Forging Friendships in the Workplace – Boon or Bane?

Written by

Wednesday, 27 April 2016 - Last Updated on September 22, 2016
officemates the movie BFF: Best Friends Forever raked in 102 million pesos in the box office, forging friendships in the workplace could prove to be a flop. Consider these drama excerpts.


BOSS: Alam ko naman, noon mo pa pinapangarap ang inuupan kong ito. (I know that you have been coveting my seat ever since).

STAFF: Kung pinag-interesan ko ang upuang mo, ni hindi dadampi ang pwet mo riyan. Umpisa pa lang, sa akin na ipinangako ni boss iyan bago pa man siya umalis pero dahil sa respeto ko sa iyo bilang kaibigan, pinagbigyan kita. (If I was really interested in your seat, your butt won’t even touch it. In the first place, that position was offered to me first even before boss left but I asked him to give it to you out of my respect for you.)


MALE EMPLOYEE 1: Pare, makisama ka naman. Ang daming ginagawa rito. Di ka man lang tumulong. (Bro, why don’t you help out. There’s so much to do. You are not even lifting a finger.)

MALE EMPLOYEE 2: Kung gusto mo palitan na lang tayo ng kandila at magkallimutan na minsan naging magkaibigan tayo. (If you want, we could just give back the candles and forget we were once friends.)

Note: In the Filipino context, giving back candles refers to the candles lighted as godparents to a friend’s child. This is a figure of speech meant to disregard any relations forged in the past.


BARKADA 1: Pag-usapan ninyo yan. Di naman yatang magandang masira ang matagal niyong pagkakaibigan dahil lang sa trabaho. (Why don’t you talk about it? It is not right that your long friendship will go sour just because of work.)

BARKADA 2: Wala kasi siyang respeto sa oras. Lagi na lang siyang late. Alam naman niyang maraming gagawin para sa project. (She just doesn’t have any respect for time. She is always late. She knows there is so much to do for this project.)

BARKADA 1: Tanggapin mo na lang,  ganoon na talaga siya eh. (Just accept the way she is.)

BARKADA 2: Ganoon na lang iyon? (Just like that?)

The problem with close friendship in the office is the very sticky situations one can find himself in. With personal relations in the way, the gray area sets in where the personal zone gets indistinguishable with the professional area.

In the first scenario, Nimfa gave way for the promotion of Aubrey despite their boss’ offer considering that she is the most qualified candidate to replace him. Although Aubrey was the more senior in terms of years of service, Nimfa met the educational standards with her masteral degree and the experience to wit. But Pinoys can really forget about competitiveness in the name of friendship.

Deep down this may breed resentment with the likes of Nimfa for losing the opportunity to get a rung higher up the promotional ladder. The likes of Aubrey, on the other hands, will always be hounded by the fact that she got the post out of sympathy and not really because of her capabilities.

Friendship has gone sour between the two when subordinates realized Aubrey cannot meet their expectations and their respect and loyalty shifted to Nimfa who does all the troubleshooting for Aubrey.

Scenarios 2 and 3, on the other hand, are the classic examples of familiarity breeding contempt.
There is always the danger of amigos getting too comfortable with each other to the point that it is carried unhealthily into the workplace. One gets lax with his tasks and the other takes responsibility for the former’s lapses. The other cannot snap out of her habitual tardiness and she expects her chum to accept her as she is. In the meantime, the other takes the brunt of covering for her friend.

It is not all that bad investing in friendships in the office. There are always the perks. You always have someone to watch your back, to remind you to shape up or ship out, to support you in times of stressful situations, to defend you when misunderstood by the boss and peers.

As social beings, forging friendships is a natural occurrence in any given condition but it helps to be extra discerning. Just like in the animal realm, the work ecosystem relationships can vary from oppositional to symbiotic.

Beware of the parasites, those who play weaklings and helplessly cling to the stronger kind to survive the struggles in office. These are the types who make use of emotional blackmails in their desperate attempts to suck the blood out of their hosts.

Does this sound familiar? “Ikaw na lang kumausap kay boss, mas matapang ka naman. Baka kasi sigawan ako pag ako nagtanong bakit kulang overtime pay ko. (Talk to the boss for me. You are the braver type anyway. He might raise his voice with me when I ask why my overtime pay is not enough.”

The emotional vamps do not have second thoughts in pushing their so-called friends in the line of fire just to save their skin.

There are also the predators who lurk around groups sniffing for potential prey. The unknowing victim does not realize she is being assessed up close by the wolf in sheepskin and would not waste time in discrediting her especially if they are up for competition.

They cunningly set up traps to expose the weakness of the perceived competitor to grab any opportunity for growth or promotion. “Ako na po gagawa niyan… Alam niyo naman mahina dumiskarte ang kaibigan kong iyan. Kilala ko na iyan eh. (Let me do that. You know how she can be weak in that area. I know her that well.”

Woe to the sacrificial lambs who innocently bite the bait because they are too trusting.

Glory to those who find the real treasure in mutualism. They are the good souls who meet, go through good times and bad. They know the symbiosis of give and take.

What could be tricky in this kind of relationship is defining where the personal sphere ends and the professional scope starts. Pinoys are naturally forgiving of their friends’ weaknesses to the point of making up for them when things go awry.

It helps to learn how to be frank enough to correct mistakes and push each other up to realize their full potential. If this happens, real friends will celebrate the victory of the other’s promotion and good tidings and commiserate in downtimes.

After all… that’s what friends are for.


Photos from Pixabay. Public domain.



Jasmine Barrios (56 Posts)

Write a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>