Thursday, 21 August 2014

Who goes there... Friend or Colleague?

I spent a very pleasant 15 minutes chatting to a colleague on the telephone this morning, entirely about business, but both sharing our feelings about some of the challenges we share and some of those that we are dealing with within our own 'specialist' functions. We concluded our conversation saying how much we were looking forward to spending some 'social' and business time together next week.

Having had a rotten commute into work (train broke down, delayed my arrival by an hour), and not being especially enthused by my task list for the day, I came off the 'phone smiling and energised to get on with my day. And that got me thinking. What was it about that conversation that 'gee'd' me up for the day? Why did that feel so unusual? And I concluded that it was because I viewed that individual as more than just a colleague, but as a friend. And then I started wondering what it is that turns a colleague into a friend, followed immediately by questioning how many 'friends' I actually have at work. 

Time is an element of course. We have worked together for several years now. But it's more than that. We recognise in each other a 'kindred spirit', an emotional exchange (intelligence?) that allows us to share our thoughts and feelings about our work, without fear that we will be judged or rated on what is said. We also have a deep respect for, and rely on, each other's knowledge and professionalism. 

Hence this tweet which I was then inspired to post and which got a lot of 'faves' and retweets...

Another tweeter, Ade Adtukasi (@ohcsolutions), commented "Maybe we need to rethink the traditional definition of work-life balance", whilst Michael Osborne (@MikeOzzy) reported "...I have a combination of both. :)" - the smiley face being a big clue here, I think. 
Believe me when I say I'm not looking for new friends here; I've got plenty, thanks. But, having friends at work, people that you can collaborate with, offer help to and ask for help from, seek counsel from and - critically, in my view - have a laugh with, should be cherished.

Now, in no way do I mean to 'diss' any of my other colleagues, with whom I have many very amiable and productive relationships, just as I have in the outside world; social media being one (several?) of them). But on how many fingers of how many hands can I count these people as my friends?

And if you were to do the same, what sort of numbers would you come up with? What value would you place on them? And does it matter?

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