how not to be the annoying new person at your new job

usnewsStarting a new job is tough – you’ve got to used to new work, new colleagues, a new boss, and new office culture. Sometimes people try so hard to be at home in a new office that they end up inadvertently alienating their new coworkers. Don’t be that person!

At U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about things to avoid, including minimizing the challenges of your job, team, or company; not taking any notes; assuming you don’t need to prove yourself because you were a star at your last job; and more. You can read it here.

{ 162 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Snark

    I’ll add a subtle one: rushing the getting-to-know-you process with your new coworkers. A guy at my last job did this, and it sort of drove everyone bonkers for no real reason. It was like, “Oh hey, you guys are talking about your weekends! I spent the weekend with my kids. Their mom has custody since we split up four years ago, but I get them every other weekend and it’s just great and Madison is 13 and Dakota is 9 and we went to the museum and have you ever been to the museum and man I just treasure those days with my kids and I’m so glad Linda and I are able to be effective coparents especially since she cheated on me when we broke up and wakka wakka wakka wakka”

    And we’re just sitting there, hair getting blown back by the gale-force gusts of TMI, just sort of nodding politely because we can’t get a word in edgewise.

    Reply
    1. Aurion

      I swear I didn’t speak unless spoken to for the first four months at my current job because I was afraid of doing exactly what you described.

      Reply
      1. De Minimis

        I know, I often do the same. People usually think I’m standoffish at first, but I’m just trying not to be “that guy.”

        Reply
        1. Snark

          I’m not aloof, I just don’t want to talk at you about how cool The Expanse is for the next 27 minutes because I’m new and lonely and oh god I don’t have any friends here yet and will you be my friend and OH GOD I’M DOING IT *runs away*

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            1. silly rabbit

              I want to be friends with you but you won’t want to be friends with me because you’ll think I’m weird but I am actually weird but I can’t let you know that yet I have to let the weirdness out little by little and then see if you can handle it oh my god what if I say the wrong thing too soon and then you can’t handle the weird better to just BE QUIET FOREVER

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                1. Aurion

                  We just don’t say it aloud because we’d be That Person and scare away everyone through the internet.

                2. Specialk9

                  Ha ha this entire thread. Yes. The internal monologue of the socially awkward.

                  I’ve learned by trial and error over years the things I did that annoy people. Turns out people don’t like the guy who Tries! Too!! HARD!!! So now I focus on pretending to be the chill mellow people I always like so much.

                  My current evolution is learning that most people are feeling exactly the same – especially in a dept that doesn’t do much team based work – and if I invite them to coffee or lunch, they are glad someone is being friendly. I still struggle with awkward silences though.

                3. Nolan

                  I recently caught myself doing this with a conversation about baseball, and I have Many Thoughts about baseball and things related to baseball. I think I got about 10 min in when I realized and clammed up to let someone else take the lead.

                  Seems like I barely talk at all, or it’s entirely too much for any reasonable audience to listen to

                4. De Minimis

                  And then sometimes when I do talk to someone for a while my throat is all sore afterward because I’m not used to it!

          1. excel_fangrrrl

            you can talk at me about how cool The Expanse is for the next 27 minutes (or more)! this is a social interaction the idea of which does not make my skin feel icky <3

            i'm someone who gets a lot of flack for being "shy" or "antisocial". i simply have no filter so it's best i keep a lid on it, ya know?

            them: why don't you talk more?
            me: TELLS THEM HOW I REALLY FEEL ABOUT THING
            them: wow you sure do have a lot to say!
            me: slinks away…

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        1. Red Reader

          Conversely: I realized this morning that half my team doesn’t know that I’m getting married a week from Friday. I’ve been with the team longer than we’ve been engaged. Whoops!

          Reply
    2. Malibu Stacey

      I think think this could be a sub-heading of “Know Your Office Culture” – in some workplaces, it’s not unusual for people to share really personal things with their coworkers.

      Reply
      1. Snark

        Sure, but it’s never usual to sort of forcefully insert autobiographical monologues into conversation in an attempt to prematurely build relationships, and hoo boy is it common.

        Reply
        1. Malibu Stacey

          I can get behind that. But I have worked at places where I couldn’t believe the things people revealed about themselves, and no one thought it was weird.

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          1. Jukeboxx32

            This. I work for the State, and holy crap… the things I learned in the first month. Ex: The preferred term is warlock, not wizard.

            Reply
      2. Ramona Flowers

        There’s sharing personal things in a socially acceptable way and there’s being this guy. This guy is not a good guy to be in any office.

        Reply
      3. LizB

        That’s true in my workplace, but there’s a more appropriate way to share personal things than the example Snark wrote above. Here, you’d want to start with something like, “My weekend was great! I had my kids for the weekend, and we went to the museum.” Other people will then generally follow up by asking how many kids, how old, do they live with mom during the week, etc., so you can get those details in. It makes it more of a dialogue, and your coworkers can show you what level of information they’re comfortable getting through what they ask about. The “Linda cheated on me” thing might be best saved for a conversation in a few months when you know people a little better.

