Archive | Friendship RSS feed for this section

Dealing With Office Drama: The Office Friend Conundrum

9 Oct

If you work in an office with anyone other than yourself you are likely to experience some sort of office drama at one point or another. Maybe you told a co-worker that you trusted that you went on a date only to find out that she went and blabbed your news to everyone else or maybe you say something about one co-worker that somehow gets back to that co-worker and discover that they are upset with you. Whatever it is, we all know that drama isn’t fun, especially when it’s at the office – the very place that you spend more time than you do in your own house.

In my office I have two young women that I consider to be pretty good friends. We enjoy Friday lunches together, keep each other updated on one another’s lives, and sometimes plan out-of-office get-togethers where we sip on drinks and discuss things other than work. I would say that I feel pretty comfortable telling these women a lot of things, and sometimes I find that it is hard to determine where a line exists and if there even is one.

So I will give you an example of some recent drama that I dealt with at the office. One of my office friends (Office Friend A) had an upcoming wedding and me and the other office friend (Office Friend B) were planning on attending. About a week before the wedding, Office Friend B came up and told me that she was not able to attend the reception. A few days later I was talking to Office Friend A and simply asked if she was upset or disappointed that Office Friend B gave last-minute notice that she was not attending the reception (likely after the bill for her plate had already been paid). Office Friend A brushed it off and said no, she didn’t care. I told her I was glad she wasn’t bothered and relayed a story of when my husband and I got married and how disappointed I was when people cancelled at the last-minute. Fast forward an hour when Office Friend B comes into the office and breezes past my door at lightening speed (when she usually spends the time to come in and say hello). When I tried to say hi to Office Friend B later that day I could tell she was upset with me. She is one of those people who is always happy and chipper, so when she gave me a snarly look I knew she was upset.

It was instantaneously obvious to me that Office Friend A had said something to Office Friend B about my question. I became immediate anxious and uncomfortable, so I spoke to Office Friend A to ask if she was upset with me. Come to find out she was, and yes she had said something to Office Friend B. While I feel that I did nothing wrong (yes I offended them, but it wasn’t an intention offense), I hated being in the midst of office drama and having to be around these two women who were upset with me. While I could have held my head up high sure that I did nothing wrong, I decided to suck up my pride and send both of them apology emails. In the end the drama was resolved and everything was ok.

So, what did that little fiasco teach me? First it taught me that while these girls are my friends and while I confide in them with regard to personal matters, I can’t get too personal at work. It also taught me that no matter how close you think you are to someone, drama is always possible, especially at work.

If you find yourself in a similar situation or in a completely different situation involving drama and work, here are some tips:

  • If you think that you did something to offend someone, think about apologizing and taking the blame even if you feel that you did nothing wrong. Apologies go a long way and dealing with upset co-workers isn’t worth your pride.
  • If you feel that someone at your work is gossiping about you and saying bad things that could hurt your career or reputation with higher-ups, then say something to your boss. This may be an uncomfortable conversation, but it is important that your boss know what is going on so they are prepared when someone says something negative about you.
  • If you and another co-worker just can’t seem to get alone, avoid that co-worker, and when you can’t avoid them just simply ignore them. I know plenty of people who have co-workers they despise and they simply get through the day by being as professional as possible while ignoring them and removing themselves from situations involving that person.
  • If you have to work closely with someone who has caused drama in your office, tread lightly. Don’t engage in office gossip and NEVER say anything about anyone that you don’t want to get back to them. These people always seem so sincere and interested in your opinion, but they won’t think twice about throwing you under the bus to spread a little office gossip.

All in all I have come to learn that while you can have good work friends, you can’t be as candid and open with them as you can your real friends.

Have you guys dealt with office drama? What did you do to make the situation better?

Sisterhood? No. Mean Girls? Yes: Women Disempowering Other Women

9 Feb

 Have you ever noticed the way the other women look at a successful or attractive woman when she walks into a room? The sideways glances, the whispering, the rolling of the eyes, the “who does she think she is” comments? I have, and if you are a woman reading this I am sure you have too. This type of behavior didn’t just start when women started entering the workforce, it started when they were young. Remember those girls that talked behind your back in high school when they didn’t even know you? Remember that one girl who was jealous that her ex-boyfriend dumped her for you? Remember when your college sorority hated the other sorority just because some of the girls were pretty and dated the guys the other sorority liked? Remember when you got promoted and found out that your workplace “friends” were whispering behind your back? Remember when you found out that one of your co-workers called you a “bitch” behind your back?

A while ago a friend and I were talking about the people at her new job. While telling me about this she told me about the only female Senior Executive in the company (let’s call her Stephanie). According to all of the older employees, who felt it necessary to tell my friend this, Stephanie was married to the CEO of the company. My friend went on to tell me that her new co-workers bagged on Stephanie, telling her that she was “stupid” and “incapable.” When I asked how Stephanie got the job, my friend told me that Stephanie had actually started out as the receptionist and moved here way up the chain “once she started dating the CEO,” as her co-workers told her. My first thought was “Way to go Stephanie,” but my friend (and her co-workers) seemed to have the opposite opinion. Instead of being happy that there was even a female executive or giving props to Stephanie for climbing the proverbial ladder, everyone seemed to be putting her down and thinking that she was not smart of capable of performing simply because she had started out as a receptionist. Later, my friend found out (and informed me) that Stephanie had actually received an MBA from Stanford and started working for the company part-time to pay for her tuition. Only after Stephanie finished her MBA program did she start dating the CEO. When my friend told me this she admitted that she felt stupid for having succumbed to the other employee’s immediate criticism of Stephanie, as she should!

