Real Friends Or Just Work Friends?

The average teenager spends about 1/3 of their time with friends.  Hanging out at school, after school, playing sports, or just whatever.  One of my earliest friends (Reade) and I used to ‘ride around’ endlessly as young adolescents.  We’d just meet in our little town and ride our bikes all day, doing various things along the way.  I can’t remember what we did.  We just wanted to be together. We were real friends

When we become adults though, that 1/3 ratio drops to about 10% of our time spent with friends.

We know friends are critically important to our happiness.  We each need 2 or 3 close friends, and that’s good enough for most of us.  For me, my work is greatly enhanced when I know that I’m going to be meeting with friends (clients) that day.  When we get along well, it’s just joy.  That actually describes all of my long term clients.  Whenever we get together we just have a great old time.

So here’s my point this morning:  We have this false dichotomy in our minds between our ‘work’ friends and our ‘real’ friends.

So, even thought we spend all day working together, we never socialize outside work because that time is reserved for our ‘real’ friends.

I want to challenge that paradigm.  Maybe your ‘real’ friends are right under your nose.

Who do you work with who meets these criteria:


  • greatly enhance your life
  • are the first person you want to tell a hilarious work incident to
  • would make coming to work a drag if they weren’t there
  • make you a better person
  • would stick up for you if your job was on the line
  • accept you for both your strengths and your weaknesses
  • They make you feel good about yourself
  • Go around telling other people what a great person you are

Maybe that person is your ‘real’ friend. Maybe it’s time to erase that false ‘work-friend’ line in your mind and cross over into real friendship.

So, here are my action steps for you this morning:

  1. Go tell the person who fits these criteria how muich you appreciate them and why
  2. Thank them for their friendship, and let them know that it makes a difference in your life
  3. Get together outside work sometime

Solidify that friendship, and take it with you though life!

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Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at

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