        Reply
    3. LabTech

      Uh oh, I think I just did this! Thanks for the warning!

      And very timely article! First day at my new job! (Wish me luck!)

      Reply
  2. BRR

    “Talking too much about your old job” We had someone who joined our department earlier this year that is a really big offender of this. She’s proven to be completely inflexible about how she does things if it is different from her old job (which was a much larger department so things are inherently going to be different).

    Reply
      1. BRR

        Sorry, that is not clear at all. No, she is new to our organization. Her old organization was a lot larger so procedures are naturally different. It’s really impacted how much people want to work with her because she tries to turn everything into how it was done at her old employer, not taking anything into consideration. It’s basically “I did things this way and can’t be bothered to learn how to do new things.”

        Reply
            1. OtterB

              I worked with a guy once who talked about people whose previous company was Oh So Peachy. “Back at OhSoPeachy, we used to…”

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        1. Snark

          Oh, then yeah, she’s 100% in the wrong. Like, I can see an internal transfer doing it, maybe, but a whole new job? NOOOOPE.

          Reply
        2. Triplestep

          I work with this person. And to make matters worse, she is completely out of her depth in her new role, in which she is responsible for things which used to come under my role. It would not have been so bad had I been cut loose from those responsibilities once they were given to the team she was hired to join several months ago – no, I’m supposed to COLLABORATE with her. (Not train – collaborate. I’m supposed to treat her as if she has the skills and experience to do her job.) So essentially I’m there as a constant reminder to her that she does not know the industry standards our vendors all use, or have the subject matter expertise I have, etc, etc. She refuses to ask questions, has trouble retaining information, interrupts constantly to try to hide the fact that she is not up to speed, and yes – refers to the way she used to do things (in a different industry) at every turn.

          In my estimation, the worst thing that former-job-invokers do to the rest of us is leave us open to looking like we are resistant to change, and not open to new ideas. Sometimes people who bolt out of the gate with “new ways” to do things really just don’t know what they are doing!

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        3. K.

          I had a boss like this, and it was really frustrating because she had way more resources at her disposal at her old job so we simply could not do things her way where we were. She burned us out really quickly. Thankfully she left after a year.

          Reply
    1. Gee Gee

      I used to overdo comparisons to my old job, but only because I was so excited to finally work somewhere that did things in a way that made sense! I was trying to express admiration for the new job, but I don’t think my intentions were clear enough. In retrospect, nobody cared.

      Reply
    2. hermit crab

      When people do this, it always reminds me of Phoebe from the Magic School Bus (“at my old school..”)

      Reply
        1. KHB

          Except that the synergy I’m seeing between the posts – the possibility that this morning’s OP is the annoying new person but doesn’t realize it – is something Alison didn’t really address in her answer.

          Reply
          1. Purplesaurus

            Sorry I wasn’t clear. I meant that we saw a new hire’s perspective of an annoying trainer in this morning’s post, and now a list of things that make a new hire annoying to coworkers. Hence the juxtaposition KHB referred to.

            Reply
              1. Snork Maiden

                In the one corner, we have Irritating New Hire, fresh-faced and full of righteousness. In the other corner, Annoying Trainer, with an overpowering sense of authority! Who will win in this battle of immovable superiority meeting inexorable gumption? Only the AAM commentariat will know!

                Reply
  3. NPOQueen

    Avoiding sides in office politics is the hardest thing about being a new employee. When two sides are fighting, people want to recruit others to their side, and sometimes have the hierarchical standing to do so. I’ve definitely seen a manager or two pull new workers into their feuds with other managers, saying “Sansa is difficult to work with, come to me instead if you have questions.” It’s a pain in the butt and it’s hard to warn new people about it without looking like you’re taking sides yourself.

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    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      This is a great one. I find office politics super scary, and the best thing new people can do is try to stay as far out of it as possible.

      Reply
    2. Specialk9

      I feel super awkward when someone mean-gossips about co-workers. I don’t want to hear it, but I also don’t want to be sanctimonious.

      Which is funny that I don’t like mean-gossip, given how much I like advice columns. But figuring out how to act, or hearing about strangers acting badly (esp wedding craziness) is a very different scenario for me.

      Reply
    3. De Minimis

      Related to this, it’s best to not take part in office jokes and poke fun at coworkers when you don’t really know them. I’ve seen people do this to try to fit in, and it rarely goes well.

      Reply
    4. Jadelyn

      We actually found out about a bunch of really awful stuff a member of our team was spreading behind our backs specifically *because* we hired someone and they took the only open desk, sharing an office with this horrible coworker, and she tried to jump on the new hire and make sure they knew how awful the rest of us were – phrased as exactly that kind of helpful, friendly warning, of course. Highlights included “they’re all on crazy pills” (her words, not mine), “they practice black magic and devil worship”, and “I unplug my phone from the wall when I’m not using it because I think everyone else can use it to listen in on me.”

