I have often felt uncomfortable when referring to people I work with. He is my colleague or colleague of mine who brought this, etc.....… It never conveyed what I felt for them. “Colleague” seemed like something in which I was not intimately involved. It always felt that something is missing.
I think - you find missing things in Goa!
For me, the journey from colleagues to work friends is primarily associated with in-person meetings. Being a person who used to think of value in keeping work and personal life separate, goa retreat was a new experience to explore. In this retreat, I explored different forms of communication that I did not know existed. As someone who has always felt the inability of words to express her complete self, it was surprising when people started understanding your non-verbal cues. Learning that words are not the only means of communication in a workspace was experiential.
During three days retreat, we started with hesitant greetings and a formal introduction with the new members. Things started getting interesting with the team dinner game of writing five things about one of the members, which is unknown to all. This was the game where exciting facts about our members started popping up. Even though most of the names guessed were wrong, we learned so much about each other without individually speaking to them. For the next two days, we participated in different physically, emotionally, and mentally stimulating activities accompanied by lots of informal hangouts at the lunch/dinner table. The environment created at the retreat was exceptional, as our interaction went beyond work, and we started sharing our views about everything in the breezy air.
Retrospectively, I understand the value of those impromptu conversations. These conversations provide windows to each other's lives, their value system, and most importantly, their life celebrations and challenges. It makes working in a team and collaboration so much easier, because now if one doesn't agree with something, they feel more confident and patient in explaining it to others.
In the end, calling people colleagues with whom I shared the best stories doesn't do justice to the intimacy I feel with them. Thus next time, I am introducing them as friends I also work with.