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“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” – Lewis Carroll
So, you got the job. Congratulations!
Now, you actually have to show up and fit in. For some people this is as sweet and easy as taking a bite of pie, but for others it can be the hardest part of a new job. Even more unfortunate are those who allow this initial awkwardness to set the tone for work relationships as time unfolds.
Don’t let this happen to you. Everyone is different, but there are some tried and true things you can do to connect with coworkers without changing your personality or coming off as an insincere brownnoser. The five tips below should help you get more out of your new job and make friends in the process.
Depending on how much you smile already, this piece of advice might sound too easy to be true or just silly; however, neither could be further from the truth.
Smiling and meaning it is not as easy as it may seem unless you’re just naturally happy most of the time. People can often spot an insincere smile, so if you’re going to flash your choppers make sure you mean it. The best way to accomplish this is to not over-think it or allow yourself to fall into patterns of obsequiousness. Be genuine, and let your smile reflect that.
It may be true that you are a private person and that’s okay, but a great way to achieve inclusiveness and gain trust in the workplace is to open up to people. Besides, people have a tendency to fill in the blanks when they don’t know something, so this way you can show people you’re a team player and nip rumors about the new gal (or guy) in the bud all at the same time.
It’s important to remember, however, that there is such a thing as too much sharing. A quick way to alienate new coworkers is to tell them about your recent ugly divorce or your love of feet. Just stick to topics that are generally understood as fair office game: hobbies, sports, past and current residences, favorite foods, etc.
To paraphrase a frequently-used film quote (thanks, Fight Club), people can tell when you’re just waiting for your turn to speak. What’s more, you’re doing yourself harm when you don’t make the effort to really get to know your coworkers.
Of course, listening is a skill that takes practice, but you don’t have to make any major changes in your life to be a better listener. Taking an active interest in what other people are telling you about their personal lives will endear you to them.
This may be the hardest thing to do, because you want to put your best foot forward at a new job and you already know kicking your feet up is not a good idea.
The thing is, neither is being a goose-stepping drone. It’s a weird and dirty little secret, but coworkers typically don’t take a liking to bootlicking overachievers who are the first to volunteer and the last to go home. Showing initiative is very important to your superiors, but showing your coworkers you can relax is also a winning move.
Every work environment is unique, but generally speaking people respond well to modesty. Looking at it another way, nobody likes a know-it-all. Taken to another level, people really don’t like know-it-alls who really don’t know it all.
If there’s something you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask. Sure, there may be a chance you’ll ask that one person who doesn’t follow the “There is no such thing as a stupid question” philosophy, but the odds are better that your quest for knowledge will get you closer to making a new friend.
All of these are great tips, but the most important thing is to be yourself. Faking it on the first day is like wearing a wig on a first date. It may go over great in the beginning, but somewhere along the line you’re going to have to reveal the real you, so you may as well own it from the get-go.
James Madeiros writes for Masters in Accounting, a career site providing information for prospective accounting students including scholarships, recommended resources, and student guides.
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Good luck in your search.
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