Co-workers... Are they really your friends?

Loose Lips Sink Ships!

Over the weekend, while browsing through Youtube to find a video that would peak my interest, I came across one that actually 'hit home', so to speak. The video titled, 'Your co-workers are not your friends', was posted just 5 months ago by user A Life After Layoff who has over 213,000 subscribers. In this short period of time, the video has garnered an impressive 1.1 million views.

Many who've been in the workforce for some time know it's not easy to work with people you don't really know outside the workplace. Sometimes, it's just a small group of individuals, sometimes it can be dozens but in most environments, especially in manufacturing, that group can mushroom into hundreds of people we work with.

We all need employment. I've had several jobs and worked for a dozen employers over the years. Practically everywhere I've worked, the management would often refer to the employees as family and to address each other as brothers and sisters. Unions are famous for addressing their members like that. I suppose it's OK but the truth of the matter is, just like the title of the video suggests, your co-workers are not your friends. They are co-workers that you work with 8 hours a day and then you go home to your real family and friends.

The narrator of the video explains that he took on a new HR assignment for a company in a new town where he didn't know anyone. Over some time, he became friendly with an employee on the floor who seemed nice and respectful. He was asked how he liked his new surroundings and replied that he liked it but because he didn't know anyone, he felt a little bored and lonely. His new 'friend' then invited him to tag along on Saturday night and have a few beers at a local bar where this 'friend' would be joining up with his friends.

The narrator said he saw nothing out of the ordinary and thought it would be a great opportunity to make new friends outside the workplace. After a couple of drinks, his 'friend' casually asked, 'what do you think of so and so', a supervisor who was working his way up the ladder and had just started a new role. In so many words, he replied by saying the guy was new at the job and it takes time to get into the swing of things and get past the learning curve. The subject then changed and the rest of the night was enjoyable.

Come Monday morning though, he was immediately called into the office by his manager who said that someone complained that 'you said this and that about so and so'. In an instant, he figured out what had happened. He realized he'd been set up by this supposed 'friend' and that he'd been 'stabbed in the back'. He explained to his boss what happened and what he actually said, which was appropriate and apologized to the new supervisor as there was really no wrongdoing.

As for that 'friend', he stayed clear of him from then on and saw it as a valuable lesson, hence the title of his video, 'Your co-workers are not your friends'. He reminds viewers to be careful what you say to your co-workers. They may seem nice and friendly and often times they generally are but unfortunately, far too many are not trustworthy at all and sometimes can be quite dangerous.

You know the old saying, 'Loose Lips Sink Ships!' It's very prudent to be mindful of what you say to your co-workers about yourself and your personal life and to be especially mindful of what you might say about other co-workers because there will always be one in the crowd that's eagerly ready to throw you under the bus and run straight to management to complain so it's a good idea to avoid gossip and not hang out with a group of gossipers. As soon as you turn your back, they'll be gossiping about you too!

There was something else about this very educational video, the many replies left in the comments section. User @karlhungus1965 replied, "Learned this lesson the hard way. Made "friends" with a person at my job. Went to his house for family gatherings, super bowl parties, went golfing regularly with him. He went to our boss one day and unleashed a list of invalid complaints about me. Completely blind sided me. Instead of verifying the information our boss raked me over the coals. I was so upset I quit on the spot. Never again!!".

@nepsterRVK replied, "Rule 1) Company is not your family! Rule 2) Coworkers are not your friends! Rule 3) HR protects company not you!". Incredibly, this reply got 315 replies on its own so it's clear this video touched a nerve with a lot of people, including me as I was once threatened by a co-worker (he said: I'm gonna rip you face off) who assumed I had defaced a happy face poster he had taped to the side of his tool box. Of course, I did not deface his beloved happy face poster but in that moment when he confronted me, I saw the devil in his eyes, seriously. I stood my ground and was adamant with him I was not the culprit he was looking for. Fortunately, he went on leave for 3 months just a few days later for mental reasons. His wife, who also worked in the same building, recently left him, for ANOTHER CO-WORKER! He tried to take out his anger on me. And that's another thing I've seen over and over again, husbands and wives working in the same place, only to see one of them screw off with another co-worker. I don't care what anybody says, there's NO excuse for that!

@munchkin0518 replied, "It's difficult. Trying to stay almost robotically neutral vs. wanting to let a bit of your humanity out with people you spend 8+ hours with – it's always a weird balance to strike". Like nepsterRVK's reply, munchkin0518's reply also got an overwhelming reponse with 125 replies and over 4.6K likes.

A few years back, I watched a documentary on corporatism and its top down leadership. This doc explained that each corporation, big or small, is nothing more than a dictatorship. That's what top down control is and munchkin0518's reply struck a nerve with me because that's how I often felt, like a robot, not allowed to show any emotion. If you try to defend yourself against a nasty co-worker, you may be labeled violent / aggressive and that's grounds for immediate dismissal.

The truth is, the company you work for is not your family. They'll lay you off without a second thought if it meant more profits for them and they often do, don't they. Family doesn't throw you out in the street like that. Neither do your real friends. As mentioned earlier, I've had many jobs over the years and never kept in touch with any of my former co-workers, the simple reason being, they are not family and they are not my friends. 

I'm sure you understand what I'm relaying here, if you've been out in the workforce long enough. Some people live in fear of going to work and it shouldn't be that way. I'm sure the stress of having to work next to co-workers has a lot to do with the big shift towards remote work. I've worked with some fantastic people over the years and can say only good things about them. Unfortunately, it only take one to ruin it all for everyone. Even worse, more often than not, there are several instigators.

I recommend having a look at the video titled, 'Your co-workers are not your friends'. Afterwards, browse through all the many comments. Each have their own little story to tell and it's somewhat comforting to know we're not alone in dealing with the daily grind. Life ain't easy and it ain't supposed to be but there are co-workers out there who are perpetual 'downers', 'gossipers' and 'vindictive'. There are even a few who are downright socio / psychopathic and extremely dangerous.

So be careful of what information you share with your co-workers as it could come back to haunt you. Every situation is different, of course. Some might say their job and co-workers are excellent. I say, 'good for them". They are the lucky few.

Please share any experience(s) you might have had at work that might relate to the story behind this post. How did you handle it? Just let it out. You'll feel better!

Peace and love to everyone!


I'm now also on Substack with new podcasts. 

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Name's Joe and I live in Ontario, Canada. I like writing on a wide variety of topics. I enjoy keeping track of markets, investing and commodities and the crypto sector. Also do some coding for web browsers.

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