I just told a reporter that I might still have a job in human resources if I had friends at work.
That feels true, on the surface, because I always had more enemies than buddies. Work was a hassle, and nobody liked me. I came back from getting married, and only one person congratulated me. I looked around and thought, my god, these women are monsters!
I know two things to be true now that I’m a little older and calmer.
- Nobody wants to befriend a toxic whiner who hates her job.
- Nobody wants a needy friend. Trying harder to be “likeable” only made it worse.
I also know that, while I bring the party with me, sometimes people aren’t interested in my party. That’s okay. Not everyone has to like me.
I also realize that I am unnecessarily demanding of my colleagues, even when it’s not my place to demand anything from them. I have a sixteen-page agenda for my day with scheduled bathroom breaks and time to check my text messages, but some people want to come to work and talk about The Goldbergs. Who am I to get in the way of small talk?
I also know that friendships made at work aren’t always the healthiest relationships. The guy who sits as a proxy for your husband who doesn’t listen to you? That guy brings a whole host of issues to the table, and if you scratch the surface, you’ll realize that a quid-pro-quo relationship isn’t very smart.
So now I’m not sure if a meaningful relationship at work would have made an impact on my career. But one thing is certain: I thank Baby Jesus and Ganesh that I no longer have day-to-day responsibilities in human resources. I have more friends, and I am much happier.
I do think that staying at a job so long that you run out of the friends you once had at work can ultimately do you in. As you said, it’s probably more you than them, but the effect is the same.
It is nice to have friends at work. Maybe it helps one to identify better with the organization. Unfortunately, having friends at work in HR is difficult. One must be careful to avoid any appearance of favoritism. Not to mention that HR is not exactly the favorite group in any organization. HR is a lonely field. But you are right- if we had more/any friends at work, more of us might survive the profession relatively unscathed.