Anyone with a grandmother can probably remember this advice: You are known for the company you keep. My Italian grandmother-in-law had a favorite saying along the lines of: "You lie downa witha the dogs, you gonna getta da fleas."
On the job, that's good advice. You hang out with the slackers or with the whiners or with the pompous idiots, and guess what? Other people assume you're just like them.
But I think there's another key to this equation: You're also know by who you DON'T hang out with. So, if you avoid the tech people as if their gadgets have radioactive properties, then it's going to be noticed. If you'd rather staple your own thumb to your tongue rather than attend an office party, it's going to be noticed.
The point is, you don't operate in a vacuum at work. Companies have quickly learned that if they want to survive in this global economy, they have to learn to adapt, to change -- to get along in different markets.
You need to learn to do the same. You're not going to go far in your career if you ignore colleagues and use a "I'm OK, you're not" philosophy.
So, the next time there's an office pizza party, talk to people outside your comfort zone. Ask someone you've avoided in the past for a cup of coffee. It might not be fun at first -- it might be a bit uncomfortable. But after a while, you'll start to be seen as someone who is open to new experiences, people and ideas.
And what could be better for you -- or your career -- than that?
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