      A couple months later we reorganized the area and the new hire wound up sharing an office with me instead, and after a couple weeks of working together, they figured out I was not the unstable, spying devil child she’d been told I was, and opened up to me about the stuff horrible coworker had said.

      The irony, of course, is that I *am* on psych meds, and am in fact a Luciferian witch. She wasn’t wrong in the facts of things, exactly, but when she tried to exaggerate and weaponize those facts…that’s when we have a problem with it. Luckily we were eventually able to fire her for unrelated issues. Things have been much less dysfunctional with her gone!

      Reply
    5. Jiya

      I just transferred internally into an SME position and got plopped into a conflict like that without even realizing it. (Before I was basically worked alone, so there weren’t many opportunities to get into conflict with anyone.) Anyway, now I’m supposed to coach a worker who left his supervisor’s last nerve behind a looong time ago, while both sides periodically come to me for affirmation that the other side is Wrong. Fun!

      Reply
    6. Cassandra

      At my first post-professional-school interview, the head honcho made it absolutely clear that were I hired, I needed to be in his corner in all things office politics.

      I’d already seen some indications that he and the rest of the organization were at war. I am not good at seeing these things, just to be clear — it was obvious as the nose on my face (which is pretty obvious; my family is not among the small-nosed).

      I was offered the position. I turned it way, way down. No way was I walking into that. Head honcho was gone a mere three years later, which is lightning-fast for the industry in question.

      Reply
  4. Ramona Flowers

    I’d like to add messing with people’s stuff. A recent discussion on the open thread revealed that in some workplaces it is normal to take things off other people’s desks or pick up their stuff. I’ve never worked anywhere where that is acceptable and I’d advise you assume it’s not until proven otherwise.

    Reply
    1. memyselfandi

      I second this. When I was in school I got a job as Head Cashier at a chain bookstore. There were several Head Cashiers because there had to be at least one for each shift and sometimes two. The first thing I did was clean and “organize” the head cashiers desk. No one said anything, but after a couple of weeks it occurred to me that it was a common space and perhaps I should have been more respectful of that.

      Reply
  5. Jesmlet

    A couple of my pet peeves:
    Not asking questions
    Asking too many questions

    I find that people who don’t ask questions while being trained make a lot of mistakes later on. No one should be afraid of asking for clarification or more detail. The stuff we do is complicated, some of it is common sense, but if you’re not sure, ask!
    On the other side of that coin, don’t ask too many irrelevant questions about processes. Reminds me of that “but why?” scene from the Gilmore Girls. At some point, we arrive at the answer, “just because that’s how we do it” which is not ideal, but often is the truth. Also, assume your coworkers are nice people and aren’t intentionally excluding you. If it’s relevant, we will loop you in or give you the story afterwards, but sometimes we just get in the middle of something and can’t stop to explain something to you when it’s not pertinent to your job.

    Reply
    1. The Other Dawn

      Yeah, people who don’t ask questions scare me. I mean, there are times when you just get it right away, or it’s not very detailed and easy to remember, or you just can’t think of anything until you actually start doing the task yourself, but that doesn’t happen Every Single Time.

      Reply
      1. Squeeble

        Yeah, I feel like I need to train myself to ask questions up front. Usually, I say I don’t have any because I haven’t fully processed what I’ve been told yet, and it’s hard to tell what I haven’t learned yet. It’s only once I start doing the task on my own that I realize where my gaps are.

        Reply
    2. Specialk9

      I don’t think ‘asking questions up front as I train you’ (if that’s what you meant) is a fair expectation for haptic learners, who learn by doing rather than hearing or seeing. I often don’t know what will confuse me on a new system until I do a few tries. So I’ll write down exactly what you say, take screenshots if the training is by computer, and then come back later after I’ve tried it.

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      1. hbc

        Yes, most everything makes sense while I’m watching an expert do it and explain it. I just have no idea what part of it will be confusing once I’m in the drivers seat.

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      2. NotThatGardner

        this! i train new users on a system i manage regularly that definitely requires some playing around first. i try to make sure i impress upon them as genuinely as possible that i am available *anytime* for them to come back to me with inevitable questions once they’ve gotten in and moved around in the system on their own. i find it makes for way more effective and thought out questions, and easier to explain things to them once they’ve experienced it for themselves.

        Reply
      3. Nervous Accountant

        Oh wow, I’ learn by actually doing and then hearing/seeing. didn’t know there was a name for it, and it probably explains why I wasn’t so great in school.

        Reply
      4. Jesmlet

        This is totally fine to me! I’m more talking people who have absolutely no questions on processes or the company as a whole even after getting their feet wet a bit. If you’ve asked me zero questions after being here a week (new hires do actual job related things on the very first day with us), I would be concerned.

        Reply
    3. SystemsLady

      Agree with “asks too many questions”.

      If you’re new and I’m asking you to lay out premade complicated widgets and there’s a deadline for that work, you should know that is not a good time to ask me how the widgets are made, or why they do this or that, etc.

