Workplace Conversation Doesn’t Have to Be Awkward – Use These Tips!

Stepping into a new office can spark flashbacks to the first day of junior high. You’re back in the cafeteria, holding your tray, not sure where you’re supposed to sit.

After all, starting a new job can be tough enough – getting used to a new boss, a new organization and a new job description – without adding the social aspect onto it. Getting to know your co-workers can stir up anxiety in even the most confident person.

This can prove particularly difficult when you come into a situation as a temp. You’re moving in and out of jobs, making people reluctant to get too close because you might not stay long. It adds an extra layer of complication to an already difficult situation.

But these workplace encounters don’t have to be awkward. Coming into a new office is an opportunity to make new friends and fresh professional contacts, even for a temp. Here are a few tips to help build relationships in the office more quickly:

Introduce Yourself

Breaking the ice goes a long way in removing that who-are-you-again awkwardness next time around. The goal here isn’t to start a real conversation per se. Instead, you want to make it easier the next time you see the person. You’re taking the first step in turning random strangers into the opportunity for more meaningful interactions down the line.

Keep It Short (During Working Hours)

In stand-up comedy, it’s known as a “tight five.” Comedians practice a set of their best material, a quick five minutes of sheer entertainment. Keep the same principle in mind for your workplace conversation.

People want the workplace to be friendly. But they also have work to do. When you hit happy hour, feel free to chat until they announce last call. But at the office, don’t get a reputation as a time-waster and you’ll go a long way in making a good impression.

Find Common Ground

Everyone has hobbies, passions and outside interests. Get them talking about these topics and you’re golden. The trick is finding out the secret subjects. Latch on to moments when the person you’re talking to gets excited about a subject (a sports team, a hobby, a genre of movie, whatever) and do what you can to keep them going. Make sure to listen and ask plenty of follow-up questions.

Stay Away From Sensitive Topics

Best friends can talk about anything. That’s less true with work friends. If you end up building a long-term relationship outside of the office, you can open up about things like politics and religion. In the office, though, best to keep the topics light and free of controversy.

Be Ready to Say “Yes”

Find ways to get involved in the office social life. The first step in this process is being willing to participate. In short: find ways to say “yes.”

If someone needs a favor, do what you can to say “yes.” If co-workers invite you bowling, say “yes” (even if you hate bowling). If they’re putting together a team for a new project, say “yes.” Creating opportunities to interact with people and make yourself useful will lead to stronger relationships over the long term.

Working in an office with good people makes the process of talking to co-workers easier. Good companies are made up of good people. How do you find the best companies? Try using a staffing firm.

LaborMAX can help find you the perfect position – a place where you’re comfortable and happy. Contact us today to find out more.