When work friends leave

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post about work friends, which I published on this blog mid-last year. I think I nailed the difference between work-friends and friends. Unfortunately I learnt this through the bitter pill that is experience. I could probably add a bit more meat to my blog post if I were to re-write this today, but the point remains the same.

What has prompted this blog post?

A colleague and friend left a couple of weeks ago. No more lunch time pub visits, no more lunch time walks, no more office banter that keeps us from going crazy. It’s was horrible feeling and I shed a few tears. I felt hollow in the days that followed. The dust has settled a bit now and I still feel sad, but I have arranged to see my friend towards the end of next month.

There is a a transition phase between seeing a colleague everyday at work and perhaps only once or twice a month as a friend. I don’t think anyone can really know whether a friendship made at work will survive this transition. We can do our bit and hope the ones we do want to survive this transition phase do survive.

life does happen and we move on.

I do not want to repeat my previous blog post, but there is no other way to saying that life does happen and we move on. I am under no illusion. There is a huge difference between being friends at work and keeping a friendship alive when one or both of you move on.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “out of sight, out of mind” are somewhat at odds with each other. But it is hard to argue that it isn’t easier to maintain a relationship when two people are in the same place nearly every day. Maintaining friendships usually requires ongoing time investments. Time is a premium and in the context of friendship, a work-friendship is maintained using ‘free-time’. You are both there regardless, a walk around a lake with a friend is a welcome break from sitting at a desk for another half an hour.

a work-friendship is maintained using ‘free-time’…..a friendship is maintained using our own, limited time

A genuine friendship is different. A friendship is maintained using our own, limited time, and we are probably all occasionally guilty of not finding the time to spend with our very nearest and dearest. There has to be something there that really connects for both people for a friendship to survive the transition from a work-friendship to a genuine friendship. Parenthood, relationships, commitments to a new job, other friendships; these are all things that we need to manage our new time-commitment around if a friendship is to survive the transition.

So what will become of my friendship with my colleague who has recently left? I really hope we do make it and I genuinely believe we will, it is a friendship worth fighting for.

I’ll finish another blog post with my favourite quote, which is particularly relevant.

“How things ultimately turn out isn’t up to us. It never was. But if we do out bit and play our part, it’s remarkable how far we can go” – Michel Neill

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

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