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Understanding co-worker interactions in the workplace


As a new employee starting in a job for the first time, or even a seasoned employee transferring from one department to another, one of the hardest things to learn in the workplace is the fact that every person reacts differently to social interaction. While some people may seem like social butterflies, others want limited to no contact and to simply be left alone to do their work. Since there is no way of knowing how each person will react when engaging with them, below are a few suggestions to follow upon arriving into the new environment.

  1. Take the time to just sit back and observe the inter-workings of the department or job. Getting to know the surroundings takes time. Watch closely as each person acts or reacts to a given situation with one person or another. This will provide valuable information on how to work within the boundaries of each person’s comfort zone of social interaction.
  2. Don’t rock the boat! This is always a bad maneuver and will inevitably cause problems. It’s quite possible that some of the department members have been working together for years and may find difficulty in letting go of the duties they once had. Just be quiet for the time being and do things the way they’ve always been done until others get comfortable with the situation.
  3. Concentrate on learning the duties of requirements of the position. Everything is new and exciting right now so the best thing to do is to learn what needs to be done and then do it really well. Once those job duties are mastered then suggest making some changes.
  4. Whenever possible, communicate succinctly and honestly as possible in all conversations with co-workers. Speaking in this fashion will earn the respect of others and will show them just how much the new member of the team values their time.
  5. Above all else, don’t take sides in any internal disputes or bad feelings. Feeding off of negative energy will only perpetuate the problems and disrupt the workflow. Being sympathetic and perhaps offering a shoulder to cry on is one thing, but adding “fuel to the fire” will not resolve anything.

If none of these things work, then perhaps a team buildingexercise will. For a unique spin on the concept, contactSan Francisco Treasure Hunts, located at 912 Cole Street, San Francisco, CA 94117. Just as their name states, they offer genuine treasure hunt programs that focuses on the team working together to solve the clues of intellectually challenging puzzles that cannot be solved by a single member. For more information, call            (415) 664-3900       or visit their website.

Truthfully, sometimes it takes years for a department to work in sync and to understand each member’s quirks and foibles. Rather than railroading one’s own personality into the mix and expecting everyone to be engaging, take the time to learn about each other. One person’s inability to be socially interactive could be for a number of reasons including shyness, depression or perhaps a cultural barrier. Regardless of the reason, never force a relationship with anyone but rather, work within the boundaries set by them until they feel more comfortable.

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