That ‘professional’ predicament

August 31, 2017 Business , OTHER photo



Bikash Mohapatra



My current employers have offered me a swanky workstation, a good position, a competitive work environment, a decent pay package and adequate opportunities for professional growth. What is lacking is an ‘office friend’.


This is something I am experiencing for the first time. In a professional career that has spanned a dozen years, there was never this dilemma within.

To be honest, it is quite a frustrating phase, which I hope will pass sooner than later.

It is a fact that an individual more or less shares purely a working relationship with his/her colleagues. There might be an odd friendship or two, that transcends the office premises, but that is largely few and far between.


It is imperative here to admit that ‘friendship’ is a far more elaborate term, with bigger connotations, and varies from person to person, depending on how they define it. To me, it is something very special, as in I neither make nor lose friends easily.


However, it is also a fact that when you join an organization you tend to find people, preferably from the same age group, with whom you strike a chord and get along with instantly.

It is with them that you prefer to work together— as a group, more often than not – have lunch with, go out for a coffee, take a stroll and share your ecstasy and frustration, depending on the kind of day you have had.

Yes, we all work in professional set-ups and have to interact with a lot of people on a day-to-day basis, but amid that plethora of faces it is this handful that helps you form a close coterie within the office space so to speak.

I am no different. In various stages of my professional life too I have been fortunate enough to be a part of such arrangements. But that was then.

As things stand, I don’t have that ‘small group’.

My current employers have offered me a swanky workstation, a good position, a competitive work environment, a decent pay package and adequate opportunities for professional growth. What is lacking is an ‘office friend’.


Most of the people I have to deal with, on a day-to-day basis, are either my seniors or my juniors. Mind you, it is a government set up and being respectful is the norm.

In such a scenario you can never really open up to your seniors, for you don’t know when one of them takes umbrage. Unlike in a private sector job, where things are considerably chilled out, in the public sector one has to draw a line, or risk a grudge.

Every person, in a senior position in a sarkaari (government) set up, assumes the mantle of your boss. The person concerned may (or may not) command respect – based on his actions or responsibilities – but nonetheless demands the same. In case you are in a lesser position, better adhere to that demand.

Even when such seniors seek your opinion on a particular matter, there’s a veiled warning, either tonal or through expression, one that commands you to hold back. Even when these good people ask you to relax, they are aware you are anything but…

Besides, the generation gap is always there, the set up notwithstanding. Frankly speaking, how much can you ease out in the company of people who are at least a couple of decades older?

At the same time you cannot joke around with your juniors, be it by age or by rank, as well. There’s always that apprehension within. That if you get to back-slapping terms with them, there’s always room for that sometimes unpleasant and mostly unwanted situation.


I must admit, at this juncture, that there have been occasions where I have crossed the line and got too far out of my comfort zone when interacting with my understudies, opened up probably a lot more than was needed, and paid the price.

For argument’s sake I can put it down to the fact that the age difference in this isn’t considerable. But in hindsight, it may not necessarily be the right reasoning.

On each such occasion I have realized there’s that stray remark, a personal comment passed, an intrusion into private space, which I may not have liked at that moment, or even later.

In some cases I have been at fault – initiating the discussion, crossing the line at times and facing the retaliation, which is for the want of a better word ‘caustic’. However, it is these incidents that probably compelled me to think, I should have been more discreet to begin with.

Any working professional will more often than not digest abuse hurled by a senior official. But no person with an iota of self-esteem will be able to bear an insult by a junior colleague.

Mind you, both are equally humiliating, but in case of the former one usually keeps quiet keeping in mind his/her professional interests. However, the probability of the latter being taken more personally is very high.

It is the presence of colleagues of the same age group that considerably mitigates the chances of such disasters. You can open up to such people sans any self-imposed restrictions, knowing very well that they will understand you better.

Therein is my ‘professional’ predicament.


It might seem weird to most of you who are reading this. To be honest, some friends have actually found it so. They have asked me to let go, chill out a bit more, not worry about things like respect and self-esteem. However, it is easier said than done.

To a large extent, the milieu you work in defines your professional equations.

In my case, it is a bureaucratic set up and the ‘Yes Sir’ culture that is prevalent. Only I letting go won’t change the scheme of things…practices that have been followed for years.

In fact, the entire thing might just boomerang on me, especially considering the fact that am only a few months old in this set up. Quite a few will definitely empathize with this predicament.

As I grapple to find a solution I realize at the moment there isn’t any, unless of course I decide to take any extreme step. What to do next remains the question.

I haven’t yet succeeded in finding an answer.






Bikash Mohapatra

A firm believer in the adage ‘variety is the spice of life’, New Delhi-based Bikash Mohapatra has been a human resource manager, a communication specialist, a strategist, a media professional and a researcher/writer at various stages of his career, acquiring a new set of skills with every additional responsibility.

Outside of work he is an avid traveler, with an innate desire to learn about various people, places and cultures. It is this ‘travel education’, coupled with varied ‘professional experience’ that manifest into thoughts and take the shape of detailed and elaborate narratives.

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