Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

Service of Some of My Best Friends Have Been Office Friends

Monday, January 7th, 2019


I’ve often told the story of an office friend at my first job after college who called in sick for a week and returned to the office with a nice tan. She’d spent seven days in Florida. We worked in NYC and it was winter. I knew her plan and was relieved that the boss didn’t ask me anything about her absence or state of health. I’d never have the nerve to pull such a ruse then or now and wouldn’t have been thrilled to have to cover for her. We were close enough that we attended our respective weddings.

Melissa Dahl wrote “Why Work Friendships Can Be So Awkward” pointing first to a set of ex friends. Why?  One felt betrayed when the other voted against his proposal in a meeting. Another example: friends tired of fixing the mistakes of a pal who is terrible at his/her job.


In her New York Times article Dahl quoted Rutgers associate professor of human resource management Jessica Methot, PhD, who said: “You’re co-workers first and friends second.”

Dr. Methot observed that office friends “don’t address problems they have with each other.” She found “One of the problems we see is that people who become closer with each other don’t actually communicate well. We see this with spouses really frequently—they expect the other person to read their mind and we see a watered down version of that in friendships. ‘You already know this about me, do we really need to talk about it?’”

Did any of your office friendships last after you changed jobs? Have you succeeded most easily in the workplace when you made no office friendships? Were you ever placed in an awkward spot involving an office friend? How did that impact the relationship?




Service of Office Friends: Who Is Invited to Special Occasions?

Saturday, April 28th, 2018


I met some of my oldest friends at or through work. And while the article that inspired this post focused on weddings, there are many special occasions—50th birthday parties, 25th wedding anniversaries, a child’s momentous event–that might create the same dilemma: which office friends to invite when faced with constraints of a budgetary nature or of space?

The title of Sue Shellenbarger’s Wall Street Journal story “The Dreaded Wedding Decision: Which Co-Workers to Invite?” covers a lot. You spend more time on the job, shoulder to shoulder with colleagues, more than with most family and friends. It’s natural to share event plans and glitches or address family kerfuffles with these folks as you munch lunch. But who gets cut from the list: Cousin Frank and his nasty wife–which will cause a rift with your aunt and uncle and create stress for your parents–or Frieda and Fred in accounting?


According to Shellenbarger, the reaction of one groom with 18 office friends and space for only three: “Just because you’re really cool with and close to a friend at work doesn’t mean you’re going to be cool and close in your personal life.” When a bride’s work friend told her she couldn’t wait to attend her wedding, she said: “I’m really sorry, but we have kind of a strict guest list. I hope there are no hard feelings.” There weren’t.

One bride in her story opted for fewer flowers and a less expensive dress so she could invite all 15 of her co-workers. A wedding expert shared the obvious point that you should invite the entire group if you’re inviting most of a small team of co-workers. As for inviting the boss, another expert suggested to think twice if she/he is buttoned up and your family is wild and loves to party.


“Couples agonize over which co-workers to include and how to cushion the hurt among those they leave out. Balancing your needs without damaging important relationships requires nuance.”

One couple who worked in different departments at the same airport invited 30 guests and kept mum about their wedding. When they returned to work the bride was bombarded by co-workers with questions as to why they weren’t invited. To smooth things out she promised to invite to a housewarming party one person who would no longer speak with her.

Shellenbarger reported on a survey by The Knot of 13,000 couples which showed that guest lists shrank last year by 13 people to 136, as couples are increasingly passing on spacious banquet halls in favor of smaller venues like historic mansions or barns.

Social media postings spill the beans at work even if you don’t: Shellenbarger reported that nine out of 10 couples post engagement pictures.

Have you been in this situation or observed others who were? What is the best way to handle the stomach-wrenching dilemma if you can’t, or don’t want to, invite the entire office gang? Do you have other issues to consider if you are a manager?


Service of What is Good Company?

Thursday, October 11th, 2012


A book Kathleen Fredrick is reading, “TIME TO BE IN EARNEST: A Fragment of Autobiography,” by P.D.James, inspired this topic, a crucial one indeed.

chattingFredrick, a writer and retired editor, was interested by this excerpt: “James says that the Conversatione** was an enjoyable and welcome experience and: ‘I was reminded of the conversation between Mr. Elliott and his cousin Anne Elliott in PERSUASION: “My idea of good company, Mr. Elliott, is the company of clever and informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.’ ‘You are mistaken,’ he said gently. ‘That is not good company, that is the best.'”

[James had attended a ** Conversatione on Culture and Society that gathered 80+ representatives. The three-day event included people from church, finance, the arts, academia and journalism.]

familydinnerHere’s what I think: I am blessed by family and friends who are articulate and opinionated and make for great company because they freely share their thoughts. Sometimes I can’t wait to hear what they think! Conversation is never dull.

