16 April, 2013

Bonding with new colleagues:

You have moved jobs. Just started with your professional life or may be joined back after a sabbatical. Apart from adjusting to the new environment, work culture and assignment, you also want to get along with the new set of colleagues. Good colleagues can at times graduate into good friends. They guide you, encourage you and at times watch your back when you falter at work. So, it becomes important to foster a cordial work relationship with the people who spend half the day with you.

For some, bonding happens in a blink of an eye. It comes naturally to them. For others, it takes time and effort. Let us list a few ice-breakers for you that can help you bond well with your colleagues.

Over the food: Believe me or not, it works! Even if your colleague is a perennial diet control freak, she will succumb to the sweet whiff of a warm vanilla muffin or a spicy pulao at the lunch table. Offer snacks and start with a conversation. Tell her that your uncle delivered cupcakes at your doorstep this morning as it was his dog’s birthday and you thought of bringing it to office and sharing it with everyone. All cultures, across borders, this works. If abroad, take your native food (ensure, it’s not very spicy or smelly) and offer it to your unsuspecting colleagues. I am sure; it will warm-up the relationship between you two.

Over bit**in session: Usually, people do not like whiners. But if there are any common grounds to bitch about, do indulge. Be it in-laws, canteen food, celebrities, boss’s dressing sense; participate in the session and come out as a comrade in arms. Be careful that you aren’t biting the bait for office politics. Ensure that the upsurge of this negative discussion is genuine. This brings out the empathy in co-workers and they become BFFs (Best Friends Forever) till job change does them apart.

Over gaga session: Na –ah! This isn’t about Lady Gaga. This is about going gaga over your colleague’s choice of music, perfume, dress, ornaments, looks (beware, you can be framed for sexual harassment), etc. You can praise them for their new car, new house, and new pet or just plain handwriting. Just make sure that you sound genuinely happy for their choices. This is a sure shot ice-breaker.

Over the wheels: Be it public transport or a car-pool; try to use the opportunity to strike a cordial note with your colleagues. Give a lift to people travelling your way. At times, you can go out of the way (if you please). But travelling together, makes miracles happen. People tend to befriend you very easily if you happen to own a car or a two-wheeler. If you use public transport like taxi or autos, try to share it with others travelling in your direction. This type of bonding goes a long way.

Over a game: If you are a cricket fan (especially in India), you have already won half the battle. On a Friday, wear team India t-shirt (with Tendulkar or Dhoni written on it) to office. And within minutes, you will have people flocking you asking for the latest scores in IPL. Cricket, Hockey, Football, Tennis and Boxing (thanks to Mary Kom for bringing this sport to limelight), discuss any sport with a bit of enthusiasm and people will be willing to participate in that conversation. All the sports bars are not running in vain. This is where long-time corporate relationships are formed.

Can you list anymore instances to build a rapport with your new colleagues? I am listening.

Parimita Chakravorty

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