Being the New Kid is Hard: 8 Tips for Relationship Building at Work
You went through the interview process, passed the initial meetings with various higher-ups and officially scored your dream job! You did it. After all of your ambition, you’re finally in. Although the hard part might appear to be over, the reality is you’re far from it. Now you have to make friends with all of your intimidating co-workers, not to mention figure out how to stay on your boss’ good side. It’s like the dreaded high school hallways all over again, and it’s can be just as ego crushing as it was then.
But don’t despair! Here are a few tips and tricks for scoring lasting friendships with your colleagues. After all, the more you like your co-workers, the more you’ll like your job.
1. Don’t be overly familiar
An important lesson in life is to never be afraid of showing your vulnerabilities. It demonstrates that you are comfortable with yourself, live in a fairly normal state of self-awareness, and generally understand social norms. Therefore, it’s more than okay not to run up and hug everyone you meet on your first day. Not to mention, being overly familiar is very off putting to the people who have worked at the company for years. They’ve earned their familiarity. You have not.
2. Be open to constructive criticism
Expect to make mistakes the first several weeks at your new job. That’s acceptable for anyone, and even the sharpest individuals experience a learning curve at some point in their career. If/when people give you notes, never get defensive, but instead stay open-minded and accept the advice. Your co-workers are only there to help you, and you can learn from them much more quickly than trying to go it alone.
3. Be willing to help with anything
As a new employee, this is the time to prove yourself as an asset to everyone you work with. Everyone respects and appreciates a helpful hand. If you notice a piece of trash or a simple spill, be the first to clean up the mess. You’re showing your new co-workers that you are a team player and a thoughtful person. Don’t ever be too good for any task, even if it’s helping the receptionist grab that extra coffee mug off the counter. You’ll look considerate, and you might even make your first new friend from it.
4. Keep things to yourself
Although it’s unnerving to recognize this, people judge new employees. They want to really know the person they’ll be spending almost every day with for the next year or decade. As that new employee, be careful about what you are saying and to whom. You could potentially come across as offensive, nosy, or a gossip, and the last thing you want is to start off by making enemies or give the impression that you can’t be trusted. Stay quiet and learn about others first. If you’re feeling frustrated or worn down from the job, keep it to yourself. It’s your responsibility to prove your worth and strength. Take your frustrations outside of the office and bring them to your friends and family.
Similarly, there’s no need to reveal intimate details about your personal life to everyone you cross paths with. Just as you need to earn the trust of your co-workers, you need to give them a chance to earn a glimpse into your non-work life. Keep the details of your complicated relationship with your sister on the DL.
5. Treat everyone with equal respect
Most of us are trying our absolute best to climb the career ladder quickly. Trust me, you will not get there any faster by sucking up to the CEO and treating her/his assistant horribly. It will make you appear deceitful and untrustworthy. A great company is a fine tuned machine; everyone keeps it running smoothly, from the janitor to the executive.
6. Get outside of your comfort zone
It may feel intimidating and awkward, but be sure to take the initiative to introduce yourself to new faces and strike up friendly conversation. This is the very best way to make friends at work and to quickly become a familiar face. Compliment your co-worker’s fashionable tie, stylish jacket or new haircut. They may seem a little uncomfortable at first but they’ll remember you in a positive light.
Also, pay attention to activities going on outside of work. If someone extends a mass invitation to grab a drink after closing time on Friday, don’t be shy about stopping by. You might find you’re more comfortable getting to know your co-workers without the stress of being in the office.
7. No phones!
This is one of the most important tips, and I can’t stress it enough: put the phone down! If you’re still learning the ropes and an authority figure notices you’re texting, it may leave a negative impression of you in their minds. Your texts and Instagram can wait until your break. If you have a real emergency, simply explain it to your supervisor and step out for the call.
More importantly, you want to be as present as possible to form new relationships – people on their phones are not approachable. In today’s world, it’s easy to hide behind our phones in situations where we feel awkward or uncomfortable. Instead of sitting in the corner with your eyes glued to your phone at lunch, slip the phone in your pocket, take a deep breath, and join a group of colleagues.
It may sound silly, but smiling is one of the easiest ways to illustrate that you’re an approachable and friendly person. This is always an easy way to make new friends and promote positivity in the office. Also, smiling will make you feel more confident and comfortable. Don’t smile too much though. You don’t want to creep anyone out.