Reader Q & A: Friends@Work

Published: November 27, 2008 | Last Updated: November 27, 2008 By | 1 Reply Continue Reading


Dear Irene:

A friend and I are about to start different jobs at the same place of business. We’ll have different responsibilities and pay but will work on the same team so we will interact fairly often. This will not be a supervisory relationship but I’m anxious about it. I don’t want to risk losing a friend (or have difficulty) and I want to do a good job – so does she.

She has less experience on the job and I have more in the field. She’d like me to mentor her when those opportunities present themselves. I’m okay with this but it is a new experience for me off the bat. I’m not sure but my friend seems more relaxed and doesn’t understand why I am worrying about things that have not happened yet. I am moving to another state to take this new job. She lives in the state and it’s her first job in 15 years. I want to learn what I can and not worry. Do you have any tips?




Hi Stephanie:


It is always a challenge to take on a new job, but this is particularly so when it involves a move to a new location. So you are wise to think about how it will affect your friendship-since it very well may do so.

You need to explicitly (and perhaps, repeatedly) remind your friend (now colleague) that you are anxious about taking on new responsibilities and that you will try to mentor her informally behind the scenes-but as a friend rather than as a supervisor. You need to get settled in to your new role yourself first. She may not realize that even though you have more experience, your job will be new-to-you. Hopefully, this discussion will ward off her leaning on you too much and she will let you set the pace in terms of how much time and energy you have to mentor her. Because she hasn’t worked for 15 years, she may not remember the challenges of starting a new job, which can be formidable.

Having a friend who lives in a new state can be helpful to you in many ways. Those first weeks may be lonely and you may want to depend on her for certain things particularly with the holidays coming up. It sounds like your relationship can be one of give and take—as long as you both keep realistic boundaries.

Always remember that you need to put on your own life vest first before you can help others. It’s great that you are aware of the potential pitfalls because that means you are less likely to fall into them. Best wishes for a successful move and transition. Let us know how things go.


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  1. Anonymous says:


    This is such a good blog – and an honest one at that. It’s nice to hear some honest, wholesome advice.

    My problem is somewhat similar to some other people’s problems – with a small twist. Although it usually comes and goes in phases, I am currently a fairly social person and i like to socialize with people, and by people I mean all kind of people – young and old, men and women. I find that when I talk to people there is always something in common with most.

    However, I also find that I have a sort of lifelong problem being outcasted by catty groups of women. I’m not sure if everyone has similar experiences, but I feel I am particularly targeted. Sometimes I am targeted because I am not very feminine and don’t like to pay attention to much to how to dress or other superficial things to impress other girls. I dont care too much about these things and never have, and though i take care of my appearance, I dont follow trends or look too closely at what other people are currently doing. I find this is a bonding point for some women – and I’m often left out because I don’t have a sheep mentality.

    Other times, I really feel like I’ve done nothing to provoke it but groups of women who I thought I had things in common with will become allies and make me an outcast. This happened for example, at a former workplace of mine, where two women became close friends and even though I thought I was included at first, both of them actively ignored me after a while. I was hurt because i had considered both of them my friends, and then I came to find out that neither of them thought much of me. In particular, it also seemed like they felt they were above me – and that they were purposefully excluding me – not just excluding me because we had little in common or other less hurtful reasons.

    Note that I can make friends just fine with single women, my problem is when they come together in groups. I really find myself threatened by groups of women and as an adult I am still intimidated and am now getting to a piont where I have too many male friends and few single female friends. I dont want to be resistant to female friendships – but at this point I’ve already had several experiences, of women who I thought were my friends choosing to dump me.

    As I said I am very social and can find other friends, more easily than these women that seem to have such an urgent desire to rise to the top while dumping on others. I think it is possible to have close friends, and at the same time be inclusive with others. And I feel hurt when the female friends I do have consider me a disposable resource, especially since it’s a bit of a recurring theme for me. What can I do to make myself less of a target in these situations?

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