Can you befriend you coworkers?

I finally made a friend at work, someone I can text with during work who completely understands what I’m frustrated about. However, despite our newfound friendship, I’m still hesitant to add her on Facebook.

There seems to be an unspoken rule at this new company. Only one colleague (from HR for background check) attempted to add me. That is bad enough already, cuz now I never bitch about my company at all. With other colleagues, I’m pretty happy with them not trying to be my real life friends. I like talking stuff a lot, but I still don’t want my colleagues to find out our stupid I am in reality or how young I am to be holding this title.

This raises a question, can you ever be friends with your co-workers?

Yes and no.

I think it really depends on your job nature. I made genuine friends with some co-works at one of my jobs. We were all young and our job duties didn’t require much team work. We were all doing our own things. There was no backstabbing (at least not that I know of) and we weren’t competing against each other for promotions or pay raises. I was so close to some co-workers that I would even confess to them about every bit of my relationships. I would also go shopping with them on the weekends. I was in such a harmonious work environment that I felt like I was working with my sorority sisters.

But I also experienced the most hostile working environment that I had to watch every move I made and cut myself off from any relationship with any co-worker to protect myself at another job. I would assume any one who works in the retail/sales industry can relate to that. When you get paid by commission, you and your co-workers are not partners, you are competitors within the company. People stand by to watch you fall. Every time you see a smile, you suspect something is wrong. People would exhaust all means to gather gossips. The most bizarre moment up-to-date was when a co-worker called me up late at night to tell me whatever hearsay he heard, after he was done talking, he said, “So what do you have to tell me? I told you so much! You can’t have nothing to say in return!” I was dumbfounded. I knew my fake friendship with that person was over the moment I heard it. From then onwards I avoided all contacts with them. I didn’t wanna be fighting in a jungle. I would rather be a loner if that’s what it has to come down to.

So after surviving several weeks at my current job I realized I really needed someone to listen to my rants but will not benefit from selling my out! I was sick of having to hangout with only those in my boss’ trusted circle (which made them soooo out of my trusted circle).

I was very careful in picking who to befriend with. It’s not like I was snobbish and didn’t wanna be close to those beneath my grade, but I made sure I don’t befriend anyone who would get me in trouble. After a month long observation, I eventually picked a girl (to eliminate any possibility of office romance rumors) who is of the same rank as me (so people can’t say I’m kissing up or exploiting juniors), similar age, whose job duties have nothing to do win mine (so our conflict of interests will be minima). In order not to act non-teamplayer-like, I still go to lunch with my boss every day, but every time my boss ditches us for some outside friends during lunch hour, I would happily seize the chance to grab my coffee with my new friend!

It’s good to have someone I can talk with/text when I feel suffocated in the office, but I still think at this stage what happens at work should stay at work. I guess I’m still too traumatized to let anyone in yet!

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About Nicky

Nicky English is a journalist, an educator, a podcaster, a couch potato, a dreamer, and a child at heart. Learning is her passion, so is the English language, which she believes is the tool to unlock the door of knowledge. Born in Hong Kong, she received intensive writing training at The University of Iowa, where she double-majored in journalism and political science. Apart from the Hawkeye State, she’s lived in Chicago and Philadelphia. When she was a guest student at Georgetown University, she fell in love with Washington, D.C. She also has a Master of Arts in Communication. A little side note—she cannot imagine a world without her Mac and iDevices. Like many crazy ones, she hopes to change the world one day at a time.
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