I, myself, have been subject to similar criticism for writing this very blog. I have heard from numerous people that others were wondering why I was writing a career oriented blog when I have only been in the “real” working world for a year and a half. Last I checked not everyone with a blog is an expert in the area. Maybe, just maybe, the writer loves to write about the topic she is writing about. Maybe, just maybe, a person can do research and have an opinion of her own.

I have also heard numerous stories about young women landing pretty significant jobs, only to be bullied by other women in the company. Take, for example, a young woman fresh out of law school who lands her first legal job at a firm with only one other female attorney. The new attorney is excited that there is another woman working at the firm and believes that they will one day become close friends. However, when the new attorney is handed a big case, she finds that books and resources she needs start missing and court notices get trashed. She later discovers that the other female attorney was at fault for this.

While I knew that women could be awful to each other and have a tendency to talk behind one another’s backs (even if they are friends),  I never really took the time to understand that women have a MAJOR tendency to put other successful women down. Why is that? Doesn’t that seem to go against the very nature of Feminism and the advancement of women as a whole? Wasn’t all of the demonstrating in the early 70’s supposed to bring women together?

Gender stereotypes and the glass ceiling make it hard enough on women to succeed in the workplace, the last thing we need is other women trying to bring us down. I think that those women in the workplace who are dying to be noticed are the ones who tend to sabotage other women. It is those women who hurt the chances of other women.

So, how can we make women come together and become members of the same team? Maybe the women in your company can form a group that comes together to talk about issues facing women in the workplace. Maybe the women can have a monthly lunch outing so that they can really get to know one another. Maybe you can have a speaker come in a talk to the women about the elephant in the room, emphasizing how important it is for women to work together. There are a lot of things that one can do to try to unite the women in a company, but the question really is whether this will actually change anything. My guess is no. Women are prone to gossiping and talking about others whom they are jealous of or feel insecure around. My guess is that this female-sabatoging-female thing will continue as long as women continue to be successful. How sad is that?

If you find that you are talking about the other women in your company maybe you need to take some time to figure out why that particular woman is threatening to you. Does she have a job you want? Is she more successful than you? Discovering what it is that is making you, or those around you, talk about successful women is the only way we will end this. Take a minute and look deep into yourself and find what you can do differently to help support those successful women around you.

Can You Really Be Friends With Your Co-Workers?

1 Feb

There are a lot of people I know that claim to be “friends” with their co-workers. When I hear them talk about these “friends” I always think of them chatting these people up when they are on a coffee break, going to lunch with them when they want to get out of the office, and maybe even going for beers with them after work. While I have had some nice acquaintances that I go out to lunch with and talk to on a regular basis, I have never had a great friend at work before. I have always been a bit skeptical of getting to close, and I often wonder if people who have friends at work have “friends” or Friends?

My bet is that at least 90% of all workplace friendships are just that – workplace friendships. Having a friend at work is vastly different from having a friend that you choose to spend your Saturday nights with in a quiet restaurant (unless, of course, you are at a work function). Here is why I think having workplace friends is nearly impossible (although I do know a few people who have managed to do this):

It is Hard to be Friends With Someone You Have to Compete With

Let’s face it, we are all at work to succeed. Sure, you can be friends with your co-worker, but when it comes to climbing the ladder are you really going to take a back seat to your so-called “friend?” Would they do the same for you? My guess is no. At the end of the day business is business and most people will not let anything or anyone get in the way. Being friends with someone who you see as competition is tricky and very hard to do. When you are both at the same level you will find it easier to be “friends” than when one of you gets the promotion, the raise, or the employee of the year. As we all know, we are human and some of us are VERY competitive. So having a friend that you are essentially competing with can make things a little awkward and uncomfortable when one of you runs laps around the other one, especially if is a male/female friendship.

It is Hard to Be Friends With Someone Who Pays Your Check

I have always been an advocate of never mix business with pleasure. I have seen a lot of Friends go into business together and have seen things turn out ugly. This is because at the end of the day one of you will have more power and be more successful than the other. While a lot of people will say that they don’t mind that their friend has a better position then they do, we all know that is a lie. Not only will your friendship not be a “true” friendship if you are always worried about whether or not something you say will make that person fire you, but having to be on your “best” behavior all of the time can be exhausting.

It is Hard to Be Friends With Your Subordinates

Just as it is hard to be friends with the people who decide whether or not you will receive a raise this year, it is hard to be true “friends” with someone who has a position below you. How would your assistant feel about their “friend” piling on the work load? I am of the opinion that a relationship coming from an unequal distribution of power is never an easy one to manage.

Even if You Are Friends, The Workplace Drama Bug Will Eventually Come and Bite Your Friendship in the Ass

I bet most of you reading this have experienced a little workplace drama in your career. Whether it is a feud between the secretaries over who stole the tape, a feud between two girls who were overheard talking about one another, or a feud resulting from a long game of “telephone,” workplace drama always finds a way to creep into any “friendship” and bite it in the ass. Having to go to work and dealing with the stress of clients, your boss, and your deadlines is hard enough, adding the drama on top of it almost makes having workplace friends dreadful!

While I do think that having workplace friendships is hard, there are some people who have in fact managed to do this. My husband, for example, has a workplace friend who we consider to be a real friend. But again, while workplace friendships are possible, they may be wrought with more difficulty and problems than others, so beware!

Are you really Friends with someone at work? Have you found it difficult to maintain this friendship when one of you advances over the other?