A Friend. A Colleague.

How can you tell if your work colleague is now your friend? What line did they cross to qualify themselves as a friend in the workplace? Is it accurate to say that a colleague is automatically a friend when you have lunch together? Or there are more gestures to it? Like having to share details about your personal life, to only then be considered a friend as opposed to a colleague? If I add you as a friend on Facebook, surely that means we are, NO?

To be honest, I don’t have a precise answer. Perhaps it is meant to be rhetoric?

I am thinking about this Friend Vs Colleague question because I had a pitfall in communication with a friend at work today. I have always thought that if you consider someone as your friend, your choice of words and tone would be a bit different during a conversation compared to when it is with a colleague. The topic of discussion would also be more chummy and less formal since we’re friends. Thus, when it comes to correcting a mistake and all, I feel there is a different approach when you need to reprimand a friend as opposed to just another work colleague.

A lady came to the clinic for a health documentation issue. It was a matter which could, in my opinion, be resolved on the same day. However, this friend who happened to see that lady decided that it should be addressed on a different date. My enquiry to his plan resulted in a few exchanges that ended with a statement by him that took me aback. Simply because it wasn’t something that I would expect a friend would say to another. Honestly, I felt a bit hurt. Hati tisu, tengah menses some more. Tengok kucing sembelit pun boleh nangis. Hahaha.

After the statement, I could sense a change in the atmosphere of the room. We would usually have small chats in between patients but this morning it just felt awkward. We were still talking to each other but it was minimal and superficial. I think we both tried to pretend that everything is OK. That I was not offended with his statement. I convinced myself that him saying that, was just him being himself (which is kinda true.. don’t we all accept the true colours of our friends – be it good or bad?) I persuaded myself to think that perhaps he was having a bad day and this lady was just the final straw that made him tick.

But it also made me think if through his eyes, whether I was a Friend or just a Colleague to him? Cause to me, he is a friend and there is a possibility that this friendship I’m offering to him was never actually reciprocated in the first place.