Personal and professional relationships are difficult for some to segregate. Perhaps the toughest instance of having to navigate a personal relationship in a professional setting is when we come across one of our friends whilst they’re on the job. Your friend may be a teller at the bank you frequent, or a security guard at the local strip mall you’re at. As a consequence of daily life, we sometimes come across our friends at work whilst we roam free. Different sets of rules govern us and our friends in those situations. In addition to all the civilian duties all must subscribe to, your friends on the job have specific responsibilities to execute and own.
A common, yet difficult to avoid, mistake people make, is to persuade their friends to show them special treatment while they’re on the job. You may find yourself asking for your friend to waive the transaction fee at the bank, or may expect your other friend to let you sit past the allotted 20 minute limit at the food court.
This article aims to explain why requesting, and expecting, special treatment from your friends while they work is not a good thing to do.
The Person Who Wants Their Friends to Succeed
The specific instance of being treated in a special manner by a friend at work is difficult to resist because it is often a low risk act. The likelihood of your friend getting in trouble for treating you differently than a stranger is low. In your perception, you may perceive the risk to be minimal enough to warrant a request for special treatment. You would, in turn, be trading a small potential for your friend to get in trouble for your own benefit.
The small likelihood of getting in trouble however, doesn’t change your willingness to place your interests above your friend’s. From your friend’s perception, the best thing for them to do, notwithstanding any friends which come into their place of work, is to be a good employee. Following rules, establishing reliability, and proving to be a dependable worker is in your friend’s best interest to exhibit. Even though the likelihood of them getting caught treating you in a special way will be insignificant, the message you send requesting special treatment will be off putting.
Your friend will perceive you to not act in a way which propels them toward an improved reputation as an employee. They wouldn’t understand you to want them to continue to improve as a person and as an employee. You’d be shortsighted in your perception of your relationship with that friend, and would value a specific instance more than the continued building of their reputation into the long term.
There would be a high chance of your friend feeling like you acted opportunistically with them, even if they don’t get caught treating you in a special way. After you say your goodbyes, a bad taste will linger in their mouth because of your desire to be treated in a special way.
The optimal thing to do, would be to propel your friend’s positive reputation at work by expecting and motivating them to act in accordance to all rules and regulations. A good friend would encourage their friends to be better employees not by dishing out special treatment, but by being consistent in how they treat all; strangers along with friends. A good friend will refuse special treatment at a certain establishment not because they don’t want it, but because it wouldn’t align with the best interest of those who work at that establishment.
The Customer Your Friend’s Colleagues Don’t Like
An often unanticipated effect of being specially treated by your friend at their workplace, is their colleagues taking note of your desire to be treated in that special way. If you’re a repeat customer of the establishment or service which employs your friend, then there can effects you don’t foresee affecting you down the line.
Your friend’s colleagues, who are against the special treatment of any customer, would perceive you to be needy. They’d notice you attempting to stand out from the rest of the customers which frequent the service or establishment in question. If they hold that perception of you, your friend’s absence would encourage them to put you back in “your place.”
Receiving special treatment by a friend can thereby hurt you if you present yourself at an establishment when your friend isn’t working. The other staff would first wonder why they haven’t been treating their own friends and family in a way which differs how they treat other customers. They’d want to be seen as the source of the special treatment too, just as your friend is seen as that source by you.
If they make a conclusion that they don’t want to risk being a source of special treatment / service, they’ll attempt to put a stop to you expecting it from your friend. The way they do that may be unexpected and context specific. Other tellers at the bank may take their time prior to calling you for service. The waiters at the restaurant your friend works at can be colder toward you than usual, and may not see you as being worthy of receiving good service.
A sense of unfairness would be the source of others’ attempts to propel things back to balance. Your desire to be treated specially by your friend at his / her place of work would throw off a certain certain of fairness which all customers are deserving of.