From Our Readers
May 11, 2015 6:00 am

So, here you are. You’ve jumped through all the hoops, aced all the tests, given all the right answers, and landed that great job. Well done you! You’re feeling great, at the top of your game, and then up pops the reality of your upcoming first day at the office, smacking you in the forehead like it’s offering you a V8. Ouch.

Suddenly, you’re transported back to the awkward, pimply, teenaged you on your first day of high school: What will I wear? What will the people be like? Will I get lost on my way to the photocopier? What have I gotten myself into? Can I do this? Yes, you can do this! While learning a whole new system and/or set of tasks carries its own set of worries, the social environment in the workplace can sometimes make or break your level of comfort and job satisfaction. I’ve put together the following list to help ease the stress of the first few days on the job and have you feeling like one of the gang in no time.

Your new officemates are just as nervous about you as you are about them

No wait, that’s spiders. But you know what I mean. Feeling nervous about meeting new people is completely natural, and chances are your new coworkers are feeling a bit nervous about meeting you also, and a new dynamic. Keep in mind that not only are you meeting new people today, but your coworkers are also meeting someone new. But get this: Unlike spiders, they’re probably very nice and won’t flit around in your peripheral vision just to freak you out. You could be meeting some of your future besties that day. Go in with an open heart, and remember that it was the first day for every one of your officemates once too.

Make a great first impression

Now I know it sounds cliché, but a good first impression sets the tone for your working relationship with your coworkers. Do what you can to look and feel your best so that you feel confident and ready to carpe that diem! Your goal here is to look professional and approachable. Pay attention to your body language: sometimes feeling anxious or nervous can translate into looking closed off and unfriendly. Keep an open posture, make eye contact, and don’t forget to smile. Like Annie says, you’re never fully dressed without a smile!

Make the first move

Get out there and meet people. You’re not at the zoo; it’s okay to interact with the animals. Go introduce yourself to your new colleagues, and strike up a conversation. Break the ice with something as simple as asking what they do and how long they’ve been there, or commenting on their cool moustache coffee mug. Not only will this make you appear sociable and approachable, it will also take the pressure off your coworkers, which they’ll appreciate.

Dine with them, or go out to drinks.

Lunch hour is the main social event in your work day. Be flexible, and roll with the punches. In order to make you feel welcome, your coworkers will likely invite you to dine with them. This is your chance to get to know them on a personal level. If they stay onsite, join them. If they go out to eat, suggest that quaint little sushi place down the street. You may prefer to go home for lunch or spend the hour reading in the park, but for the first few days, accept their lunch invitation. And if there’s an office happy hour, go ahead and join in. It’s good to get to know your officemates a little bit when there aren’t computer monitors between you.

Don’t give up! 

It may take a while to get to know your coworkers; the transition from strangers to work besties doesn’t happen overnight. Occasionally, though, you’ll click with somebody right off the bat; they’ll take you under their wing, show you where to get the best coffee in the building, even hook you up to the special wifi that only the managers have access to (take that, I.T.).

Be yourself

After all, you were hand picked for this job. This is where you belong, so enjoy it and let yourself shine.

Melissa Paulin is equal parts clever, creative, alliterative, blonde and glitter. This quirky, twenty-something psychology graduate believes that friends, laughter, nail polish, and pizza are the keys to life. When she’s not working or throwing impromptu dance parties, she can be found daydreaming, singing in her car, cracking jokes on Twitter (@mel_pollen) or posting nail pics on Instagram (@betweencoats).

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