Is it true that work friends are not real friends?
I’ve heard this said a number of times, but I have to say that it’s absolute nonsense.
Sure, some coworkers are just being friendly because you have to work together, but it’s possible to make awesome friends at work – and many people do.
The important thing is that you know how to tell the difference between a coworker who really likes you, and someone who is just a ‘work friend’.
Here are some of the signs you can look out for:
Can Work Friends Be Real Friends?
First of all, I want to quash any of those rumors or sayings that work friends are not the same as real friends.
People you work with can absolutely be real friends!
In fact, some of my best friends are people that I’ve met through work.
Don’t get me wrong though, the workplace and the working dynamic change how we interact with others, and it often makes it more difficult to be good friends.
To make a close bond with someone and become good ‘friends’, you really have to open up and let someone get to know you – and vice versa.
This is hard in the workplace as you’re supposed to be working and not chatting about personal things.
But it happens.
After all, most of us spend more time with some of our coworkers than we do with our own family members and friends.
So, don’t be surprised if you start feeling like certain faces you’re seeing every day at work are becoming your best friends, they might just be!
However, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between a work friend and a real friend as the lines can easily get blurred.
The last thing you want is to confide in a coworker or rely on them for something important, only to be let down and find out they are not as close as you thought they were.
5 Signs That a Coworker Is a Real Friend
Here are five signs that indicate a coworker is a real friend or at least a lot more than just a ‘work friend’:
They make an effort to talk to you every day – A real friend will make an effort to talk to you every day, even if it’s just for a quick catch-up. They will also ask how you’re doing and genuinely care about your answer.
You can confide in them – A real friend is someone you can confide in. You know that they won’t judge you or tell anyone else what you’ve said.
They help you out – A real friend will go out of their way to help you, whether it’s with a work task or something personal.
You can rely on them – You know that if you need anything, your real friend will be there for you. If a coworker has demonstrated this, they’re more than just a colleague.
You have fun together – It’s fun spending time with a real friend, and you end up laughing and having that feeling in the pit of your stomach, you know, that feeling that you enjoy being around them!
5 Signs That a Coworker Is NOT a Real Friend
On the flip side, here are five signs that indicate a coworker is NOT a real friend:
They don’t remember anything about you – If a coworker doesn’t remember your name, birthday, family members, or anything you’ve told them about yourself, then they’re definitely not a friend.
You feel awkward around them – If you feel uncomfortable or like you can’t be yourself around a coworker, then they’re probably not someone you would consider a friend.
They talk about you behind your back – This one is pretty self-explanatory – if a coworker is talking about you behind your back, they’re definitely not your friend.
They take credit for your work – If a coworker tries to take credit for your work or ideas, they’re not a friend. Friends support and lift each other up, they don’t try to take advantage in the workplace to get praise from the boss.
They don’t have any other friends – This one is a bit of a red flag. If a coworker doesn’t seem to have any other friends at work, it might be because they’re not an easy person to get along with or don’t want to form friendships at work.
Should You Make Close Friends at Work?
Whether or not you want to make close friends at work is entirely up to you.
Some people love the idea of being able to confide in and rely on their coworkers.
Others prefer to keep their work life and personal life separate.
There’s no right or wrong answer, it all depends on what makes you feel comfortable.
If you do want to make close friends at work, just be sure to tread carefully and be aware of the signs that indicate whether someone really has your best interests at heart.
Most people want to further their careers and as a famous quote so rightly says:
“Wherever there is power, greed, and money, there is corruption.”
A lot of people in the professional working environment will do whatever it takes to get ahead on the corporate ladder, be mindful of this.
Should You Be Good Friends With Your Boss/Manager?
This is a tough one to answer, and another question with no right or wrong answer and also depends on your individual situation.
For some people, being friends with their boss improves their working environment and makes them more productive.
It can also have its ‘perks’. Your boss might be more lenient with you if you make a mistake, for example.
On the other hand, it can be difficult to maintain a professional relationship if you’re also friends with your boss.
You might find it difficult to speak up if you have a problem with something they’re doing, for example.
It’s something you need to think carefully about, especially how or if it changes how you behave around them.
Sometimes it’s unavoidable, too. I’ve had bosses who were so personable and friendly that we became friends naturally, and it worked out just fine.
Work friends can be great, but it’s important to be aware of the signs that indicate whether someone is a real friend or just a fake one.
If you want to make close friends at work, that’s fine, just be mindful of the possible consequences.
And finally, think carefully about whether being friends with your boss is something that would work for you and if you’re working on that relationship for all the right reasons.
Image credits – Photo by Mapbox on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.