One of the most difficult things about starting a new job is trying to become friendly with your colleagues without making yourself seem like a total dweeb.
Be too friendly and you come off as a bit of a stalker or maybe a motormouth. Be more reserved and you might be perceived as snooty or weird.
So, how to strike the right balance and start relationships off on a friendly note? Here are some ideas:
- Ask the right kinds of questions. Don't ask new colleagues about their romantic life, health, politics, religion or how much they make. Safe subjects can include asking about good restaurants, recent travels or their favorite sports teams.
- Listen carefully. In the beginning it can be difficult to know what subjects shouldn't be touched with a co-worker. For example, you may innocently inquire about a pet, only to have the co-worker break into sobs because her 22-year-old Mr. Kitty just went to cat heaven. Listen for the subjects workers discuss with one another, and watch for cues that some issues shouldn't be approached.
- Don't sound like a broken record. There's nothing that will get you the reputation of being a complete and utter boor like telling the same story over and over again. No, your co-workers don't want to know every morning about your horrible commute.
- Don't give up. Just because you commit a gaffe and talk about an issue that rankles others or ask a question that is awkward, don't withdraw into your cubicle to die of mortification. Everyone makes mistakes when getting to know others -- make a sincere apology and move on.
- Give up being snarky. While your best buddies may love what they consider to be your hilarious commentary on the state of the world, this trait may be unappreciated and misunderstood by new colleagues. Rein in your tendencies to be sarcastic or satirical until they get to know you better. Any cruel or gossipy comments are never appropriate in the workplace.
What other tips do you have for new workers to form good relationships at work?