It’s day one. You walk into the workplace, nervous and a little scared. There’s the secretary’s desk on the left and your bosses office on the right next to your cubicle. Across from your desk is the desk of an office assistant who seems friendly, but with work to do and knowing no one, it is a little overwhelming and you don’t quite know how to break the ice.
For as long as new workplaces have existed, the fear and trepidation of starting off in a new job has come with it. Trying to get a groove in a new social circle that is distinctly different from any other one you’ve been in so far can be difficult. When you have to head to accounting to discuss budgeting or even simply sit down with your team for a staff meeting, it’s normal to be at a loss on how to break the ice.
Three years ago, I had just begun work at a publicity organization. My office manages 17 performing arts groups and so there is a lot happening in our small space. Walking into the office, I felt small and very disoriented. However, from this experience I’ve discovered 5 icebreaking skills that will make your transition into a new workplace smoother:
- Just Breathe
This should go without saying, but it doesn’t hurt to anyway. Stop, sit down at your desk, and breathe. It is okay to feel overwhelmed by the new… everything. Ignoring these feelings can only heighten your anxiety and nervousness about feeling a little left out. The best remedy to this is to sit at your desk and take deep breaths: In through your nose and out through your mouth. While you do it, acknowledge how you feel and what you are going through. Recognize that it is okay to be new and it is expected of you feel and act new. By doing this, you remove the stress to meet new people,
- Take initiative in meeting other people
Be proactive. While you may want to keep your head down and just get to work, this can heighten your feelings of anxiety and loneliness. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to your coworkers, even if it is as simple as exchanging each other’s name. Even just getting your foot in the door is a way to start a workplace relationship that will one day prove to be invaluable down the road.
There is no greater skill necessary to building raporte than to listen to the other person. You may be anxious to talk about yourself, what you do, and where you came from. However, letting the other person talk and showing them that you are actively invested in what they have to say and helps them to trust you and to feel appreciated, which in turn is good for you.
- Attend social events
The dreaded office party. Love them or hate them, you cannot ignore them. If there is a work mixer or an office party happening, consider going. First, someone has put thought and time into this and second, it is a fantastic way to break the ice with people you may not talk to on a normal basis. If you work in communications and people from Accounting are there,
- Give yourself Time
It took me one year to understand one of my coworkers. We hadn’t talked much and had remained professional. However, outside of that, we never fully understood each other and respectfully kept our distance. But, with an influx of new employees coming in leaving he and I as the last remaining long-term employees, we found it easier to talk about university, sports, and even one of the taboo subjects- politics. We have since become good friends.
Breaking the ice in a new workplace can seem stressful, but remember that a little goes a long way. Being a new employee can be hard, but these things can do a lot to ease the burden of coming into your new job.