Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Co-Workers vs. Friends

by Lawyer Working Girl

My company recently hired a new employee. Since the new hire was a woman and since she was new to the area, I was sure to introduce myself to her. We started talking and she asked if I wanted to have lunch one day soon so she could pick my brain about work and the city. Absolutely! After all, as much as I move, I'm usually the "new kid on the block" and I always welcome insight from others, so this was my chance to help someone else.

So we had lunch and it was cool. I didn't really think too much about it or the new hire after that until the following weekend when she sent me a text asking if I wanted to have lunch. It was a busy day for me so I told her that I couldn't, but maybe some other time. To be honest, I said it in the same manner that we say to people, "We'll have to get together soon" or "I'll call you" but you don't really mean it. It just somehow slips out of your mouth before you can stop yourself from saying it.

That next work week she asked if I wanted to have lunch again and inquired about my New Year's Eve plans. At this point it hit me. She wants to be friends. She's new to the city and doesn't know anyone outside of work and she wants to be my friend.

For me, if I'm going to be friends with someone I work with it just has to happen naturally, like with any friends I make. I don't force friendships to happen. I'm friends with about three people at work (actually, I should probably downgrade one person, but that is a post for another day), meaning that I hang out with them outside of work (that's a key part in me calling someone I work with a friend), but none of these friendships were forced. We got to know each other by working together and talking at work, and then it eventually led to "hey, let's all grab a bite to eat after work" or "You want to have lunch?" After a while, we started hanging out away from work. We didn't go from "Hi, it's nice to meet you" to "Let's hang out this weekend." I don't do instant friendships.

I feel bad that I don't want to hang out with her outside of work...yet. I mean, I still don't really know her. We had lunch, I shared a little about work and the city, and we learned a little bit about each other. Cool. I'm just not trying to hang out regularly, until I get to know someone and determine that they are someone I would be friends with. Does that sound harsh? Do you get what I'm saying? I don't know her personality yet, I don't know what she likes to do, I don't know...well, I just don't know her.

Working Girls, are you friends with any of your co-workers? Did your friendships just happen naturally? How do you handle a co-worker wanting to be your BFF?


Suz said...

in my experience the more friends you have at work the better. I still have friends that I stay in contact with from all my past jobs. it helps your teamwork so much if you have a great rapport with someone and that often has to be built outside the office.

But I don't think you can force it if you don't click. there are just some people you won't like.

Jill said...

I wish i had friends at work, they are all older! I'm 24 and the youngest in the office

Neurotic Workaholic said...

The people I work with are my students, and I'm not friends with any of them. Actually, a group of my students once invited me to go out drinking with them, but I said no because I didn't think it'd be a good idea. I figure it's best to keep it professional. And I don't hang out with most of the other instructors since we don't really spend much time together.
As far as your coworker goes, your reasons for deciding whether or not to be friends with someone sound perfectly valid. She's probably just lonely, but you shouldn't feel obligated to be her friend just because of that. It's like you said; friendships have to form naturally, because otherwise you'll just end up dreading the time you spend with each other.

Katie said...

I get it. I do have one really good friend at work. But I had been working here AT LEAST a year before we first hung out together outside of work. But now we talk, text, and hang out all the time. I totally agree though-- you can't just jump into it. Although the poor girl is clearly dying for some companionship if she's new in town, so I can understand her persistence too.

Marie said...

I think this is so tricky because as you discovered, you can't keep saying "maybe another weekend" forever...

I have hung out with a couple co-workers but only a few times. I really like my co-workers but after spending 40 hrs/wk with them, I prefer to spend my free time with non-work friends.

I do feel for the new co-worker, though; it must be tough not to know anybody. Would it be possible to arrange for a happy hour or other group outing with people from work? That way she gets to widen her circle and it also takes the pressure off you as her only potential friend.

Anonymous said...

If his girl waits for things to happen 'naturally' she could be faced with having no social life at all for the next 6 months to a year! What an awful prospect.

I think is it is brave of her to reach out like this. I think Marie's comment about a group social event is a great idea as you would be helping her to make connections without any personal commitment.

lisa said...

I like Marie's idea of a happy hour outing for a whole bunch of people from your office. Maybe she's so persistent because nobody else at your workplace has stuck out their neck and overtly made the effort to be friendly to her yet, and she's lonely.

SurvivingHeels said...

I think having friends at work is great! I couldn't make it through a day if I didn't have someone to complain/vent/discuss with.

I also completely see your point. It is so frustrating when people want to be bestfriend outside of work when you simply don't have the time.... or you don't see being "REAL LIFE" friends with.

Such a touchy subject. At the same time, if I move cities, I really hope people are willing to be friends with me that I work with!

SurvivingHeels said...

I think having friends at work is great! I couldn't make it through a day if I didn't have someone to complain/vent/discuss with.

I also completely see your point. It is so frustrating when people want to be bestfriend outside of work when you simply don't have the time.... or you don't see being "REAL LIFE" friends with.

Such a touchy subject. At the same time, if I move cities, I really hope people are willing to be friends with me that I work with!

Heather Pranitis said...

I have to say that I am friends with my co-workers however, we don't socialize outside of work. But, we do know all about each others lives. On a side, it does also depend where "one" is at on the food chain - if your management it makes things different, doesn't it? I agree that things should not be forced. You can ask someone to join you for lunch but, if they decline - "they decline". Forcing someone just is not the way.

Kirby said...

If you feel like she's not someone you can see yourself being friends with that's one thing, but to say no to getting to know her because you don't already know her doesn't make sense.
It is brave to try and make a new friend. I think the older we get the more forced it has to be because we don't have the same kinds of social situations once did.

Kathy said...

When I graduated uni I was working at one of the Big 4 accounting firms - a lot of grads there start at the same time so there is a big group of people, all aroud the same age, and you inevitably hang out outside of work. Of that group though, only a few became good friends of mine.
I left a couple of years ago and my work colleagues are now all much older than me. The one closest to my age is 8 years older, and he is already married with 4 kids. Everyone else is older than him by at least 15 years. I have become friends with the one who is closest to my age (and adore his kids), but it certainly isn't a close friendship.

Lawyer Working Girl said...

Thanks for all of the feedback! I like the suggestions to arrange a afterwork Happy Hour. I don't mind going to lunch on work days at all. It was just a quick from the first lunch to "let's hang out on the weekends." I definitely know what's its like to be the new Working Girl in town though, so maybe next week I will ask if she wants to have lunch. :-)

Anonymous said...

Yeah I gotta agree with Kirby on this one, it doesn't make sense that you don't want to get closer simply because you don't know her.

That's how you get to know people by having lunch or a coffee with them. What if that were you? How is this girl supposed to make any friends at work if no one gives her a chance?

I feel bad for her. Even if you don't want to be her friend, why don't you introduce her around the office. I like your idea of happy hour.

Remember what it was like when you made new friends? One of you had to make the first move to go out together.

I don't think she's trying to force anything, she's trying to be social. Its hard to make friends after college, so people try to make new friends at work.

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