You’ve recently landed your dream job and want to make a great first impression on your boss and all your co-workers. It sounds like a few solid ice breakers are in order. But hang on. This is a situation that needs to be handled very delicately or else you’re going to have a hell of a time getting through the rest of the year. Say or do the wrong thing and instead of making friends, you’ll be a laughing stock. Worse, you could become an outcast. You know that person who always seems to have the ‘kick me’ sign taped to their back? That could be you, especially if you engage in any of the following behaviors during your first few days. What follows are the 10 worst ice breakers when starting a new job. Avoid them at all costs and you just might come away with a friend or two by your second week.
1. Getting Too Personal
School children are encouraged to walk up to a new person and talk about themselves. “I like dogs,” was a good ice breaker when making new friends in the second grade. But this is terrible advice when you’re old enough to know better. Walking up to a co-worker on your first day and babbling about yourself is a good way to get people to avoid you. No one cares about you and your model airplane hobby or how you can touch your toes in yoga class. Just keep to yourself and do your work, but not too well as the next point will reveal.
2. Being Too Good At Your Job
Everyone thinks that they’re supposed to hit the ground running on their first day. ‘Put your nose to the grindstone’ an experienced person might tell you. This is terrible advice. You know why? Because people that have been there for a long time are slacking off, and they expect you to do the same. If you work too hard, and you’re overly good at your job, you’re going to ‘show up’ everyone else. And that’s a good way to find yourself sitting alone at lunch time, just like in ninth grade.
The solution is to do just enough to get by. That’s how popular people handle their first day. So ask yourself – do you want friends at work or do you actually want a career? If you said a career, prepare to be friendless for as long as it lasts.
3. Not Engaging in Gossip
On your first day of work, the inevitable is bound to happen: you’re going to be approached by the busy-body who is going to engage you in the latest office gossip. Your first inclination might be to decline getting involved. Oh, I don’t want to talk badly about anyone at work, is usually how that conversation begins. The moment you utter those words will be the death of your office social life.
The solution is to engage in gossip. Do talk about the office dork. So and so smells? Let your voice be heard, just don’t let it be heard by the person who actually does have a body odor problem. If you don’t engage in office gossip, everyone’s going to think that you’re a goodie-two-shoes who can’t be trusted with the latest scuttlebutt. You won’t be invited to the water cooler, and you certainly won’t be invited to happy hour after work. If you want to remain friendless, keep to yourself. But if you want friends at work, it’s time to point someone out and talk sh*t about them. In fact, your office social life depends on it.
4. Not Talking About the Boss
Everyone smiles to the boss’s face. But as soon as the boss leaves, that’s when exasperated sighs and various gossip about the head honcho is bound to come out. Just like the previous point, your first thought might be to decline talking about the boss and to toe the line. Are you crazy?
The moment the boss leaves the room, on your first day you should be the first one to talk about how badly your superior dresses. How awful he or she smells. And most importantly, you should definitely discuss how idiotic the person is and how nepotism or sleeping to the top must have been the answer to how that job was secured in the first place. Everyone will love you for it, and you’ll most certainly be invited to lunch on your first day. Score!
5. Giving the Boss Gifts
You know that kid that was always giving the teacher an apple in school. Yeah, you definitely don’t want to be that person all grown up. Give the boss gifts and you’ll likely be branded a kiss ass. Even if your boss intones that it would be greatly appreciated if you bought him or her a favorite bottle of wine or tickets to the next Mav’s game, don’t give into temptation. Treat your boss like he or she deserves to be treated – someone who signs your paychecks and that’s it. Gifts are for friends, and anyone who can fire you on a whim is definitely not one of those.
6. Wearing Goofy Clothes
You might think that a good way to get in with your coworkers is to wear some outlandish shoes or a gaudy shirt. You know what we call those people? Try-hards. If you want to get in good with your co-workers, show up like everyone else – wear stylish but not too stylish clothing and try to blend in. The people who stand out get talked about and definitely don’t get invited to happy hour or even the water cooler for a little gossip-about-the-boss chit-chat.
7. Being a Know-It-All
You know how to solve the latest problem the boss wants everyone to solve? Keep it to yourself. Raising your hand in a meeting to let everyone know that you’re smarter than all of them is a good way to find yourself without friends and possibly out of a job. Even your boss doesn’t want to be upstaged. The lesson is to keep your ideas to yourself at all cost. And if you must reveal that you know how to solve a pressing problem, do it anonymously via the suggestion box. Make everyone think it’s the janitor who’s the true genius ala Goodwill Hunting.
8. Acting Like The Boss’s Pet
If the boss asks you to work over the weekend or take on extra work, tell the boss you’re busy. It’s also helpful to skip out a few minutes every day so that you’re not cornered and pressured into giving up more of your time than is absolutely necessary. The more you act like the boss’s pet, the more your co-workers will learn to resent you. They don’t want to give up their free time, but the more you give up, the more it reflects badly on them. Keep your reputation intact and only work as much as you’re required to work and never an hour more.
9. Talking Too Much During Meetings
Meetings are in integral part of the workplace, but no one wants to be there. You’ll never see as many eyes rolling around in skulls as the times when you feel it’s absolutely necessary to speak up. Maybe you have a bright idea or a suggestion. Again, keep it to yourself. Everyone wants to get out of there and back to their desks so they can get on Facebook or play Candy Crush. You speaking up impedes on that time, and everyone will hate you for it, guaranteed.
10. Practicing Your Stand-Up Routine
You might think that humor is a good way to schmooze your coworkers and even your boss. Keep your jokes to yourself. If the people you worked with wanted to laugh, they’d go to a comedy show. Even if you’re told outside of work that you’re hilarious, you’re probably only told that when you’re drunk. So unless you keep a fifth of vodka in the bottom drawer of your desk, make your time at work as humorless as possible. You’re supposed to be miserable at work. It’s kind of like the law of working.
See Also: The 5 Worst Ways to Start a New Job
This has been a service announcement for those who feel they have to be different to fit in. Just be like everyone else and your time at work will fly by. You’ll make friends, your boss will hate you like he or she is supposed to and, best of all, you’ll be able to collect your paycheck at the end of the week. That’s the working life and you had better get used to it while conforming just like everyone else.