      Reply
      1. SystemsLady

        To clarify, I’m fine with a couple of those kinds of questions, but you should be able to take the “this is too complicated to teach you right away and you need to learn this first” hint. To me, the odds are 50-50 you’re somebody who’s just really good at picking up the basics, or somebody who thinks this daily work is below them and is actively trying not to learn it – I’ve run into both.

        Reply
      2. afiendishthingy

        We’ve got someone now who’s been here a couple months, and she asks ENDLESS questions without trying to figure anything out on her own first. Like constantly asking the receptionist if we have this or that kind of office supply without looking around in the supply cabinets first. Or she needed an external cd drive for her computer, so our director told her to pick which one she wanted and then email the link to the office manager who would make the purchase with the company card.
        “What if I order the wrong one? Which one should I get? Is this one ok? is this one better? I hope I don’t order the wrong one. Who do I email it to? Jane? I should email it to Jane? Or Wakeen? Should I copy Wakeen? What should my email say? So when it comes will they just put it on my desk? or in my mailbox? will they tell me when it’s here?”
        I wish this were an exaggeration

        Reply
    4. Chrissy

      Devil’s advocate here. When I started this job with my current employer 3 years ago, I had to walk on eggshells around the crabby woman who trained me. If I made a mistake she said I should have asked more questions. If I asked questions, she grew irritated at me for overthinking things. I could not please her or even get her to be okay with me. When you’re new, you don’t know the questions to ask. You’re just trying to absorb what you can and ask the questions that seem relevant at the time that your mind is trying to comprehend things. She’s still here and I’m still here. We’re not friends; we’re not enemies. Still…it sucks to be the trainer and it sucks to be the trainee. Why don’t both just try to help each other out?

      Reply
  6. The Other Dawn

    RE: Not taking notes

    This is the one that really grates on me. Not only does it come across as cavalier and that the employee will forget something, but it also gives me the impression that they don’t know office norms. Why would you not take notes? I learned very early on: always bring a notepad and pen when you go to a meeting or get called into someone’s office for something. I don’t always need to take notes, but I feel like it shows the other person that I care about the details of whatever it is they’re asking me to do.

    Reply
    1. Non-profiteer

      I agree that you should always have a notepad and pen to take notes, but I have to stand up for the non-note takers: I don’t take many notes. It’s just not my style. It’s hard for me to actually listen to something, participate in a discussion, AND write things down. The writing things down distracts from the other two functions, and you DO want me listening, right?

      I am cognizant of the perception that I’m not engaged if I’m not taking notes, so sometimes I’ll make an effort to write a few things down. That is often notes for notes-sake.

      Reply
      1. LadyKelvin

        I want to second this. If I’m taking notes I’m not paying attention. I might make a few notes of what I might forget when we are done talking, but paper and pencil (or even worse-a computer) is the most distracting thing ever and I won’t remember a thing if I have to write it down to make you feel better about me remembering what you said.

        Reply
      2. Specialk9

        That’s actually a good point. I find people who don’t take notes really irritating, because they’re usually also the ones who mess up things they should have written down.

        But some people can’t. My dad is deeeeeeeeeeply dyslexic, but also operates at a very high level. He would listen to school lectures, and presumably throughout his work career, without taking any notes. One of his college profs actually yelled at him for being smug, because he didn’t take notes. He didn’t realize my dad had to concentrate to memorize everything he heard, because writing was so hard for him.

        Thanks for the reminder. I’ve been getting annoyed about something when I should know better.

        Reply
      3. TurquoiseCow

        Yeah I hardly ever take notes, and when I do, I rarely, If ever, look back at them. I stopped taking notes partway through high school because I realized it was a waste of time and only resumed in (some) college classes because I actually found it helpful, but even then, I rarely looked back at them.

        Unless it’s something SUPER complicated? I often learn by doing, so if a trainer walks me through a process, it will stick in my head better. This is especially true if it’s a similar type of job to one I’ve done before. If it’s a completely new industry, it’s probably a good idea for me to take notes, but it’s not really in my nature to do so.

        That said, I think the act of writing things down sometimes helps me remember later.

        Reply
      4. I'm Not Phyllis

        I don’t ever look at the notes again once I take them … and I’d prefer not to take them at all (I’m the same way – it’s easier for me to listen and absorb if I’m not also taking notes). But … I take them just so people won’t feel like I’m not engaged.

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      5. nnn

        Exactly what I came here to post. I learn by listening and asking questions to the point where I actually understand the logic behind the material (and I’ve always been able to ask the questions I need to in the workplace), at which point I don’t need notes. Whereas if I attempt to take notes, it interferes with my ability to listen and understand.

        Simple example: Our shared drive has a very specific and complex structure of folders and subfolders, many of which are named with abbreviations. When I was first being instructed where to retrieve and store certain files, I asked what the abbreviations stand for. Once I was told what they stand for, the logic of the file structure became clear to me and I could find my own way around, so even if I didn’t remember where to save files that are ready for quality control, I could read the file structure and figure out the right place through logic. Whereas if I had taken notes, I wouldn’t have retained the meaning and would have to keep referring back to those notes and wouldn’t have retained anything, and then would have to go back to my trainer for further questions like where do I find reference texts or previous drafts.

