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When do friends stop being friends?

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I have a workmate that has been a good friend, at least I hope has been a good friend, for the past three years. Actually, recent events are starting to make me doubt, and more importantly, fear this friendship.


We both are in a very competitive field. Long hours, lots of stress, lots of mean people, etc., etc. In that fire, we developed a friendship. We talked about work, drank a few beers, went out with wives and girlfriends. But in this relationship, my friend was always sort of perceived as the leader. He had the good relationships with the bosses, is a good worker and has real potential to succeed. More importantly, he is a good salesman and negotiator, portraying a suave outward appearance and is disarming. It doesn't hurt also that he is a handsome guy with a way with women.


But he does have a dark side. He is extremely insecure (he comes from a pretty dysfunctional family), and is extremely competitive, always wanting to know what the other guy is up to. He also has an extremely annoying habit of walking into my office to talk about his recent "successes," i.e., how he has met this person and that person, how "good" he is at his work now, and all the praise that he is receiving from others.


In all this, I thought I was just a friend and not an area of his concern workwise. And since I have been willing to listen to his self-praise patiently, I think he thought I was someone he could talk to without me later hating him for his narcisism. But it's true, I didn't mind because friends will be friends.


But lately, I have been having my own successes at work, receiving some praise and attention and getting some success on the client front. Not nearly as much as him, but I'm pleased with it. When I told him about this, his reaction was troubling...sort of cold and unenthusiastic. He cut me down a little, making fun of my success a little, warning me about this that and the other. Basically, trying to make me feel not that good about these successes. He has been continuing with this attitude today, even going so far as implying that he doesn't like my nationality all that much or my country of birth all that much...not directly but insinuating (even though a lot of his "best friends" are exactly of my nationality...in fact he doesn't seem to have that many friends of his nationality). Since then, we have not been that comfortable hanging out with each other. I sense a increasing competitiveness with me, may be even jealousy, hatred?


What worries me is that he is a very savvy person in that he tries to make strategic relationships, even if he does not like that person and he is always looking for bits on information that can be used against that person if he needs to. I've heard him talk about this before concerning others. I am now afraid he might use that against me should I cross him in some way or another. How has it gotten to this? Were we friends only because he did not perceive me as a threat to his success? Was that all this was?

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You got it right on the money.

There is nothing worse than a man or woman in the business field of a company that looks at things a one person show.

They are the dawgs of the dawg eat dawg world that makes up so much of the nastiness in business.

One day people will wake up enough to want the teams that work in a business to be the ones they invest their time and money into.

I would keep as friendly an appearance to those around in the office as you can, still pass compliments, don't brag as this guy did, don't let him hurt you either, and if he comes to brag say that you are sorry but both his and your time is quite valuable and that there is work to be done on your end and you hope that he as a team member of the company will respect that. It is best to have a witness in this. Even if it is just the secretary or a colleague. Take them out to lunch to discuss inlisting their help and that you will do the same in kind. The way to beat a dawg is to form a pack. Make it an effort to get everyone in the office to be a team. Even if it means taking one person at a time out to lunch to form a bond between you and them and discuss the issue of team work and competition issues in the work place. Then type up a comprehensive memo to send to the boss for review after putting in you and your colleagues concerns. A memo that may be posted so keep out names and keep it pro team work environment. It may help.

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I fully agree.....you'll definitely have to watch your step with this colleague, if he's THAT competitive and sees others' success as that much of a threat. I would stick to my work, build your end of the business quietly, and keep your "triumphs" to yourself. Be friendly, but brisk, when it comes to your friend, and, if he questions it, simply state that you're busy and that you know he is too. You could also (if you didn't think it would cause further problems) state that things seemed rather strained between you two lately, and you weren't comfortable with it.


It's a very delicate situation, but, insecurities and narcissism aside, I'm assuming this man acts like a professional while at work, when involved IN his work. If you start to hear scuttlebutt that he may try to cause problems for you, take it to your boss and explain what happened as you described to us. At least this way there's a forewarning and it doesn't turn into a petty "he said, no HE said" thing.


And the comments about trying to raise the ideals of teamwork are good too. Granted, most office workers get sick to death of hearing how they have to "work as a team", but it certainly can't hurt, if you're friendly with a couple of people, to casually mention the same thing to them that you did on here, and just try to understate it.


Touchy all around, quite honestly. But I think that if you keep your nose to the grindstone and mind your own business, hopefully this "friend" will do the same, and there won't be any more of this nasty business......




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