Assume Alice and Bob work together in a software company with a pretty informal and easygoing work culture. They get along well. They see each other during team lunches. They help each other out with work stuff. They share funny pictures and videos on the office instant messenger.
They do NOT see each other outside of work, except for team outings. They have NOT shared private contact details (phone/email/IM) with each other (it's never come up). They might share some amusing personal anecdotes, but they don't share serious stuff from their personal lives with each other.
Now, there's a coffee shop near the workplace which the employees frequent. Bob is meeting some of his friends (from outside work) here, some evening after the workday is over. He runs into Alice.
Now, Bob can say to his friends:
- Guys, meet Alice, a friend of mine.
- Guys, meet Alice; we're coworkers/colleagues/teammates.
There's a flip-side to both.
If Bob goes with option 1, Alice, who might only think of Bob as a coworker, could consider this presumptuous.
If Bob goes with option 2, Alice, who might feel that they're close, could consider it an insult to be classified as a mere coworker.
Either choice is potentially detrimental to their work relationship.
When I'm in Bob's shoes, I go for option 3 and say something like "Guys, meet Alice, she's the best developer on our team." This establishes that I know her from work without using any labels.
However, this doesn't always work out, as there isn't always a good option 3. Making one on the spot could result in something more awkward than either option.
I was wondering, is there a way to handle this tactfully? How does one introduce someone they know from work to people they know from outside? Especially a young single male introducing a young single female.