I like visiting businesses–restaurants, stores, doctor’s offices–where staff at least appears to be interested in my company.

It takes effort and energy to be good company. My parents had a neighbor who would say “Give a good time,” when, as a kid, I was going out with friends [she didn’t mean what you may think]. Our family had an old friend whom my great aunt criticized because she didn’t add to the conversation-didn’t share-though she might ask an occasional question.

strollingcraftfairI’ve become increasingly good company to myself which wasn’t always the case. There are things I love to do alone such as visiting a craft fair. I go at my pace, don’t have to waste time exploring a booth of no interest to be polite to a companion and don’t have to cringe when my friend or family member expresses negative comments at high decibels about someone’s work or prices while standing next to them.

However I prefer going to a movie, concert or play with someone so that I can discuss it afterwards. If I’m alone at a hotel I put on the TV for company. At home, I add the radio, especially in the morning or if I can’t sleep at night. And I like to work in a place with others around me.

Whom or what do you consider good company?


Service of Splitting the Check

Thursday, July 5th, 2012


A friend’s story has happened to me in a variety of ways, countless times. This is what she wrote: “We had breakfast on Sunday with my friend Tad” [I’ve changed his name]. “The bill was for $60 for 4 of us and he put down 15 bucks and continued talking.

“His part cost $20 before the tip.” [The fourth person was a young child.]

creditcardatrestaurant“After a while, I took out my credit card because I wanted to leave. I thought it was odd that he’d look at the bill and throw down a $10 and $5-er and not follow up with so much as a, ‘was that enough?’  It obviously wouldn’t be worth mentioning, ‘I think we need another $15,’ but seriously???” 

teaShe continued, “This has happened to me before with another friend after we shared a traditional tea with her and her daughters. She put down the bare minimum and I found it awkward to announce, ‘Actually you need to put in more…,’ so I didn’t.”

Back to me: I may order an appetizer and an ice tea for lunch, because I’m not hungry and rarely have a yen for wine midday. Once the bill is evenly divided, I’m asked for $50.

The obvious solution is to say, “You owe $7 or more,” or, “For an $8 appetizer and $4 tea, tax and tip, here’s $20,” but there are times it doesn’t feel right to do that. What do you do or suggest in these instances?


Service of Hugs

Friday, November 25th, 2011


I was crossing the street on Park Avenue and 72nd  in Manhattan when I heard persistent honking. Next thing, a very tall driver leapt out of his blue van, marked “Hamilton Air,” that was stopped for the light. He ran toward an elderly man who was also crossing the street. The driver wrapped his friend in his arms giving the diminutive old fellow a giant hug: Smiles all around.

hugs31As he walked his friend to the other side of the street, a woman who also observed the scene smiled at me and said, “We need more hugging in the world.” The driver ran back to his van in time to catch the green light and nobody honked in all this time. For NYC: Remarkable.

The very same day I was walking east on 43rd Street when I heard a man making soothing sounds so I looked to see why. In his arms was a beautiful black cat. The man was cooing, chatting with and hugging the creature and both seemed happy and content, making me feel cheerful in turn.

Don’t you think that hugs are curative?


Service of Friendship

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

friendshipWe’ve written before about whistle blowers. In our society they are never rewarded.

The most recent example is the Penn State assistant football coach, Mike McQuery, who was placed in protective custody and on administrative leave last weekend because of his role in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation mess.

whistleblower2While thousands are angry at McQuery because his seemed to be the first pin in the nasty bubble that spilled filth over the school and their beloved coach Joe Paterno–his boss–some accuse him of not blowing his whistle loud enough. He didn’t follow up with the police after nothing happened once he reported a horrific assault on a 10 year old boy in the school’s showers. He said that he did and the police say he didn’t. Nor did he rush in to stop it–though again, he wrote a friend that he had.

No matter what he did or didn’t do, he was in trouble.

penn-state-football2But the subject of this post is friendship. Paterno was known for running one of the most reputable teams in college football–the Penn State players actually go to class and are not given professional-level goodies like cars, cash and prostitutes.

Yet he protected Sandusky, his longtime associate and friend, by restricting his report to going to his superior and when nothing happened, he didn’t initiate or demand an investigation nor did he report the incident to the police.

I don’t know if Paterno had good intentions: To protect his friend and longtime associate. Or like the school’s president, did he have in mind the university’s image and/or jeopardizing the team’s income generating future? Or did he question the source of the allegation?

He did seem to do one thing: Forget the innocent victims.

How far would you go to protect a friend? Would you continue to consider a friend a person who allegedly assaulted little children? Would you tell them what you’d heard?  dogprotectcat

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