to you.

A key component of the workplace friendship is the element of competition. Are you likely to have to compete with your newly formed friend in the future? Are you on the same trajectory? If so, you might want to rethink if this is the right kind of attachment for you to form at work. Perhaps that person is best kept at arm’s length for the sake of both your future happiness. Weigh up whether they could be more suitable as a work acquaintance rather than an intimate friend.

Bear in mind that for someone to have the inside track on your thinking and your ultimate ambitions may not be the wisest choice. Envy and jealousy are strong emotions that are ever-present when competition is at play.

Friendships, like all relationships, are far easier to get into than to get out of so make good choices in the short term to avoid heartache in the long term.  

Jennifer Granger worked as a corporate insider on four continents over a 20- year period before becoming a transformational coach. Living now in Melbourne, she is the author of a new groundbreaking book, Feminine Lost: Why Most Women are Male. Her book discusses the sorry state of relationships between men and women in the boardrooms and bedrooms around the world and she explains how finding one’s own correct balance of internal energies creates a better life at work and at home.  

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