Frenemies…and the Fine Art of Finding Your True Friends

by Marta Countess

Not everyone wants you to succeed. It’s sad but true.

Many local business owners spend an incredible amount of time networking to meet people to build their brands.  It’s the Dale Carnegie “Like-Know-Trust” mantra.  You must get out and meet people before you’re ever going to sell them your product or service.  You need to connect.  It’s especially important if you run your own business. It has been true for the success of our video production company.

We have had the pleasure of meeting some fantastic business people in the Lehigh Valley.   Networking exposes you to wonderful people.  You’ll find yourself being pulled to some who really stand out. They are likely “your people” and will remain so. The cream always rises to the top!

However, there are a few that seem genuine who will surprise you (and train you to be a better B.S. detector as you grow your network).

I recently had the pleasure of being in the studio audience at a TV show taping, a networking opportunity with The Wisdom Coalition.  There were a few familiar faces in the room but many I’d never met.  It was a diverse, multi-cultural collection of businesswomen I was pleased to meet.  But it was one of the panelists who struck a nerve with every single one of us that day.

Caroline Adams Miller, a professional life coach, best-selling author, and speaker talked about how important it is to surround yourself with like-minded, supportive people.  Friends who will support your long-term goals. Sound advice that can be a challenge for those looking for true friends in business.

When Miller brought up ‘frenemies,” the entire studio audience started nodding their head.  Have you heard of them?  A frenemy is someone that masquerades as a friend but deep down is an enemy.  Miller said, “Eighty-four percent of women today say they have ‘frenemies,’ and what I will tell you is that friends who are enemies will undermine our goals, our success and our well-being without us even knowing it is happening.

Clearly, each woman in the studio audience had at least one frenemy in their life, because that nodding continued. Maybe it was a “mean girl” in high school.   Perhaps a co-worker she met in the boardroom who wanted to be the shining star at a meeting.  Or the person who got the promotion she’d worked hard for.

As sad as it is, it’s not a women-only problem.  How many of you can relate to someone who seemed to be in your corner, who disappointed you with a surprisingly negative reaction to your business or personal success?  Maybe they’re silent.  Maybe they’re negative.  Maybe they’re openly envious. They don’t belong in your inner circle!

Miller says the true test of a friend is whether they celebrate your successes in a genuine way. Here’s a little checklist I came up with to help you decide:

  • Are they curious about your work?
  • Do they support your ideas?
  • Is your friend enthusiastic about your accomplishments?
  • Do they celebrate your wins?
  • Do they openly compliment your ideas in group situations?
  • Do they refer business to you?
  • Do they nominate you for awards or talk up your abilities?
  • How do you feel after you spend time with this friend? Happy?  Tense?  Angry?

If you’ve answered no to most of those questions, you’ve identified a frenemy.

Use the checklist to help detox your life and focus on building an inner circle of those that you can support and that can support you in return. Be the friend who makes introductions and lifts people up. Go to their events, follow them and support their social media posts. Be a connector and a supporter. Becoming a true friend in business is the best way to protect against frenemies.  When you surround yourself with the right people, you and your business will both benefit.

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