        Reply
    2. The Other Dawn

      I should rephrase that. I don’t mean people should take notes for the sake of taking them to make me feel better. I’m talking about people at my company that never bring a notepad or even a pen to meetings, do not ever take notes, and then almost miss deadlines or come back to ask me what I said, how do I do X, etc.

      I take very short notes, because I, too, would be distracted by taking a bunch of notes. I often just write down important dates, or a note to call Joe about an aspect of the project. Stuff like that.

      Reply
      1. CDL

        This is my stance as well- we have a new person on the team who doesn’t take notes, and I’ve had to explain things to him several times because of it. I’ve recently told him to start writing things down, because I cannot keep taking time out to answer the same basic questions over and over again.

        Reply
    3. Phoenix Programmer

      I had a former coworker use this against me. They told me to stop taking notes and they would send me the process document.

      Week later I was supposed to do the process and asked for the document and trainer loudly announces that I should have taken notes. Sally it worked and I never got on great with that team.

      Reply
    4. Lucille B.

      Can I revise “always bring a notepad and pen…” to “Always bring a notepad BIG ENOUGH TO WRITE MORE THAN FIVE WORDS ON and pen”?

      Two of our younger hires think bringing a post-it note to trainings is appropriate, and I keep having to redirect them to a larger notepad.

      Reply
      1. The Other Dawn

        Ha! That happened at my old job. We hired a teller manager (bank) and when he came to the admin office for meetings, he wouldn’t bring paper or pen at all. He would have to scramble to find a pen in the conference room and paper. Since the conference room wasn’t a supply closet, he would grab the 3X3 Post-it pad that was next to the phone. It was pretty funny to see him taking a bunch of notes using about 20 Post-its.

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      2. BRR

        I have a coworker who carries around the tiniest pad of paper (slightly bigger than a post it). They take a lot of notes but it’s almost comical how they struggle to get everything down. It reminds me of in school when you got one index card for notes on a test so you would write as small as possible.

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      3. LQ

        HA! I’ve taken to using giant post it’s lately. Often I need to either give directions to someone else or remind myself. So my notes are really to dos and then I can just post it them right up on my monitor (or someone else’s).

        My director thinks it’s pretty funny. (But he also said if it was anyone but me he’d think that they were just trying to do less work.)

        Reply
    5. Horrified

      I really, really want new hires to make NOTES about what they are learning. NOTES. BULLET POINTS. Just enough info to trigger your recollection of the instructions.

      But some – especially the reallyyoung and nexperienced ones- will take copious, verbatim transcription of every little thing I say. They then expect you to slow down as they write “every afternoon at 4:00 we collect the checks and prepare a bank deposit unless the next day is a holiday, and then we wait until the next day” instead of noting: “4:00 bank dep”.

      I’m the same person who is bugged when I call a business and have to leave a message with the receptionist and he/she says “Wait a sec – I need to find a pen” which is then followed by the same laborious transcription of what I’m saying.

      I know that everyone has different learning styles, but the note-taker has to have some level of awareness to keep things moving along.

      Reply
      1. Katelyn

        I want to stand up for receptionists who regularly get chewed out by those higher up the food chain if there isn’t enough information in the messages they pass on… even when the caller did not provide the information, and it would have been rude of the receptionist to ask… (e.g. “Mr. Smith is cancelling his appointment because a family member is having surgery” is followed by questions on which family member, what kind of surgery, why that cause the appointment to be cancelled… etc.) Sometimes it’s the receptionist knowing their audience (and it’s not you the message giver).

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    6. Red Reader

      yermagerd. I was training a new person last week. After I answered the same (very simple) question four times in the space of an hour, I said “How about if you jot that down so you can refer to it later?”

      “No,” newbie says, “I’ve got it.”

      After I repeated that same suggestion the next three times newbie asked me the same question, newbie got visibly irate and heaved a dramatic sigh. “NO,” newbie says, “I’VE GOT IT NOW.”

      I don’t think they’re gonna be around much longer.

      Reply
  7. Alter_ego

    I started at a new job 3 weeks ago, and it’s my second job out of college, my first time in a new job in the same industry. I *know* I’m talking about my old job too much. There’s just so many things that keep happening here that surprise me because stuff that I had assumed ( or in some cases was told) was industry standard either aren’t, or just aren’t how they do things here. So I look like an idiot because I did something that to everyone else here seems obvious. So I try to defend myself and come off sounding like that girl magic school bus that everyone hated.

    Reply
    1. Snark

      Yeah, I can totally understand how that happens, but yeah….don’t do that anymore. In general, I think one assume they look like an idiot more than actually warranted, and then they get defensive because they feel like they’ve got to excuse it, but three weeks in, it’s generally understood that you’re at the foot of the learning curve.

