Kids make friends everywhere they go. College students make friends just by sharing a dorm and sitting beside each other in class. Young adults get entry level jobs side-by-side with other young adults and they go on ski trips and take Zumba class together. But as we make the final transition into real grown-up-hood, the social world around us becomes less homogeneous and when it comes to making and keeping new friends, we’re on our own. If you’re stepping into a new workplace in the middle of your life, what can you do to establish yourself and start forming new connections? Try these tips.
Conversational Rules for New Employees
1. Be positive. Of course you feel positive on the inside– You’re making a fresh start and you’re happy and excited to be here. But make sure this shows in your speech. For the first week in your new position, make a conscious effort not to say one negative thing. Not about people, your old job, or even the weather. After the first week you can relax and reveal your blunt, forthcoming side, but wait for seven days. Call it the “first week challenge”.
2. Play it cool. Don’t force your company, your jokes, or your opinions on anyone just yet. Listen more than you speak for a little while, and you’ll learn about the backstories and ongoing drama that underlie the projects and relationships happening around you.
3. Ask questions, but do so diplomatically. If you have someone who’s willing to provide you with background and fill you in on the technical and political details that shape the workplace, appreciate this person (or people). Try to make the most of this resource without becoming a burden.
4. Make an active effort to stay relevant. When you see a movie, be ready to talk about it at work. Actually think about what you’ll say if and when the subject comes up. The same rule applies to current events and sports. When you speak about these topics, follow the rules above. Try to stay positive, don’t force your personality on anyone, and keep your remarks from going on too long and becoming speeches or rants.
5. Look for ways to make your presence a welcoming sight to others. Help people who are doing things (from moving boxes to cleaning the breakroom). In conversation, protect people from embarrassment and help them look good in front of those they hope to impress. Try to steer clear of sour apples, negative types, and jerks. These might be complex and interesting people under the surface, but find this out during your second or third week, not your first.
For more on how to polish your image and start your professional relationships off on the right foot, reach out the staffing experts at PSU.