You’re probably pretty good at talking to friends, colleagues and even service people that you know only slightly. But what most people find really hard is striking up a conversation with a stranger. And when you start a new job, everyone is a stranger, right? Rather than hoping someone will discover you or just going about your business feeling isolated, how about learning some new ways to open a conversation and start the getting-to-know-you process?
The biggest problem is feeling so different from everyone there. THEY all look like they’re perfectly comfortable, chatting and kidding around, going out for lunch. So, expect to feel left out and a little lost and recognize that feeling. It’s O.K.! The secret is to screw up your courage to take the first step. Don’t wait for folks to notice you. People get pretty comfortable in their routines and can also be pretty self-involved. Therefore, the first step should come from you. I know, I know– you’re shy, you don’t want to intrude or be too pushy. Right. But taking action feels better than just feeling left out and a little sorry for yourself.
Here’s how to begin:
Focus on your colleagues. Watch how they behave at work. Who’s a talker? Who kids around? Who looks pleasant or has your style? Whom would you like to get to know a little better? After you make your initial assessments, go for the easiest route of starting a conversation —-ask a question. Either “Where is the whatever. I don’t know my way around just yet,” or “What’s the best place to have lunch around here?” This gets an answer, opens a dialogue and then you can move on to the next level.
It’s very appealing to let people in on the fact that you feel a little strange at this new job, and are reaching out to make connections. That gives people a great sense of power since you’re asking for their help. The more honest you can be, the more genuine you seem as a person. Don’t try acting smooth, like you know it all and this is no problem. That’s a real turnoff — not to mention less fun. So dare to tell the truth. “Listen, I’m new and don’t know a living soul here and I guess I’m feeling pretty left out –so I’m taking this step just to join the group. My name is etc.” Or find your own words. But the approach begins with telling the truth — you don’t know anyone and would like to. And, again, ask more questions! People love to talk about themselves, so find out first who they are, how long they’ve worked at the company, and what they do.
But you’ve got to take the first step. What have you got to lose? The wallflower championship?
Here’s your checklist:
- You’re right to feel left out — you don’t know anyone.
- Taking action is better than feeling bad and sorry for yourself.
- Focus on others and ask questions.
- Tell the truth — people respond!