There is nothing worse when starting a new job than feeling like you’re on the outside looking in. Walking up to a group of people chatting away happily only to have them fall silent when they notice you are a feeling nobody wants to experience. The good news is this doesn’t have to be you.
Starting a new job and finding yourself in a new environment with a whole new set of people can be difficult, but we’re here to help!
In this article we’ll cover:
So how should you go about adjusting to a new workplace and fitting in with a fresh set of colleagues? Well, in short, DBLD - don’t be like Dwight. Whenever you find yourself starting a new job, or meeting a new colleague, just ask yourself ‘What would Dwight Schrute do?’ and then proceed to do the opposite. If you’ve never seen the Office (what are you waiting for?), then just imagine a grumpy, narcissistic man with little common sense and no social skills and then try to do the opposite of what they would do.
There is no single magic rule for fitting in. Adapting to any social situation is the result of a combination of small factors that add up to shape the perception of those around you.
With that in mind, we’re here to lay out some simple rules and tips to help you adjust to your new environment. With our help, you’ll fearlessly find yourself fitting into any new workplace or team that could be thrown at you.
Ready? Let’s do it.
Before we get into the day-to-day tips once you start a new job, it’s important to first establish a set of overarching rules that will guide you in any new social situation. These are:
If you’re able to understand and master these three simple rules, then everything else will be easy.
The first, and most important, thing you need to do before starting a new job is to know yourself. There’s a difference between adapting your behaviour to your environment and changing who you are to fit in. The only way you can successfully adapt without compromising who you are is to know yourself.
This means knowing what motivates you (and what doesn’t), what your strengths and weaknesses are, what your working style is, the kinds of personality traits you’re drawn to and those you’re turned off by and what kinds of behaviours or topics make you angry or upset.
If you know all of that, then you’re laughing. By knowing yourself in this way you’ll be able to then observe your environment and identify which situations to jump into and which to avoid, which parts of your personality to emphasise, and how to slice yourself off a piece of the social dynamic pie of your new workplace.
Observation skills are handy in all kinds of situations, and they are crucial for finding your way in a new office. Keep your eyes and ears open during your first week to learn how people interact with each other, what’s appropriate and what’s not when it comes to banter and workplace conversations, who hangs out with who, and what everyone else’s work styles are like. It’s important to identify where your common ground lies and what differences you have with your co-workers.
Once you've surveyed the land, it's time to adapt. This doesn’t mean you should be radically changing anything about yourself or your behaviour, but making slight adjustments to account for differences in working styles and personalities, and to match the social dynamic.
Every workplace is different, but with these three rules under your belt, you’ll be well on your way to adjusting to your new environment.
Read on as we share some of our pro tips that you can use to help with the adaptation stage.
It may seem unimportant, but coffee carries a mountain of social capital in the workplace. Work relationships are often built around going for a coffee run as it allows you to get to know your new co-workers by chatting to them in a more casual environment. Saying yes to something as simple as a coffee (or a drink) invitation will also set the tone for your colleagues’ expectations of you. You don’t want people at work to expect you to say no to things before they’ve even asked you – they may start to expect the same when it comes to actual work related things. Before you know it, you’ll stop being included in work projects AND social events. Though it’s important to accept invitations from your co-workers, you should never feel like you have to do anything you don’t want to do just to fit in.
While it’s important to get involved and accept your colleagues’ invitations for coffee or drinks, make sure you also maintain your social life and hobbies outside of work. You don’t want to fall into the trap of seeming too desperate to fit in. Make sure not to neglect your friends and family so you don’t find yourself being too reliant on those at work to fulfil your social life.
Whenever you meet anyone at work, try your best to take note of their name. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been told someone’s name only to have it instantly disappear from my memory. Every time this happens, my heart sinks a little because of how significant using someone’s name can be. It may seem like a small gesture, but if you’re able to greet someone using their name after only meeting them once, or even use it when you say goodbye after first meeting someone, they are far more likely to remember you in a positive light. It shows them that you cared and respected them enough to bother to remember them and they will then want to return the favour.
What you wear will make a big difference to your first impressions. If you don’t have clear instructions about what to wear on your first day, err on the side of being too formal. It’s better to look over-prepared than too casual. However, once you’ve gotten a look at your colleagues on your first day, make sure to adjust your work attire to match their level of formality. For more tips on what to wear to work, read our Work Wear article
It’s ok not to know everything when you first start a new role. Everyone has been or will be in that same position. It’s much better to ask questions and be honest about things you don’t understand than to run headfirst into messing things up that you could have avoided. Asking questions also shows that you’re interested in the work and in the people around you which will make both your boss and your co-workers happy!
There is no single rule for adapting to a new workplace, but if you follow our three simple rules and apply some of our pro tips you’ll be fitting in and thriving in no time.
Stay tuned for upcoming topics or check out our other useful articles here. We’ve got plenty more gold to help you make the leap from top students to top professionals!
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