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Should you Have Best Friends at Work?

black women as friends in the office

A Friend In Need

I recently had a convo with a friend (let’s call her Joy) who was upset about something at work. Joy discovered that someone whom she thought was a good friend had betrayed her confidences. She kept theirs but this friend at work didn’t keep hers.

I listened carefully, to Joy and empathized with her because betrayal of any kind or of any size hurts whether you want to admit it or not. It’s the feeling of vulnerability that bothers us and if you’re like me, you can go through some self flagging because you are trying to figure out where you went wrong; what action you let go unnoticed or what little thing was said that you overlooked that got you to this point.

Anyway I listened intently to Joy as she told me how disappointed and upset she was. When she was done with the story, she wanted my opinion and as a typical Jamaican especially one who “grow wid dem granny” I often start with a story to get to a point.

So I started with a familiar story, one she knew well because she saw it go down. That story? Ok real quick: 7 years ago, around the time leading up to, during and after my wedding all of my friendships changed. OK, not all of them but some pretty significant ones. So to keep the story short, the fallout was bad and years and in other cases a decade of friendships ended with collateral damages. Who didn’t take sides found it uncomfortable being neutral in the middle.

So I said all of that to say to her that, if this is the outcome of friendships gone bad outside of work – then imagine what can and will happen to the ones that go bad at work?

Cue the famous intro “Nuh true dreddy? Yeaah”

Frustrated Woman Working At Desk

Repercussions

When you have a friend and that friend betrays you, at most you’re losing friends and/or you might get a bad reputation. But when you make friends at work and they go bad, you run the risk of losing more than friends, your income is at stake, your professional life and/or reputation is at stake.

Now don’t get me wrong, generally I’m friendly with my coworkers. I will tell funny stories about my kids or family. Maybe talk about a TV show or something but mi sorry mi not telling anyone in the office anything in confidence about my personal life. Now for everything there are exceptions but they’re usually fewer. But let’s face it, there are levels to the different relationships at work.

Like at my last job, I was very social and I was unusually close to the people in my department. Not secret telling but more chatty than normal and texts outside of work. Until one day…I experienced the pettiest of behaviors for adults that made me uncharacteristically lose my professional self. No where in the 9 months working with the department did I ever think I would experience that level of disrespect.

So after telling my friend the story, I reminded her that me different when it comes to these things. I explained to her that one of the things that made me different and little challenging was that I didn’t go to work and build all these very close relationships. Even with my last experience as much as the first response I thought of was to withdraw from any level of engagement or camaraderie with coworkers I knew better.

Black woman in thought

Penny for thoughts

What advice would you give to Joy?

What is your opinion about making friends at work?

Have you dealt with a betrayal at work? How did you handle it?

When it comes to making friends at work – what’s too much or what’s too little?

What is the line that you do not cross?

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