Information about your new company imprinted in your brain? Check. Your lucky pen in your bag? Check. Professional yet approachable new outfit? Check. Looks like you’re all set for your first day at your new work! Not so fast…
There are so many articles out there that talk about how to get ready for your first day of work and give examples of how to deal with your new boss or adjusting to your new workload. This is not one of those. What I’m going to talk about is how to make new friends at your new workplace.
It’s clear how being friends with your co-workers generally make your work easier: You spend a huge part of your working hours during the workday with them and are involved in the same kind of work and environment with them. Yet many of us haven’t mastered the art of turning professional relationships into personal friendships.
Here are some tips to help you make it happen from day one:
1. Smile. A lot.
There really is no other accessory that attracts new friends more than a smile. Think about it: aren’t you more likely to approach someone who is smiling over someone who is not? It goes the other way around too, you know. Your new co-workers will be more compelled to talk to you if you send positive vibes their way. Smiling gives off the impression that you are approachable, friendly, and sincere. So show off those pearly white whenever you are introduced to someone new.
2. …but not too much
Did I mention the importance of sincerity? Yes, you may smile a lot but if your smile is forced, you will come off as insincere. It’s about actually feeling positivity toward those around you, not just pretending against your will. Let me help you with an illustration:
Sincerity is a huge factor when dealing with people, whether as friends, co-workers, or mere acquaintances. If your smile (or anything about you, really) isn’t sincere, then you will probably have a hard time making those new friends in your new workplace. Think about it: When you start working at a new office, which coworkers are you immediately drawn to? It’s those who seem genuinely friendly and happy to see you. Be that person for them, too.
Don’t be too shy.
It is easier said than done, I admit. If you are naturally shy then you are not going to stop being shy just because I told you not to be. There is, however, a tried and tested method that I have always found successful: fake it until you make it.
I have always been a shy person but people I work with don’t think that I am. This is because I am always the first one to approach them and introduce myself. I just take a deep breath, smile (see tip #1), and say hello. They rarely notice the butterflies fluttering in my stomach.
3. Remember that this isn’t high school
…Which means that you are not a teenager with insecurities. You might be an adult with insecurities but the key word there is adult. You can avoid the trap of cliques or groups in the workplace by breaking those social barriers early on. Be the first to approach people in different groups. Start with a simple “how are you doing?” or even invite yourself to join them for lunch by asking “what do you usually do for lunch?” We’re all adults, so no one is going to shun you just because. It’s important to try this early on, when people are most accepting and willing to get to know you.
4. The classic: just be yourself
It’s a classic for a reason. (Several reasons, actually.) Number one is that it is very, very difficult to maintain a different persona. Believe me, I know someone who keeps suppressing his true personality at work and people ended up avoiding him because he seemed “shady.” Like I said earlier, people can generally feel when you are not being sincere.
The second reason is that you should be comfortable when you’re working and you will not be comfortable when you’re trying to put up a farce personality. This is different from wanting to improve at things like being outgoing (like in step 3). You can be open and honest about those kinds of changes, but if you’re hiding a part of yourself others will feel it. Instead, embrace yourself to the fullest degree and give your co-workers the chance to like you just as you are.
You can learn more about Yohana and follow her on Twitter @YohanaPetrovic.