      My suggestion is to just be honest about what’s going on, not defensive. “Oh! I’m sorry, I thought that was an industry standard practice, I’ll file that away for next time,” or “Oh, I wasn’t aware that was the practice here! Thanks for letting me know,” or “Oh, thanks for letting me know, I didn’t know that was part of the workflow here.”

      Reply
    2. Anna Held

      Next time you catch yourself doing this stop, say “I’m sorry, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed”, and move on to something else. You’re young, you’re new, you’re recognizing a bad tic and trying to eliminate it. That’ll buy you enough goodwill until you can cut it out completely!

      Reply
  8. Elizabeth West

    I’m usually okay until I get comfortable. Then all my stupid comes out. :P

    One thing on this list I never do is not take notes. I take ALL the notes. I do it so hard I warn people training me that I’m writing notes, so this might take longer because I want to document everything so I don’t have to ask them 500 times but only if I run across something we missed or something weird. I get anxious that they’ll get impatient with me because I’m taking notes and speed through the training and then we’ll miss something and then they’ll hate me and think I’m incompetent.

    Reply
    1. Specialk9

      Do you know about those pens that will record as you write? Livescribe. You can click on your notes and listen to the audio as you were writing that part.

      Though I’ve found that people can get weirded out about being recorded, so when I used one, I made a point of saying “I’m going to audio record now”, put the pen in an awkward angle to poke the button, and then after do the same with the awkward angle and “I’m going to stop recording now”. So they don’t get paranoid that it can record secretly with a subtle finger movement (which it totally can).

      Reply
  9. Specialk9

    Not taking notes when you need notes makes me bonkers.

    For a new team member I was managing, I was walking through how to log onto a system and do something. He nodded along throughout, said mm-hmm… Without taking notes. (Everyone else I’ve ever trained took notes.) Sure enough, he came back later, ‘heyyyyy, about that thiiiing, how do I do that again?’ I told him that from here onward, if I give him any instructions, he had to write them down. I’m happy to clarify, but he needs to do his part. But it did not predispose me to think he was on the ball, or too bright. (Both of which turned out to be true – the nicest bag of hair I ever managed.)

    I used to be wildly impressed by waiters who could take orders without notes, but with few exceptions they get something wrong or have to come back to clarify.

    Folks, unless your brain is a steel vault, take notes.

    Reply
    1. Gee Gee

      The fancier restaurants in which I was a server did not allow the staff to write notes, because apparently spending more for the same food means you don’t want to have to look at a pen? IDK, it always seemed backwards to me. I’d be much more annoyed if La Fancy messed up my zillion dollar platter than if Corner Pub brought me the wrong side with my six-dollar burger.

      Reply
    2. Anonygoose

      I take notes because I know it looks bad if I don’t, but I gotta say, I never really look at those notes unless it’s something really specific that I would never even try to remember – like an account code or something like that. How to log into something and do something? My notes likely wouldn’t even make sense, and aren’t nearly as good as me just paying attention. I just don’t learn well by taking notes, and it distracts me from actually learning.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        Someone above pointed out that some people can’t take notes and listen and talk, and I realized I should probably let this pet peeve go. My own dad has strong dyslexia and can’t take notes, but he’s hella smart. I hadn’t really connected those two before.

        Reply
    3. The Other Dawn

      I once had a direct report that wouldn’t take notes. Ever. Even when I was going over a new process that required some changes on her end, or an important deadline or something. Eventually I’d ask if she’s going to remember all that. She’d then pull out her notepad and pen and start writing. And, yes, she was usually the one who would forget a task, miss a deadline or make a mistake because she didn’t write it down. If you know you can’t remember it all, write it down.

      Reply
    4. Purplesaurus

      All these comments about taking notes (outside of a meeting) make me think you guys need some internal guides. I’m happy to walk new hires through some processes a few times, but we created stepped out documents for how to do most things that they can refer to when they’re doing those tasks on their own.

      Reply
      1. nnn

        That’s what I was thinking! If you have a decent typing speed, documenting a process is just as fast as explaining it verbally. I think if I were in a context where it was impolitic not to take notes about instructions being given, I’d insist on doing it on a computer and then produce documentation for others who need to learn it in the future.

        Reply
      2. SongBird

        I take copious notes, and then turn them into those internal stepped out how-to documents – because my current job insists that the umbrella SOP documents are good enough.

        Uh, no. No, they’re not. They don’t include most of the low-level stuff and they don’t include the small, fine details of how things actually happen at the UI level.

        I’ve offered to make the documents public (to the company, not to the public) and was told that if we had them available, auditors would shut us down. For having stepped out task lists.

        I’m … not staying at this job past my contract time. Nope.

        Reply
  10. anathema

    Adding to this -when in a training session, and another participant asks a question, don’t answer for the person doing the training. Don’t be disrespectful of another’s time in the orientation process, even if it’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever seen.

    Reply
      1. Malibu Stacey

        I was at one where if he didn’t answer for the trainer, he was adding his own 2 cents which added nothing.

