Walking through the doors on your first day at a new job can be nerve-wracking and overwhelming. It’s like a flashback to the first day of high school all over again. You walk into a room of people you don’t know, cliques and friend groups are already formed, you feel judged and left-out. But, there is one difference: we are adults now.
So, don’t rush over to your new desk with your head down avoiding all conversation and eye-contact. Be confident. After all, you earned your place there as well; you do fit in and you deserve to be there. If you can realize that, your coworkers will welcome you right into your new office.
Just follow a few of these tips to avoid feeling left-out and to help you connect with your coworkers:
I know it can be a habit to sit down at your desk chair and immediately put your headphones in. I do it. Listening to music instead of empty noise with the occasional hushed conversation or telephone ring is so much more relaxing. However, it could benefit you a lot more than you may think by engaging in some conversation. Simple small-talk with your coworkers can make you feel more connected. Share info and ask about their pets, favorite color, hobbies, or where they like to shop. A simple conversation starter such as, “What are your plans for the weekend?” can go a long way.
Other conversation starters:
- I’m trying to decide what to make my family for dinner tonight. Do you have any suggestions?
- I’d like to plan a vacation to __________. Have you ever been there?
- I’m running my son to ___________ practice right after work tonight. Do you have any kids? Do they play sports?
- We’re still working on potty-training the new puppy. Do you have any pets?
- So, how long have you worked here? Do you have any tips for me?
- I just moved to this area. What are some fun, local things to do? Restaurants to go to?
If you sit at your desk with your headphones in all day your coworkers may think that you don’t want to talk to them and then they’ll avoid starting conversation with you as well. Plus, you could miss out on some very important conversation topics that might involve something work related. And don’t worry about losing yourself in conversation and not getting any work done. Small-talk is very effortless and doesn’t require much thought; I’m sure you’ll be able to multi-task.
The great thing about working in an office is that you and your coworkers all have the same lunch break. If your office has a cafeteria or small café, sit with other people. Don’t isolate yourself at a table all alone. Starting on your first day, sit with another group of people and talk to them.
If everyone typically leaves the office for lunch, invite them to go to lunch with you or go grab a coffee. Take the time to get to know everyone. If someone else invites you to lunch, accept their invitation (unless of course you have a legitimate reason for politely declining). Don’t decline an invitation to socialize with coworkers simply because you feel slightly uncomfortable around an unfamiliar group of people. Who knows, you may even make a few friends.
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask one of your coworkers for help. Whether it be a work-related question or something as simple as “Where is the bathroom?” You’ll have your question answered and your coworker will feel that you trust and value their input. Now you two are already more connected. This is also a great way to have a conversation with other employees while still remaining productive and on-task.
Work Related Conversation
Speaking of partaking in an on-task conversation, take advantage of this opportunity whenever it presents itself. Discuss work related topics or projects with anyone in a similar department or working on the same project as you. Don’t be afraid to offer your input as well. Even if you’re a new employee. You bring knowledge and expertise to the table as well. Any suggestion that you can give will be greatly appreciated.
If you work in a cubicle, partaking in conversation can be difficult. So, take advantage of every opportunity: an elevator ride, a coffee break or while you’re waiting for a meeting o begin.
Go out for Dinner/Drinks
As you start to connect more with your coworkers, take it to the next level. Go out to dinner or for drinks with a small group. At this point, you are actually making friends and moving past the “work acquaintance” title. While you’re hanging out together outside of work, you are no longer limited to small talk and work-related topics, so now you can get to know these people. There’s no way you will feel left out at work once you’ve made friends. Now, you are part of one of the friend groups that intimidated you on your first day.
It’s pretty simple really. All you have to do to “fit in” is make an effort. Start a conversation, offer an invitation to socialize outside of work or engage in work-related topics with your coworkers. You’ll be amazed at how easy all these things really are after you remove your headphones and are confident in yourself and the skills and personality that you bring into the office.
Like I mentioned before, we are adults now. There are no mean girls, nerds or jocks; just smart, hard-working employees–a category which you fit right into perfectly. Your work day will go by so much faster and you’ll be happier and have a better attitude about work when you feel like a part of the office and not a secluded outcast. All you have to do is make an effort to make friends!