Friends at Work – Lessons from an Introvert

I am not sure if this might be applicable for everyone. This will definitely be applicable to introverts though. We tend to have few friends – maybe even as less as 1 or 2, but they are the ones who have our back always and we have theirs too.

Again, we do not classify acquaintances as friends. We have our well defined criteria normally and people who do not satisfy most of those criteria simply do not qualify for the post. So I have had at least a few people at work trying to force fit themselves into my criteria, to mostly garner benefits. Be wary of such elements, you never know what plans they might have up their sleeve.

The problem with introverts is that when someone tries too hard to make friends, they find it difficult to ward them off, simply because they imagine that that someone will get hurt, offended, etc. Believe me the kind of people who I will be referring to here, will not even care about such feelings. That is the kind of metal they are made off. In some cases you simply cannot ward them off though. Will talk about one such case too.

Case 1 – The one that can be avoided

So, a few years back there was this guy in my team who made me believe that he is the best friend I could have ever had. He used me to play his filthy office politics, to get his work done perfectly. He was incapable of thinking, he only knew how to act and by act, I mean act, literally act! He was so sweet and seemingly genuine that I ended up finishing his half-baked stuff, doing his certifications and backing up for him at work and finally realized that he had been using me all the while to get his promotion and get ahead of me. Is that not funny? What is more funny is the fact that I could not even sense what was coming. You do not expect a good friend to behave or even think half as much as he did. My usual friends use their thinking powers to do stuff that is generally beneficial to everyone, and normally intend to cause no harm to anyone.

So it happened that I did not have any more friends at work until I met my husband – which turned out to be a blessing though. He came in as an acquaintance, became a close acquaintance, then a friend, then a great friend, soulmate and finally husband. He is not a colleague anymore, but that is one relationship that has gotten stronger with time, like fine wine.

Case 2 – The one that cannot be avoided. For instance, your boss.

Life kept happening. We forget, forgive, move on, have fun, get fooled again. Yes, we do. So I was back to work after an episode of post partum depression and totally into this new phase of life. Here came a new acquaintance. She is not my kind, I know it as soon as I saw her, but she did not leave me alone. She said that she needed company to go to the nearby store, to walk to another building. She shared a lot about herself during the walks and extracted a lot of information about me. She had tears in her eyes every time she said that she missed me after a long weekend. At times I felt like a leech was sucking at my blood and refusing to let go. I remember discussing this with my mom and she was rolling on the floor laughing. This new acquaintance started taking so much liberty, all so soon and even tried real hard to come home and make the relationship stronger. Well I brought her home, but made excuses every time she called me to her place, because I was just not comfortable around her. Only I knew the kind of stress I went through when I had to put up with her at office, why would I want to prolong the pain by going to her place and spending my valuable weekend with her?

She kept trying. With time I started loosening down and she probably became a close acquaintance. She kept telling me how easily she could connect with me, how everyone in our office thought we were friends since school and all that shit. I even told my therapist that I think I have a friend at work now, someone that I can talk to openly. Really, I was getting to start convinced too. She would call me to her desk to get help with her deliverables. Every hour at work, she either had to talk, vent or extract help. Basically she kept bothering me so much that I felt like working from home even before the pandemic had approached. Even if I tried to concentrate on my work, she would keep talking or come over to my desk for full attention. Yes, she was sitting next to me and that made things really easy for her. She made me feel that though she was my manager I was her mentor in many ways and she would pay me back for it, which she did and it was a big helluva surprise. I kept helping her assuming that since she is my manager she would consider that while appraising me. But hell no! Here came the pandemic and everyone went to work from home. This specimen who had tears from not seeing me during weekends stopped texting, calling or even checking if I am still alive. No more informal requests to help, because of course, I could not have walked over to her house to help her. And then came our ratings and I realized what she was up to all that while. Another typical specimen usually found in office settings – the one who befriends you to garner benefits, and nothing more. I think I have learnt my lesson now. I am hoping that I will not have to go back to office ever and end up in such fake friendships ever again.

Such people just leave you toxic at the end and the toxins take some time to get flushed out. Please beware of people at work who are too keen on making quick friends with you. They are almost like those flash sales that entice you to act quick or lose out on many a things. They need quick response and you know they should not be trusted. So if somebody is trying too hard to make friends with you and you know in your head that you do not need this friend, be bold to walk away. I had to take the help of a pandemic to walk away. But you do not really need to wait for a pandemic or natural calamity to happen. Say it to them on their face – back off my dear, I am not your kind!

Well, that does not mean that you should not make friends at work. Take your time, analyze, take a year or two maybe. Understand very well what you are getting yourself into and then take the plunge. True friends can wait and they last long enough. Again, this is from an introvert’s perspective, may not to applicable to everyone. Good riddance to bad rubbish and ring in good vibes. 🙂

Published by

Pooja Subramanian

Author of the book "Twigs Entwined"

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