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New Employee Feels Awkward and Left Out

New Employee Feels Awkward and Left Out

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

A reader writes:

My new job is about two months old. In that time, I have discovered that I love the job and the people, yet I feel left out because everyone in the office has a history (wonderful and friendly interpersonal connections). When they laugh and reminiscence with stories, I’m not quite sure what to do. If I am busy, I become more engrossed in the involved tasks. If I am currently not working on a project, I find something to do. Echoing the earlier email from the shy manager, I am also a shy individual. Therefore, I am concerned that I am providing an impression that I have an outlook about life and a personality which is contrary to theirs, when I do not.

This dynamic when you start a new job and are surrounded by people who have a history together is hard if you’re someone who’s not naturally outgoing. It’s like being the new kid at school.

You don’t feel comfortable jumping into an existing group, so try forming relationships one-on-one. Is there anyone there who you feel more of a connection with? Ask that person to get lunch or coffee with you. If you feel shy about making an overtly social overture, frame it as, “Now that I’m settling in, I’d love to get lunch with you and pick your brain about (fill in work topic).” Most people are flattered to be seen as a resource. (And if there isn’t anyone there who you feel more of a connection with, ask whoever you work with most closely.)

Don’t be afraid to jump into group conversations, either. You say they reminisce with stories — people usually love telling these stories to someone who hasn’t heard them yet. You just need to indicate that you’d be interested, by saying something like, “That sounds funny. John got locked in the bathroom?”

And one more tip: If your office has someone who seems to have taken on the role of social director — someone who seems to arrange happy hours and lunches and so forth — and if that person seems nice, they’re a really good choice to be candid with. Tell them something like this: “I’m kind of shy but I’d love to get to know people here better.” This type will often take you under their wing if they know you’d welcome it.

What other suggestions do people have?

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