aving friendships in the workplace impacts my own level of job satisfaction in many ways. It for one, gives me a reason outside showing up for just a paycheck to enjoy being at work, it motivates me to be productive in projects that are team oriented, and it also helps the day go by faster knowing you won’t be as stressed out when you have people to pass the time with. These are normally people who work hard just like me and are willing to do the job how it’s supposed to be. This falls under Aristotle’s soul connection level of friendship. According to him, “A friend is a self that serves as a “mirror of the soul””(Aristotle, 1169b-1170a4). How I interpret this is that you connect with people who are like you who possess the same attributes as yourself and have the same desires to achieve.
Some of my friendships in the workplace have fell under Aristotle’s three levels of friendship of utility, pleasure and soul connection. For utility, I had a job where my co-workers would take bad everyday about anything and everyone. I would just come in and keep to myself and not involve myself with the nonsense. For pleasure, I had I a job I loved to go in everyday knowing I was good at what I did and also enjoyed it and would be consumed with spending the majority at my job and not at home. For soul connection I had a job where we were all close friends who hung out all the time outside of work and were genuinely supportive of one another through life choices and life in general. We all started at the bottom and we all became supervisors, and each had our own shifts. I realized through all my experience that the workplace can truly be your best friend or your worst enemy.
To a certain extent I would personally agree with sociologist findings pertaining to the sincerity of my work colleagues. Though at times you may see your co-workers more times than your family during the week, they may still not know who you truly are. This kind of relationship is based on mutual activity and are easy to form due to the fact you don’t have to share too much of yourself to find in commonality amongst one another. In books 8 and 9 of Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle identifies two categories of friendships that exist in the workplace as intrinsic and extrinsic. According to Aristotle, a intrinsic friendship was the perfect friendship. He states this by saying “Perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good, and alike in virtue; for these wish well alike to each other qua good, and they are good in themselves. Now those who wish well to their friends; for they do this by reason of their own nature and not incidentally…(Aristotle, 1156b7-9)^3.)” What this kind of friendship means to me is that you do something for one another without regard to self-reward.
When it comes to work you don’t truly know someone’s intentions on whether they are befriending you vs friending you. Vernon states when referring to business, “A capitalistic system fosters distrust among members of society; in part, because no one can ever trust anyone else”. I disagree with this view based on the I don’t see work relationships as being a trust or not trust relationship depending on if your safety is depended upon someone else. Most people just want to come to work to work and get their job done so that they may return to their families which aligns with Aristotle’s views that “…They like each other only insofar as it does them some good…They are friendly because its beneficial to be so”.
My experience with enacting friendships of utility to secure my employment have been well. Through observation of how others treat one another and gossip about one another when things aren’t going their way, I learned to not get very close to people I work with and to just come to work to work. I do believe this is ethical because I am not leading anyone on in a false friendship and I also believe people are allowed to create personal boundaries of who is allowed full access into their personal lives without having to pretend.
Vernon, M. (2010). The Meaning of Friendship. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Chapter 1: Friends at Work