Women At Work: Of Friends & Foes

The experience of four women at work, finding and cherishing a rare friendship that will stay over time.

Women – the only species with an infinite power to talk their way through life, often successfully, whether through persuasion, conviction, confidence, guilt, sympathy, love, concern, friendship or manipulation.

We have given the term ‘gift of gab’ a whole new meaning. It is an art, a creative skill and as much as we derive immense satisfaction when among our gender, it has an entirely different angle when women ‘bond’ at work.

Having worked in the education industry, always taking a backseat to workplace politics and such nuances, I often come across this dilemma – can colleagues really be ‘true’ friends or does the competition result in our perception of these women being clouded?

Women who express negative opinions about their colleagues are almost always perceived as insecure and bitter about their own lives. This makes her less appealing to those around who feel they might just become another victim of her verbal bashing if they get friendly.

Working in an industry which is mostly governed by women, I have always chosen to conduct myself in a strictly professional manner. Not being one who mingles at work, I came to be known as the cordial, respectful colleague whom no one really knew. And that suited me perfectly. Living a life on my own terms meant knowing whom to include in my circle of trust and whom to maintain the boundaries of professionalism with. The idea of being Facebook friends with my colleagues is unthinkable as I wish to be known for my work rather than how I choose to live my life. And inevitably there would be a judgment surrounding the same.

Among 200 employees, where my work requires me to interact with almost all of them, I would always develop a rapport with just one or two colleagues which has extended to having met outside work as well. For some of us, it takes a lot of time to meet another at work who shares similar interests and has a similar outlook on life.

Well it took me 2 years to meet my 3 friends, yes friends – not colleagues who have since then added joy, laughter, madness and wisdom to my life.

In today’s time one sees various posts and pictures, all thanks to Mark Zuckerburg, regarding where people work, their work stations, ‘selfies’ taken during lunch or drinking with colleagues post office hours. I find it quite interesting to see such posts on my news feed and feel that one’s motivation to work increases when you know you have a lunch date with your girlfriend to gossip harmlessly or make weekend plans to catch that movie you have been longing to or plan a trip together. But is it merely a means to have someone to sit with at meetings and kill time with or does it extend to sharing one’s fears and ideas and learn from each other’s lives?

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Are there downsides to friendships at work? Well of course! – Taking the form of jealousy, groupthink, formation of cliques, losing on work time due to interacting, and even broken friendships. However, these are all manageable and no doubt the benefits of positive relationships far outweigh any negative outcomes.

Researchers at UCLA identified a behavioral pattern among women called ‘tend and befriend’ which causes women to rely on social contact.  It suggests that women form a bond that lends support and protection to one another. This bond can be scientifically explained through oxytocin. This hormone, when released helps people to bond and show affection. It helps in reducing stress and relaxation for women.

I am so happy and grateful to have three such women in my life, each who adds an element which is far from amiss; where one being married and a mother brings wisdom and an understanding which one achieves at best beyond 30 and shares this knowledge willingly and effortlessly, at the same time  realizing just how social and entertaining she is and puts up one hell of a party when the mood strikes.

Another though younger is as smart as one may hope to be and is the true confidante, the one who is able to offer a sense of practicality without bordering on jealousy or one’s own agenda, ever. And lastly the one closest to me, in terms of demographics that is, who makes you realize that the world is still full of beautiful people, people who are genuinely wonderful human beings without a mean bone in their body.

I may be quite the recluse at work but instinct drew me to these women and no doubt they have been great colleagues and extremely helpful in times of professional need, but their beauty and friendship extends to truly being there for the people in their lives, not just the names and designations.

Through days spent in the summer and the winter sun, with a common love for food that binds us all, to staying with each other and talking late into the night, travelling together and dealing with each other’s quirks and enjoying each moment to the hilt, birthdays which seem to be celebrated every other month, quite strange considering we are just 4 women!

Life has definitely been beautiful thanks to these women in my life.

I know the foe part clearly doesn’t exist for me for which I am thankful, but more so that I found true friendship where I least expected. Friendships that one may rely on and cherish and fall back upon when everything else around seems to unravel. There is hope in knowing that some bonds don’t, and I know I am home when I’m among them.



About the Author

Sonali D.

Soul centric and free spirited all the while living life through travel and adrenaline junkie activities. Counselling Psychologist and Educator by vocation. And a life and laughter enthusiast by heart. Usually found daydreaming about her read more...

77 Posts | 382,985 Views

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