Before I started working, I thought being in an office would be a bit like being in class at university – you didn’t like everyone in your class but somehow you all got along. I was pretty wrong there. While in class you can mostly ignore people you can’t stand, in an office, you sometimes have to work with those people. It can be a nightmare. And it turns out that even if you’ve never done anything bad to some people, they seem to go out of their way to try to make your life miserable. So it turns out that you need different social skills in the office from the ones you had at school.
When you get into a new work environment (whether it’s your first job or your first time in a new office) it’s important to be calm and study the people around you first of all. You need to be nice and appear approachable but also realise that not everyone who appears friendly has your best interests at heart.
In any work environment, you need to understand your place in the system – this has little to do with your job description. Ask yourself how important you and your role are in the business. Is your job one that can easily be done without? Can you easily be replaced? Once again, this has nothing to do with your job description. You might be entry-level in an organisation but are so sharp, hard-working and liked that everyone wants you on their team.
Ultimately, the best way to get along with people in the workplace is to be nice. Be nice to everyone from the security staff and receptionists to your boss and the CEO. I always insert a caveat when I talk about niceness. Being nice does not mean being a doormat. It means doing things to help others when you can and taking interest in people. Ask them about their lives and remember details about them such as their birthdays or the names of their kids. Be kind. The benefit of all this is that if ever you’re in trouble (and this will happen from time to time, you’re not a saint after all), people will stand up for you even without you knowing it. But you’re not being nice because of what you stand to gain from it. You’re doing it because it’s the decent thing to do.
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