While at my children’s bus stop a few weeks ago, I was speaking with another dad as we waited for our kids to arrive home from school. As he and I often do, we discussed work and how we both made company changes within the past 12 months and how the new companies and company cultures have really reenergized us. He was with his prior company for, if memory serves correctly, 21 years and I was with mine for just about 8 years (but the overall experience is the same for my prior 3 companies as well).
The one theme was eerily similar between the two of us… even after spending many years together with coworkers and colleagues all while celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and professional milestones, how many of those people do you keep in touch with and how many keep in touch with you?
This topic of work friendships and, just how easily and quickly, what we viewed as a friendship is certainly not that in reality. Maybe it’s a professional courtesy, maybe it’s a professional mirage, but whatever the case may be the reality is that those relationships may evaporate rather quickly. Some of the reasons I thought as to why included:
- Are they resentful I left?
- Did they use me/did I use them?
- Were we ever really friends?
I have been fortunate enough to keep in touch with a some amazing people over the years, and some I am very lucky enough to continue to call friends. However, the vast majority of those I worked with I have lost contact with along the way, some immediately upon either their or my departure.
This friendly bus stop conversation was nothing more than casual banter but it was an eye opening topic and one that, even a couple of weeks later, I have continued to think about. Some work friendships are golden and will stand the test of time. Some will end the minute either of you walk out the door.
Value what you have while you have it, they may all just become another LinkedIn connection in the end.