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A subjective perspective of interaction and intimation with the people around you differentiates a friend from a client. The former being much beneficial.


You remember the time when you used to share a single lollipop with your grade school best friend? If you do, it’s practically a memory worth disposing of.

It’s highly unsanitary even though it’s highly engaging for children.

It’s masked as an unselfish act towards another human being – neglecting external variables and give focus on the act. These are often times tagged as selfless because it’s looked on to with blind eyes even though, at times, the child who received the treat would just have the lollipop all to himself.

READ: What Makes A Friend Worthy Of The Name

Friendship is an intimate relationship and not a personal charity.

In the same sense, misguided by lack of contrasted concept between colleagues and friends at work, people tend to prematurely trust their teammates or workmates.

Forming an analogy, let’s incorporate trust as the lollipop and the children are businessmen making deals with one another.

It’s highly unlikely for businessmen to see their recent or new clients as friends since platonic relationships keep the functional benefits and possible risks at bay – one side is not giving too much or too less. This simply means trust is not completely given by both sides.

On the other hand, other businessmen tend to keep their friendly relationships to longtime clients who have surpassed the business/platonic relationships through countless deficits or financial/economical dilemmas. This, as the opposite, means trust is established through time and trials.


As for workplace relationships, it works the same like a set of students in a classroom all meeting for the first time.

There will be shuffling and random pairing/gathering of elements in a given time frame until the pandemonium settles down and the elements may have found the people they like hanging out with.

READ: Workplace Friendships: Asset or Liability?

This is also like how a chemical reaction works: an element/molecule will have attained great entropy until it has paired/bonded with its reactive partner.

But the variables in the workplace aren’t as simple as chemical reactions or random permutations because these variables are complex human beings and the catalyst for their interaction is the ever-shuffling of teams, offices, seats, etc.

People interact with their colleagues in the office and most of the time they think it’s automatically friendship.

READ: Work Friends vs. Real Friends (Ask yourself questions included)

There’s a definitive border between a work colleague and a friend though people most often times cannot distinguish due to a lot of reasons.

A friend, though pop culture might have mixed and objective descriptions, is someone worth the trust which will last through time.

It does not, however, restrict into one circumstance being definite.

A workplace mate may have been your friend and happens to be in the same company.

A friend may have been your work place mate who, after quitting from the same company, still keeps in touch and lends his time on weekends for a jolly mug of butterbeer.

Then again, friendship is as complicated as an intimate relationship.


What seems to be a thin lining between friends and colleagues is often blurry and other times overlap. But it’s just that: seems to be.

Re-evaluating the situation can definitely resolve the blur; increase the division – highly differentiated.

Daily interaction does not equate to friendship. It’s one of the many things that are needed to be crossed out before concluding a trust-based relationship.

Although, in this piece, the “colleague” might have been antagonistic, it certainly is not. The point is focused on trust as it redefines an acquaintance into a friend.

It is also noteworthy that a generous person can often cause more damage and be his own antagonist when he offers his trust to his acquaintances but the recipients do not respond the same way.

Rejection can be quite depressing.

Learning how to differentiate a friend from a simple colleague can be beneficial to a person’s career and to his psychological well-being.

You choose your friends and so as your irrelevant acquaintances.

The line isn’t that thin after all.

Do you have friends in the office? If so, how sure are you that they’re really worth the name? Comment your thoughts down below. 🙂

33 thoughts on “A Long Read: The Thin Line Between Colleagues And Friends At Work [Essay]”

  1. Learned a lot from this post, Totes! A colleague is often misinterpreted as a friend, when in reality, when you both separate ways (like what you said, after quitting the same company), he/she might not keep in touch any longer and finds a new set of “friends” in another company. This also applies to school. I have a bunch of “friends” during my college days but I can only count a few who actually kept in touch. “Daily interaction does not equate to friendship”, this is super true. We are often blinded by regular interaction and that it automatically results to friendship. We should learn to evaluate our “true friends” in the workplace we’re in to avoid the feeling of disappointment or even sadness when we learn that these people who we call “friends” were mainly just “colleagues”. Friends also break hearts, you know! Haha! Great post Totes!

    1. Thanks Kath! It’s really nice to hear you’ve had similar experiences as I. I learned it the hard way and now I know how to distinguish colleagues and friends quite in a cold-hearted manner. Hahaha

  2. oh my god. i just had a conversation with a friend who happened to be someone who considers every one her ‘friends’. and when they suddenly disappear from her life, she gets all emotional, etc. Ugh! Ihatag nya ko ni nga blog post niya hahah.