        Reply
    1. SystemsLady

      Related, recently a new fresh from college coworker immediately answered a customer’s question for me based on the small subset of the topic he knew. It seemed more of a case of him being really eager to prove himself than him trying to undermine me, but he was there with me (not billed to the customer) primarily to listen and learn.

      Reply
  11. Geneva

    Too much enthusiasm. Don’t come in bursting with energy about how you’re going to improve everything because 1) it’s an insult to your new coworkers whose work you’re indirectly criticizing and 2) you know nothing (Jon Snow). Keep your wonderful suggestions to yourself until you know the flavor of the company Kool-Aid, then slowly start to speak up.

    Next, emotional hand-holding. It’s a quick way to lose your colleagues’ respect and confidence in your work. Like I’m happy to give you all the practical info you need to get up and running, but for the love of God, don’t treat me like you’re best friend/therapist. My ex boss was guilty of this. She’d freak out after every call or meeting with a client, then come to me for reassurance that she performed ok. SO. DRAINING.

    Last, refusing to figure anything out on your own. No one expects you to be perfect right away, so give yourself time to explore a bit and make your own connections. Especially when it comes to any sort of technology or software. Remember, online tutorials are your friend!

    Reply
    1. MashaKasha

      Oh oh I came here to post #1! “OMG I can’t BELIEVE you guys do it like this! What terrible design! Everything needs to be rewritten” Mind you, this statement might be accurate, and everyone else might have already agreed amongst themselves that everything does need to be rewritten, but coming from someone who just walked in the door and does not know what they’re talking about, it does not comes across well.

      Reply
      1. Andie Elizabeth

        Oh, my god, I am training a person right now to take over my job when I leave my position to go back to school at the end of this year. One of the real problems we have here is a lack of documentation on our processes and how to do things, but I have managed to codify exactly ONE process (entering and formatting an invoice from one of our Purchase Orders), and I use that as a training tool when we get a new person. I will give them a hard copy of the step-by-step how-to guide, and I’ll show the new person how to do it, and then I tell them to do it themselves, follow the guide, and let me know if they have any questions.

        Inevitably, (and this has happened Three. Times. so far) they will not refer to the guide at all, and when I check over the invoices they have created, they will all have been formatted wrong, and I’ll have to redo it, and nitpick the person’s work for another week before they can get it right on their own.

        That’s annoying enough on its own, but this newest person rewrote my training guide on Day 2, before they had even hit the point where I’ve nitpicked their formatting enough that they can do it right on their own.

        Do not be that person! Take your own notes if they’re helpful to you, ask questions, and use whatever training materials your trainer gives you!

        Reply
        1. MashaKasha

          They rewrote the training guide that they were to be trained on? Sounds like an amazing initiative! What can possibly go wrong? lol

          Reply
        2. kitryan

          I wrote our guide from my own training notes and then gave them to people I was training (so they didn’t have to write everything down but could add anything they’d find helpful and they’d then have a customized reference going forward-one person told me she wasn’t referring to the guide when she was doing the practices I’d been giving her (because I’d ask why she’d made particular errors-was that section of the guide not clear?). She seemed to think that it was like notes for a test and she… wouldn’t be able to use the notes when she was performing the procedures ‘for real’? I still don’t understand – work isn’t like a test at school! No one cares if you do all your work with a procedure guide open next to you or not – as long as you do it right!

          Reply
    2. Malibu Stacey

      +1 to your first paragraph. I work in a regulated industry so anything we send to clients has to be approved by multiple people, including Compliance and Legal. One of things we give to clients is a one-pager with their team contact info. It includes a description of whom to go to for what kind of question or request. (I usually create hard copies of them as the admin.) My entry-level co-worker sent me a list of revisions to his sheet and basically told me to make language-choice changes, not realizing I wasn’t actually allowed to.

      Reply
  12. Jan

    I have had a few managers – usually director-level or higher who act like they were hired because we are all the dumbest bunch of people in the universe. At two jobs I’ve witnessed this and it’s so demoralizing. Like “Yeah, I know you used to do it that way but that’s why they hired me, it didn’t work.” or “This department has a terrible reputation, but now I’m here so I think things are going to improve.” I’ve had both of those things said to me before.

    One guy was particularly bad at it. Always putting us down and acting like we were morons who wouldn’t know how to make a copy without his help. And what’s really annoying is that he was the 4th person to be offered the open spot – three others turned it down because it wasn’t enough money. So every time he acted like Jesus, I wanted to be like “You were 4th choice! We settled!”

    Reply
  13. Secretary

    At the job I’m at now, I applied a strategy when I first started here that worked really well. My rule was for the first 30 days, I did everything EXACTLY like the girl before me did it. Even the stuff that took twice as long because she didn’t understand technology, or the stuff that made no sense.
    After 30 days, half of the things I would have wanted to change right away I now understood why she did them the way she did them. As for the other stuff, I implemented one (small!) change every week or two while counseling with my boss. This way, the transition was smooth. This was in a workplace where changes were welcomed of course, so in a workplace where change is not as welcome it would make sense to space it out.

