Ok, this post is not going to be a happy one. But, it needs to be written.
I’ve owned businesses, and been self-employed, for a long time. I always got too close to my employees, make friends too quickly, and craved the kind of comradery that coworkers had. I almost always worked out badly. As a boss or manager, you can’t have friends at work. You can be friendly, but you can never truly open up and be friends. This really also goes for coworkers, even if you’re not the boss.
Lawyers and opportunistic people!
It’s that simple. The only reason you can’t truly make friends at work is the unfortunate part of human nature that makes people try to get ahead by pulling other people down.
So, you open up and tell an employee or coworker about your life. It will come back and bite you. They will either use it against you or tell someone else who will.
This is truly unfortunate because of the countless hours you spend with the people at work. Most of your life is spent with people who wouldn’t be your friend outside of work. I can remember many people I thought were friends. But, when they left the company, we never talked again.
Then, one time I overheard my staff planning to go out for drinks after work. They invited others on my staff and I was really looking forward to it. But the invitation never came. I realized then that I shouldn’t have even considered going, even if I was invited. The closest thing I could have is to invite them to join me after work, keep it light, and pay the check.
I think you can have friends at work, but they are your work friends. Eventually, after a long time, you could perhaps become true friends. But it takes a while and you’ll need to test it by meeting outside of your job, while staying very cautious.
My wife knows I crave friendship and tells me to just get over it and realize they are coworkers…not friends. I wish things were different but they aren’t. So, keep workplace relationships simple and be careful about what you share. Leave open the possibility that you can develop a real friendship, but don’t be upset if it doesn’t happen.
Remember the old advice to keep business and personal separated. That advice came from experience.
If you work so much that you don’t have time to cultivate other friendships, you’ll just have to wait until you have more time. Reach out to old friends. Try to get together with them and I think you’ll find they have the same problems at work.
As for me, my wife, son, and daughter are my focus and that’s where I spend most of my free time.