  3. I’ve worked in an office with a pretty toxic environment for 7 long years. I knew I found 3 friends in the same team that I really consider trusted friends until now. I think I just knew that they weren’t just colleagues because my work life was less toxic and more enjoyable with them around. When they resigned, I didn’t feel the same kind of happy environment anymore. I resigned a few months after they did. 🙂

  4. I have a long list of colleagues as I’m giving them a chance while shaping them to become a good and close friend of mine. I don’t shut the door, I welcome everyone in my life as my way of giving a chance to surely show who they are, either in the office or outside the office. In my case, my office mates are becoming my close ally, maybe because we always identify responsibilities and friendship. We worked under the same roof, we usually exchange smiles and benedictions, but when the task gets hard, we always make sure we help each other. I have also some office mates who have resigned and they are still communicating with us even they are already linked up with the other company.

    1. That’s why having close allies is good while working. Although I may have antagonized colleagues in this essay, having a sound relationship with them is beneficial for work. 🙂

  5. Sinong best friend mo doon? Well, your generation can use the word friends loosely because of social media apps that allow us to offer friendship request to strangers. The lollipop has become more common and easy to give. I always expect some kind relationship “degradation” when you or workmate move on from your company. The good thing is that nobody is irreplaceable. 😉

    1. I don’t have a best friend yet but I have 2 friends from a fair amount of work colleagues. I’m quite sure they can stick up to the name because I’ve been there for them and they’ve been there for me. 🙂

  6. I have this kind of weird mind rule about distinguishing if someone truly is my friend. I say to myself “Would I be comfortable with borrowing money from this person?” Not that I’m the type of person who always borrows money from other people, haha, but I’ve found that it’s a good tell of whether or not I’m generally comfortable being with that person.

    1. Borrowing money or lending money to a friend without the need for urgent return is one of mine, too. It’s one of the many, I suppose.

  7. I think that the best person who can judge if someone is worthy to be your friend is yourself. If you feel in your heart that after getting to know the person kay you don’t wanna be his friend then don’t. Don’t push it lang jud.

  8. It is really frustrating sometimes that we often ignore the fine line between friends and colleagues. I agree that there is a big difference between the two.
    I for one wouldn’t just let anyone in but there are times that no matter how short the time you met the person you just click with each other immediately. That’s the crazy thing about friendship, it doesn’t mean that you talk a lot and you interact a lot you’re already friends. But at times, you will meet someone and say to yourself, I like this person and you just do crazy stuffs with them. Not only doing crazy stuffs but I can only consider them as a friend if I am really comfortable being around them.

    I have this crazy test also that I ask myself, ” can I talk to this person for hours comfortably and if I’m comfortable lending or borrowing anything from them or them from me?” Can I ask this person out for an impromptu dinner or a bottle of beer on weekends? Can I ask this person a favor to do something for me and Versa? Am I comfortable telling this person my whereabouts (though not all the time)?
    A colleague will likely ask why are you absent after taking a leave but a friend will ask how are you doing after being away for a day or two. A colleague will ask what will you do where you are going but a friend will say enjoy and take care!
    But honestly, a colleague is still a colleague. Beyond the office walls, they can be just like random people or acquaintances! No special bond!

  9. In the same way that our friends have different levels of closeness to us. There are some friends we can ask for certain favors or tell certain stories while there are others that we can share things only up to a certain point. Maybe because it also depends on their personalities. Hahaha!

    But you know what….let’s not overthink things nalang. Hahahaha 😛

  10. With the type of work that I have now, people come and go. I don’t understand this at first bit I get the idea. To several teams that Ive been with, I was able to establish a friendship for a few people. People I always consider friends even if we were already working on different companies. This read totally made sense in a way that you may not get a lasting friendship with every colleague although you can always keep a professional environment. 🙂

  11. Pressure lagi ning friend sa office da. Sige, I’ll make more friends sa office which by the way kay 4 ra mi sa team and medyo mauwaw ko nila. Huhu. But will do my best to be a good friend than just a workmate! 😀

  12. I have a so called circle of friends and that is my own version of differentiating my friends from colleagues and acquaintance. 🙂 And every now and then, I update my circle friends on whom will be in my outer circle, middle circle and inner circle.

  13. I think you can see it more between colleagues and friends in the office is that you deal colleagues professionally, interact for business, while friends, you talk more, share experiences personal and professional.

    This is such a good read totem!

  14. This post is really deep Master Totem. I have noted things from your post. Reading is really practical and witty. You should indeed a HOW TO BE A NERD GURU. 🙂 Another good read from Master Totem the Engineer.

  15. You are speaking in behalf of the tiny part of my brain which has this kind of logic. Haha everytime na magtanag ko, makathink ko sometimes kung kinsa ang people that I think I’ll be friends with in 10 years time, or who’ll just be people I used to take classes with. Somehow few ra gyud ako ma think na who’ll be with me through thick and thin. Thanks for this post Totem. 😊

  16. I am not very friendly in my previous job since I really don’t like the job and also the environment. There are some people in my previous job that I still talked and chatted sometimes. I did not make many friends there in my previous company since I know that I will leave that company in which I did.! I don’t like to have many friends there because I really hate GOODBYES in which I get emotional when I leave you all there..

    Now, that I am here in this new company. I am trying to adjust and make new Friends here and create new memories to cherish in my life

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