Is Your Coworker a Friend or a Frenemy?

Frenemies are very high school, but a lot of people don’t seem to stop acting like frenemies when they graduate. The difference between a friend and a frenemy is hard to spot at first. In the beginning, you and this person may take a liking to one another. What turns out to be a beloved friendship gets tarnished by the frenemy’s ruthless actions to get what they want, even if that means betraying you. Don’t be fooled by this wolf in sheep’s clothing, the frenemy is one of the worst relationships you can have at the office.

A workplace friend will be trustworthy. A frenemy appears to be, but isn’t. Unlike a true friend, a frenemy will use all of the office gossip and politics you share amongst yourselves in private and use it to their advantage. For example, if you happen to inform them of a big project idea you have, a friend will support you and encourage you to approach your boss about it. A frenemy, on the other hand, will say the same things a friend would say, but will then go behind your back and approach your manager before you go about the project. They will take credit for your work. You’ll find yourself saying, “How could you do this to me?” a lot when it comes to your toxic relationship with a frenemy. If you find yourself saying this to someone you thought was a friend, you now know they aren’t a friend. They are a frenemy.

Frenemies will do whatever it takes to get whatever they want. Frenemies are ultra-competitive so they see everyone as competition rather than as a colleague. They will always want to look good by putting others down. A real friend at work will foster healthy competition with you. They will put in good effort to get the job done. If you’re working within the same department, chances are you’re working together a lot. They may collaborate with you and recognize that in order for them to get ahead they need to be a team player and step up to be a leader where they see fit.

A frenemy will try to exclude you from projects and you may find yourself uninvited to meetings or lunches. The frenemy will apologize and probably say they forgot to add you to the email or that they thought they had already told you. A good workplace friend will never exclude you and will always encourage you to participate in team activities and social gatherings.

Despite all the backstabbing and put downs the frenemy puts you through, they won’t be sympathetic or apologize for their actions. They view the workplace as a place for competition and they will justify their actions as a way to move forward in the organization. It’s best to confront a frenemy head on. Since you work in the same office keeping your distance likely won’t work. Let them know your privy to what they’re doing and that you don’t like it. Try to change their attitude and make them view you as a friend rather than someone they need to sabotage. Opening up the conversation to establishing a true work friendship will help the frenemy drop down their guard and finally be open to trust.

SOURCE: Business Week
IMAGE: Courtesy of Me, Myself and Jen

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