Congratulations! You landed your first job and are excited to work with a professional group. The days of cliques, bullies and egoists so prevalent in schools are over, right? Not so fast. Welcome to the real world.
Think of the challenging social dynamics at school as a dress rehearsal for the workplace, except that in business the stakes are higher. Teamwork is the mantra of most companies and enterprise social media appears to be the next wave of collaborative work. These principles are often incorporated into performance reviews, and factored into candidate selections for promotions and special projects. Therefore, workplace socialization is more than about making friends. It is necessary for survival. Success demonstrates your ability to adapt communication styles, work collectively and influence others. Here are a few examples of personalities you may encounter and suggested approaches to manage the interaction.
Some people are outright belligerent. Try not to take it personally and internalize their angst as it most likely has nothing to do with you. If you can detect their pain point and are able to help in some way, that may resolve the issue. In the meantime, act respectfully and avoid being defensive. Eventually they should follow suit.
Outgoing social butterflies can be a distraction. If the individual is someone you like, suggest lunch or happy hour socializing, but discourage excessive chitchat during the workday. Perception is everything and even if you manage to get your work done, watchful eyes may have a different view.
There will be employees who are negative about almost everything. Although you may concur on certain topics, it is best not to get entangled. Negativity can be contagious and there is also the risk of guilt by association. Play devil’s advocate and put a positive spin on the subject scenarios. The ability to influence another’s view will work in your favor in many ways.
In short, being respectful, avoiding distraction and staying positive are contributing factors to playing nicely in the company sandbox. To read more examples of personality types and coexistence strategies, see 5 Different Workplace Types.