Two people sitting on the front of a car in a dessert, one has their arm around the other with their other arm in the air making the peace sign

A friend in need is a friend indeed; Can PA’s be friends? 

11th June 2020

Working closely with someone often can lead to friendships. After all, we spend a large proportion of our time at work and so it’s likely that our colleagues will see us at our best and our worst.

A relationship with a PA is different to a normal colleague in that they are required to perform intimate tasks, therefore maintaining boundaries and professional distance is imperative.

Having said that, some of my PA’s have worked for me for many years; we have similar personalities and it is natural for friendships to develop. There are certain people that you ‘click’ with and when this happens you can become close and form a bond. However, no matter how close the friendship is, my PA’s still respect professional boundaries.

Nearly a year ago a PA who I had a very close friendship with had to leave suddenly. She had worked full time with me for 15 years and accompanied me on some amazing holidays, as well as numerous social and professional engagements.

So before the current challenges of having to adapt to the new normal of lockdown and social distancing, I was already having to adapt to a new normal of being without this special person in my life. This has been very difficult and challenging, particularly given the current circumstances.

Supporting someone in the capacity of a PA is a unique profession and it takes quite a specific skill set to be able to excel at the role. The most successful PA’s are empathetic and possess good insight and intuition. It’s a dual role in that sometimes they need to be their own person and engage with me on that basis, while at other times they need to fade into the background, for example when I have personal and professional engagements.

Because of the nature of assistance that I need it’s imperative that my PA understands the subtleties of the role and can intuitively adapt to my needs in this way.

I think that this can make the role particularly challenging and inevitably there are some people who don’t excel at these qualities. Also it is human nature that you’re not going to get on with everybody you meet and on occasion there will be a clash of personalities which can lead to the relationship breaking down.

It can be frustrating and upsetting when I have to let a PA go because I have on many occasions put so much effort into helping people understand the role and into building the relationship. It’s not that they’re not nice people but unfortunately sometimes it just doesn’t work and it’s important that it’s not taken personally on either side.

Having said that, most of the relationships I’ve had with my PA’s have been very fulfilling and I enjoy and appreciate the camaraderie that these relationships bring to my life.

Do you have a PA or carer? Or are you a PA or carer for someone else? What is your relationship with them?

Can this relationship also be a friendship and how does that work?

Has the current situation intensified feelings? Has it caused boundaries to become less distinct or has it clarified your feelings in relation to PA’s versus friends and family?

Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

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