Beyond The Boss

By Sharon Naylor

June 15, 2017 5 min read

Most adults spend more hours a day with their co-workers than anyone. When starting a new job, the first impression you make on your new co-workers can influence your success and overall fulfillment at the company. Being the new kid on the block can be both challenging and exciting. These tips will help you start off on the right foot.

*Dress Professionally

While everyone knows how important first impressions are, some might be surprised to know that people make a judgment about a person just seven seconds after meeting them, according to studies. Like it or not, physical appearance can affect this judgment.

In one article on the LiveCareers website, Drs. Randall S. Hansen and Katharine Hansen suggest dressing professionally, even on casual days at first, for you never know when you might be called over to meet a client or senior team member. Additionally, your dress is an indicator of the type of worker you are. Desiree Devaney, a financial analyst at GE Capital quoted in the article, says, "Perfectly groomed means efficient and reliable (in people's minds); unkempt means disorganized and therefore difficult to trust with different assignments."

Beyond that, your clothing is an opportunity to convey your personality. A statement piece like a pin, a unique handbag or a blazer with a pop of color can act as a natural conversation starter.

Dress polished and professional and the focus will be on the skills and experience you have to offer your new team.

*Engage With Nonverbals

The majority of our communication is nonverbal, which means part of your personal brand is how others feel around you. One Business Insider article by Jeremy Goldman Inc. puts smiling at the top of the list for professional introductions. Forty-eight percent of Americans think a smile is the most memorable feature when they meet someone, the article says. A natural smile, or even a small grin, can "make others feel more comfortable around you, but it also decreases stress hormones." So if you're nervous, flash a grin to take the edge off.

Also of importance are the right handshake and making eye contact. Both convey confidence and politeness. A handshake should be a careful balance between a tight squeeze and a limp fish. If you're not sure how yours compares, you could ask a trusted mentor to shake your hand and give their opinion. Jeremy Goldman Inc. notes that eye contact shows respect and a sense of interest in conversation; consequently, breaking eye contact can convey that you are distracted or nervous.

*Show an Interest

Dr. Marie G. McIntyre, author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics," believes that one-upmanship and one-sided conversation are sure to prevent comraderie. She says: "Instead of trying to impress new colleagues with your extensive experience or general brilliance, concentrate on learning more about them. People love talking about what they do, so take time to find out more about your coworkers' jobs. Ask them about their projects, tasks, accomplishments, and challenges."

Finding commonalities between you and your co-workers can help bolster a connection. Try asking about children, pets, hobbies, sports or travels. "But since you don't know them well," McIntyre says, "avoid hot button topics like politics or religion."

Though being inundated with so much information can be overwhelming, do the best you can to learn people's names quickly. Write down each person you meet, their job title and one detail you learned about them. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and attentiveness.

*Socialize

Even if you prefer the peace and quiet that eating lunch at your desk brings, join in when co-workers invite you to lunch, or ask if you can sit with them. Show that you're excited to get to know others and you'll likely be asked to participate in lunch outings or activities outside of work. Participate in group bonding activities like the office softball league or Friday happy hour.

Your goal of the first few weeks should be to stay positive and make the most of every situation. There's a natural adjustment period that comes with starting any new endeavor, so just remember to relax, get acclimated and stay on top of your responsibilities. You can make a positive and lasting impression, and maybe even create the possibility of new friendships.

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