Tips for getting along at your new job
So you’ve just started a new job. As expected, it’s not much short of nerve-wracking, just South of awkward and around the corner from overwhelming. Nearly everyone experiences anxiety in the same or similar situations. Always remember the wise phrase, “This too, shall pass”. After all, unless you demonstrate some sort of ill-behavior that facilitates your premature release, all of your worries should eventually subside. You’ll likely always have to deal with office politics however, but if you handle them properly, you can come out ahead. Let’s look at the best ways for you to get along with everyone and ensure employment that is not threatened by bad intentions of coworkers.
When you start any job, the first thing you must do is be respectful of everyone. You may meet the odd coworker who seems unfriendly or ‘turned off’ by you, but it doesn’t matter. Kill them with kindness. There’s no need to overdo it, just be respectful at all times. They were there before your arrival and may simply feel protective – of their workplace or even their own jobs. Unless you’re brought in to straighten things out because of your proven knowledge in a specific area, don’t come off like a know-it-all. When you start any job you are there to learn. Other than asking questions you should otherwise remain mostly silent.
Let’s say you overhear your coworkers engaging in a conversation that is in fact, too racy to be had in a professional setting. You have definite opinions regarding the topic that may even be in agreement with what you are overhearing. It would be hard not to be tempted to participate – but resist that urge. Not everyone everywhere is going to be on the same page as you and your like-minded coworkers. And how bad would it be for you if you thought bonding with a certain coworker was a good thing, only to discover that his opinions have actually made him unpopular with the people in immediate authority? You’d prematurely establish a bit of a bad reputation for yourself. Not enough can be said about appearing neutral and remaining silent. You see what politics are doing to people these days. Keep that crap at home! And it goes without saying, if you hear talk of an obviously sexual or racial nature – STEER CLEAR! Unless your job is related to such conversation, focus on doing what you were hired for – your job. There’s no easier way to make enemies than to express certain ideas to the wrong ears.
Be prepared, your boss may take you around to meet the folks in the office. Be sure you are properly groomed on your first day (and every day thereafter!). Smile politely, and if you are offered a hand to shake, be careful not to grip too tightly (it could be seen as an act of aggression). That doesn’t mean you should squeeze hard, just let ‘em know you are someone who commands respect with a firm handshake.
Ah, so you’ve spotted that person. It didn’t take long. The one you’ll find in every workplace environment you’ll ever have. In other words, the one that just does not like you. You say, “Hi!”, they mumble in response, if they respond at all. They say goodnight to everyone – except you. You don’t need an explanation; just ignore them until business dictates otherwise. But most importantly, don’t take it personally. This person does not know you that way. Whatever issues they have with you are theirs alone. As long as they keep their problems to themselves just keep it business as usual. If they start affecting your ability to do your job, maybe by gossiping about or criticizing you, then you have a delicate situation to handle. Just let your boss know that your priority is to do your job as well and efficiently as possible.
Obviously, you don’t want to be on the initiating end of gossip, either. As enticing as it may be, exclude yourself from all such conversations. You’re the newbie, and you only get one chance to make a great impression. Once you’ve figured out the hierarchy and established your value you may want to branch out a bit, make friends and have fun. No matter how well accepted you may feel stay on guard while maintaining general (and hopefully sincere) respect of all coworkers.
As long as you practice good office etiquette you’ll do fine. Remember, no one has probably ever seriously offended anybody with silence. Don’t take sides and concentrate on your tasks at hand. Let the haters hate, ignore them. Just do a good job. If you can remain politic-free while proving your competence you will emerge as someone worthy of respect – and greater things!