You’ve beat the odds and landed a stellar job—but even after a few months, something doesn’t feel quite right. You like what you’re doing, and your coworkers seem nice enough, but you’re still having trouble fitting in at the office. If you can’t quite put your finger on what’s putting you at odds with your company culture, here are a few actions you can take to get your colleagues on your side.
Make an ally. Start by picking one colleague who seems approachable. Strike up a friendly conversation, and seek out common ground between the two of you. Then, be sure to carve out some time each day for chitchat. Once one person knows how awesome you are, he or she will likely spread the word to other coworkers. Soon, when a group orders lunch or rallies for dinner or drinks after work, your name will be on the list.
Go with the flow. If you’re invited to lunch or happy hour, say yes! Doing so will let your coworkers know that you’re interested in getting to know them better. After spending time with your coworkers in a relaxed setting outside the office, you’ll begin to feel more comfortable around them at work. The next time plans are being arranged, make a suggestion or two about where to go and what to do. Just try not to seem too eager—relax, and let things run their natural course.
Be humble. You’re going to have to swallow your pride and deal with feedback. Don’t be a know-it-all—take criticism in stride, and accept the advice given to you by coworkers and supervisors. If people see you taking their suggestions into account, they’ll realize that you’re a team player, and they’ll come to appreciate the unique value you bring to the organization. On the job, be the first to volunteer for assignments that no one else wants—your coworkers may appreciate your willingness to do the grunt work, and your boss will definitely take notice.
Speak no evil. Succumbing to the office rumor mill can be tempting, but gossip is never a good idea—especially when you’re trying to make allies. If you find yourself in a situation where one coworker starts complaining to you about another, simply listen. Remember that you’re new, and you don’t know whether or not your commentary will be repeated (or to whom). If someone finds out that you’ve been talking trash about them, it may be difficult – if not impossible – to get them on your side again.
Lay off the lip. Sure, some people are sarcastic by nature. But when you show too much attitude too soon after meeting someone, there’s a high likelihood that your response will be perceived as rudeness rather than humor. Let your colleagues get to know your sweet side before unleashing your full-blown sarcastic self.
Break the Ice
Are you ready to reach out, but stumped on how to begin the conversation? Here are a few universally safe topics to get you started.
- Pay the person a compliment. Everyone loves to be admired, especially if it’s clear that your colleague puts effort into his or her appearance.
- Discuss the local cuisine. Your coworker would probably love a restaurant recommendation or an opinion on which dish to try next.
- Mention a movie you’ve seen lately, or reference a particularly juicy episode of your favorite TV show. Your coworker may not share your taste, which could make for an even more compelling conversation.
- Remark on something noteworthy about your immediate surroundings. Is there artwork on the wall, or a large crowd of people nearby? A neutral shared experience can be a great jumping-off point.
- Ask the person where he or she grew up. People usually have tons to say about their hometowns, and who knows—you might even hail from the same place!