It’s easy to assume landing that dream job will be a huge load off your shoulders because the stress of the job hunt will finally end.
Then you show up to work on your first day, look around your new office, sit at your desk and see a little memo entitled “Workplace Etiquette” containing detailed instructions on cleaning your coffee mug, carpool signups and something called “Wacky Tie Friday.”
That’s when you realize you’ve just become part of a workplace community and, unless you happen to be the most affable person around, it’s going to take some getting used to.
Most people forget this crucial first step: introducing yourself. Some co-workers will make that first step themselves, but people are busy and you may walk into a seemingly frosty environment. You don’t need to go through every floor of a 20-storey building or add the janitor to your Facebook page, but you should at least make a quick introduction to everyone working around you. That might be a team of seven or eight people, or it could just include the one other person in the room.
It’s important to be friendly, but it’s also important to know when to be social. Breaks and lunch are great times to get to know people, not when someone is hunched over a computer working on a huge deadline.
You may find yourself in workplace where you’re much younger than everyone else. The generation gap probably means your clever pop culture references will fall flat, but as long as you take the time to get to know someone, you’ll probably find some way to connect.
At the very least, civility and courtesy are what you should be offering to everyone. You might also find yourself as the lone man or woman amongst co-workers of a different gender. This might make you feel a bit odd as well, but as always, a friendly face will probably be welcomed.
Similar interests are a great way to bond and the most common one you’ll have with these people is the workplace. Things like the commute or quirky clients are great ways to engage in some small talk.
It may seem odd to try so hard to get along with co-workers and you probably don’t need to develop any sort of special friendship, but when working with a team, chemistry is incredibly important. You’ll find your performance will increase if you’re working with people you actually enjoy spending time with and not just people you tolerate throughout the day.
And besides, when the day arrives, no one will make fun of your wacky tie behind your back.