New Job? Start Off on the Right Foot With Your Coworkers

fitting in at new job

Starting a new job is always exciting – but it can also be stressful. It’s normal to feel nervous about how well you’ll perform your new duties. It’s likewise easy to get overwhelmed by all the new processes and procedures you need to learn.

And on top of that, there’s another thing to worry about: getting along with your coworkers. Whether you do or don’t can mean the difference between loving your job and dreading it.

Obviously, it’s important to be friendly and professional with everyone from day one. But when can you show more of your personality? And what’s the best way to forge office friendships and offer your opinions? Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way:

Begin by observing.

In some offices, it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about the time your dog threw up all over the living room rug when a first-time babysitter was watching your kids. In more formal workplaces, however, telling that same story could be considered oversharing. Also, the office culture in some places allows for (or even requires) a good deal of friendly chitchat, while in others, coworkers mainly keep to themselves and rarely socialize with each other.

That’s why it’s always smart to listen more than you talk during your first few weeks on the job. By taking the time to observe how your coworkers interact, you’ll get a better sense of what’s appropriate in your new workplace – and, more important, what’s not.

Make work friendships the right way.

It’s important to have friends at work. Maintaining close bonds with colleagues often leads to a good deal of job satisfaction and can make you more productive and effective in your role. Just make sure you’re forging those friendships in a way that’s not going to come back to hurt you.

In other words: It can be tempting to try to find your way into an office clique by contributing to the water cooler gossip or complaining about other coworkers. But in the end, the colleagues who like you for the rumors you add to the mill aren’t the kind you want. Instead, keep your eyes open in your first month on the job for people you share interests with – maybe you both love travel, or paddleboarding, or the Dodgers. Ask those people out to lunch or coffee, and get to know them better. Who knows? You may end up becoming lifelong friends.

Be diplomatic when voicing your opinions about work matters.

When you’re the new accountant on the block, you have to be extra careful that any criticism you voice is constructive, or you could quickly end up with a reputation for being a negative faultfinder – and that can be hard to shake. You don’t have to be a Pollyanna, but you should try to provide a solution for any problem you bring up. That way, your colleagues will see you as helpful and supportive, rather than simply critical, when you offer your opinions about projects and procedures.

Moreover, make sure you don’t inadvertently imply that your former workplace was better than your current job. For instance, rather than saying, “At my last job, our financial reporting was completely cloud-based,” try “Do you think it would be beneficial to consider shifting financial reporting to the cloud?” You increase your odds of a favorable reception and decrease the odds of offending new colleagues.

But always keep your thoughts about certain things to yourself.

Your mother’s rule for dinner party conversation – never bring up politics or religion – can be even more important in the workplace. People’s passions run high when it comes to these two subjects, making them more sensitive to what they perceive as criticism, whether you meant it that way or not.

In fact, even discussions that start out friendly can escalate into heated arguments. And not only will those kinds of fights cause rifts between you and your colleagues, but they can also lead to an uncomfortable meeting with your manager, who will surely find such behavior unprofessional.

You have enough to think about when starting a new job. Keep these tips in mind, and getting to know your new coworkers will go more smoothly – meaning you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

Do you have any tips for starting a new job? Share them in the comments section below.