Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Are we friends? (Day 9)

We all raise this ques once in a while.  We are always unsure of how to behave with colleagues –
  • Shall we be very friendly?
  • Shall we be nice but keep distance?
  • Shall we just be very professional and talk only about work (ok apart from weather here in NL – which apparently is the elevator talk topic and is considered perfect in any situation)?
  • Shall we be very open and friendly after all we spend more time with colleagues than with family?
  • Shall we be friendly but only while we are at work – outside that we are strangers?

Loads of such questions pop up in mind when you come across some different personalities one has to deal with at workplace. And if its in a foreign country that makes it even more confusing. In that case you have to be careful about  topics of small talk. – you never know what can become culturally-unacceptable and what can become intrusion-of-privacy !  Even after being here for over 5 years,  I am still unsure if people talk openly. They indeed are straight forward and open but in limited areas. I still have to be careful about what I am saying lest it becomes bossy or any kind of intrusion. I still have to think carefully whether I should discuss my heart-out (Ok sometimes its needed – right? Sometimes you need someone to listen to you without reaching to conclusions. Sometimes you should have the right to say whatever comes out and not filter and analyse) There is a thin line between interruption and suggestion.  We need to observe the surroundings in detail to decide and act. People have different personalities and they can react differently – many times not what we expect. Again there is thin line between acceptance, Approval and appreciation. From the face of it – they all look the same but they make all the difference based on what the receiving side is expecting.

There are these questions – Is calling people by name being rude? Is refraining from criticizing others being nice and kind? Is going out of your way to praise people being very friendly?

There are lots of factors which can help us decide these – the culture, the relationship ( whether the colleague is your manager, or subordinate or just team member or just colleague from totally different department),  your position ( general human behavior says people are more accepting when you are in slightly more powerful position  - power - ahmm) , the situation, the topic, the timing of day ( that’s helps a lot in certain cases – you cannot start talking like 5 minutes before its time to go home…no one would ever accept the idea of getting late for home – the work-home balance is so good here – time of one  is absolutely non negotiable at the cost of other )

Meeting outside work sometimes – best if you can manage to meet along with your partners – is very useful in building those healthy relationships at workplace. A quick lunch together or just 2 minutes chat at the coffee corner all help keep a neutral and healthy relation. Refrain from sharing strong opinions about other colleagues unless you are 100% sure about it.

Everyone at workplace is friendly (add open, nice, kind straight forward and closeness to it) with someone or the other.  If your ideas are not clicking or there is this unexplained distant feeling in-between – try to ignore and keep your conversations limited to until totally unavoidable situation.

Usually workplace friendships die a slow death when you move to another company. It’s the memories which last forever. So whatever it is – try to collect nice ones and take along. It’s a long road with lot more. Take along those who matter!

“Work is work, we’re hired to do a job, and as long as that takes priority, friendships can emerge naturally, be very constructive and [be] quite enjoyable,” says Janie Fritz, associate professor of communication and rhetorical studies at Duquesne University.


  1. what a lovely post bharti and how true

  2. Thanks Monika. Workplace relationships is in itself a totally mysterios theory :)


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