What Is The Difference Between A Coworker And A Colleague (Explained)

Written By Aleena

What is the difference between a coworker and a colleague? Well, both are coworkers, but the difference lies in their relationship.

A coworker is someone you work with and see daily. A colleague is someone you know from a professional setting outside your typical workplace.

Criteria Of The Difference Between A Coworker And A Colleague?

Let’s start with the criteria of the difference between a coworker and a colleague.

1. Your Relationship With Them:

Are they someone you see every day? Do you have a good relationship with them? If so, they are probably a coworker.

They are likely a colleague if you only see them sporadically or have a more formal relationship.

Consequently, a colleague is someone you share common interests and goals with. 

What Is The Difference Between A Coworker And A Colleague

You might not see them every day, but you have a rapport when you do see them.

On the other hand, a coworker is someone you work with regularly.

You might not have much in common with them outside of work, but you see them often enough to develop a friendship.

2. The Nature Of Your Work Together:

Do you work on projects together or independently? If you work on projects together, you are coworkers.

If you work independently but are in the same field, you are colleagues.

For example, two doctors who work in the same hospital but never see each other.

They have different patients and their would-be colleagues.

But if you work on the same team or in the same department, you are coworkers.

For instance, two nurses work on the same floor and see each other every day. They would-be coworkers.

3. The Professionalism Of Your Work Together:

Do you act professionally when you are around them?

If so, they are probably a colleague. If not, they are most likely a coworker.

This is because colleagues usually have a more formal relationship than coworkers.

But there are exceptions to this rule. For example:

Two lawyers who work in the same firm might see each other every day. But they still have a formal relationship and would-be colleagues.

Two secretaries who work in the same office might see each other every day.

And they have a friendly relationship, but it is still professional. So, they would-be coworkers.

4. The Amount Of Time You Have Worked Together:

Have you only known them for a short time, or have you worked with them for a long time?

If you have only known them quickly, they are probably a colleague.

If you have worked with them for a long time, they are most likely a coworker.

This is because it takes time to develop a relationship with someone.

So, if you have only known someone for a short time, they are probably not your coworker yet.

5. The Level Of Intimacy In Your Relationship:

Are you comfortable talking to them about personal things? If so, they are probably a coworker.

If not, they are most likely a colleague. This is because coworkers usually have a more intimate relationship than colleagues.

What Is The Difference Between A Coworker And A Colleague

But there are exceptions to this rule too. For example:

Two friends who work in the same office might see each other every day. But they still have a more intimate relationship and would-be coworkers.

Two coworkers who have been working together for a long time might not be very close.

But they are still considered coworkers because they have a good working relationship.

6. The Setting In Which You Work Together:

Do you work in the same office or different offices? If you work in the same office, they are probably a coworker.

If you work in different offices, they are most likely a colleague. Colleagues usually have a more distant relationship.

And they only see each other when they have to work on a project together.

Now that you know the difference, you can use the right word to describe your relationships at work.

Why Does It Matter – To Identify The Difference Between Coworker and Colleague?

It might seem small, but it can be essential to use the right word to describe your relationship.

Example 1:

For example, let’s say you talk to your boss about a colleague.

If you use the word coworker, it might sound like you are not very close to this person.

But if you use the word colleague, it will sound like you have a more professional relationship.

So, using the right word can make a difference in how your boss perceives you.

Example 2:

Another example might be if you are talking to a friend about a coworker.

If you use the word colleague, it might sound like you don’t know this person very well.

But if you use the word coworker, it will sound like you have a more personal relationship with this person.

Essential to knowessential to know the difference

So, using the right word can help you describe your relationships more accurately.

Example 3:

Likewise, you are writing a resume or cover letter. You will want to use the word colleague when describing your relationships with other professionals.

But if you are writing about your relationships with people you work with daily, you will want to use the word coworker.

Here, using the right word can make a difference in how potential employers perceive you.

So, it is essential to know the difference between these two words.

When To Use Coworker:

What does coworker mean? A coworker refers to a person who you work with.

For example,

I have been working with my new coworker for two weeks now. We are getting along great. I asked my coworker for help with the project.

As you can see from these examples, coworkers can be people who you work closely with or not so closely with.

You can also use a coworker to describe someone who works in the same field as you. But not necessarily in the same company.

For example,

I am going to meet my coworker for lunch today. She works in a different company, but we have the same job title.

When To Use Colleague:

What does colleague mean? A colleague is someone with who you work within a professional setting.

For example,

My boss introduced me to his colleagues at the meeting. I need to talk to one of my colleagues about the project.

A professional setting.

As you can see from these examples:

Colleagues are people who you have a more formal relationship with.

You would usually only use a colleague to describe someone who works in the same field as you. And someone who you see regularly.

For example,

I am giving a presentation to my colleagues tomorrow. We have been working on this project for six months now.

So, these are the main differences between coworkers and colleagues.

Remember, coworkers, are people you work with. And colleagues are people you work with within a professional setting.

Does History State This Difference Between Coworker And Colleague?

The terms coworker and colleague have been around for a long time. But their meanings have changed over time.

Now, these words have different meanings. And they describe various relationships.

The word coworker described someone who worked in the same office as you in the past.

But now, the word coworker describes someone who works in the same field as you. And someone who you might not see regularly.

The word colleague has changed over time too. The word colleague described someone who worked in the same business as you in the past.

But now, the word colleague describes someone who works in the same field as you. And someone who you see regularly.

So, these words have changed over time. But their meanings are still different today.

Should You Treat Coworker And Colleague Differently?

Yes, it would help if you treated coworkers and colleagues differently. Here’s how:

How To Treat A Coworker?

There is no one correct answer to this question. It depends on your relationship with this person.

If you are close friends with this person, you can treat them like friends.

But if you are not so close with this person, you might want to treat them more like a colleague.

This means being polite and professional and avoiding personal topics of conversation.

Treat coworkers and colleagues differently.

You have to find a balance that works for you and the other person.

Here is a good conversation:

Hey, what’s up? I heard that you’re having some trouble with the project. Let me know if you need any help.

Do you see? This is how you can treat a coworker. You are polite and professional. But you are also offering help and being casual.

How To Treat A Colleague?

When it comes to colleagues, you should always be polite and professional.

You don’t have to be best friends with this person. But it would help if you still treated them with respect.

Avoid personal topics of conversation. And try to keep your interactions short and to the point.

Both coworkers and colleagues are essential people in your life.

So, it is essential to know the difference between these two words. And to use them correctly.

You converse with a colleague like this:

Good morning. I hope you’re well. I wanted to talk to you about the project. Are you free for a quick chat?

As you can see, this example is more formal and professional. And it avoids personal topics of conversation.

Conclusion:

Coworkers are people you work with. And colleagues are people you work with within a professional setting.

Both coworkers and colleagues are essential people in your life.

So, it is essential to know the difference between these two words. And to use them correctly.

Last Updated on 1 month by Shahzaib Arshad

Aleena

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