    Reply
    1. kitryan

      Good job! I always tell people I’m training that they should proceed this way too-you don’t see the whole picture until you’re part of it and have been through everything. Once you really have the whole picture you can gradually begin a bit of streamlining and fitting things to your own preferences.

      Reply
  14. Kathleen Adams

    I’d like to add one (forgive me if it’s already been mentioned in the comments): In addition to not talking too much about How Things Were Done in your previous job, it’s also really important to avoid the temptation to talk as though your new workplace is a completely disfunctional hot mess that can only be saved through the brilliant innovations of the newest employee, i.e., you.

    I mean, if we’re that bad, why do you want to work here at all?

    I’ve been at my current job a long time now, and no doubt (I mean that) there are problems that I and other long-term employees are oblivious to or have learned to ignore because we’ve been here so long. No doubt (and again, I really mean that) there are things that need to be changed, and no doubt a fresh perspective can be very helpful.

    But the assumption that the new employee is the savior we’ve been waiting for and that the rest of us are clueless plodders is really, really, really insulting. And it’s also not accurate, BTW.

    So before offering your sweeping critique of everything that is wrong around here, why not actually find out what the heck you’re supposed to be doing first? If you are our savior, no doubt that will eventually emerge without you announcing it every time you talk to every other employee.

    Reply
    1. Argh!

      Have you seen those commercials for Febreeze about people being nose-blind?

      Some workplaces are like that. They get comfortable with substandard stuff in one area or another and it’s really jarring to come in from the outside, be told that the new place has high standards, and then see crap work and outdated stuff everywhere.

      Oldtimers need to respect that a pair of “new eyes” may see things they’ve become nose-blind too. You could at least say “Thanks, I never noticed that.” or “There’s a long story behind that, but suffice to say we can’t fix it in the near future.”

      You’d be surprised how many signs are out of date in many places (one of my pet peeves). I really hate it when I try to find something and get misdirected, but I hate it even more when the people responsible for updating don’t care about it.

      Reply
      1. Kathleen Adams

        I think if you read my comment, you’ll see that I was very careful to point out that indeed fresh eyes and a fresh perspective are valuable. And the reason I said that is because they are.

        But that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I’m talking about here are those arrogant newcomers who assume the rest of us have no idea how things “ought” to be done. Sure, old-timers need to listen to newcomers. But newcomers listen to old-timers too. In a healthy workplace, both perspectives are valuable.

        Reply
      2. Steph B

        I actually rejected a job offer last week based on my interview with one of the old-timers in the department (20+ years).

        We work in an industry where the technology is changing pretty frequently, and they were trying to hire someone familiar with a new platform to help implement it / develop the processes. She spent most of our 30 minutes together highlighting how much she hated the new platform / wanted to go back to their 15+ year old one, and I… just wasn’t ready to have to defend the decision to move to the new platform every week with this person (sure, it isn’t perfect, but it is what they want to move towards) — implementing it was going to be a full time job enough as it is.

        Reply
  15. oranges & lemons

    I’ve definitely made the mistake of not asking enough questions because I didn’t want to seem stupid–particularly in my current job, because I had already worked in the office, just in a very different department. I have learned since then that it’s better to look a bit stupid up front when people are willing to cut you slack than to admit one year in that you still don’t really know how to do a basic task properly.

    Reply
    1. Specialk9

      Oh gosh yes. My super power is asking the dumb questions that often reveal important things. People often pretend to understand things they don’t, or assume (and different people have different assumptions), or people think something exists that doesn’t, etc.

      I learned that the hard way when watching a new manager not ask questions so he didn’t look stupid, and he almost lost our $multi-million/year contract, and lost his job. Now I ask the dumb questions so that I’m not actually dumb!

      Reply
      1. Steph B

        This +++ 1000!

        I’ve also seen coworkers make pretty giant stupid mistakes because they didn’t want to ask a ‘stupid’ question. I totally acknowledge that I don’t know everything about the industry I work in. I’m asking questions all the time when I am taking on a new task, and I have yet to run into someone who has worked in the industry longer than me not appreciate the questions. Because nobody has headspace for it all.

        Reply
    2. CMart

      This is my personal downfall. I don’t want to look stupid/ask something that I really should know and should probably just quietly look up on my own. It’s a huge issue for me right now because I’m a toxic combination of new grad (not expected to know much), with a Masters in my field (should have a fresh head full of technical knowledge), but also a new mom (forgetful due to exhaustion and memory-eating hormones).

      I think I just need to get over my worry of being perceived to be less of a stellar hire than anticipated. I know I won’t get fired for asking too many questions, but I am constantly worried that if I show that I’ve forgotten something super basic it will harm my long term reputation. For now I just take a lot of notes and muddle my way through.

      Reply
      1. oranges & lemons

        Yeah, that was my issue too–I was being hired in part because I had done a similar role in a different area, so I didn’t want to seem like I didn’t know anything. But a lot of processes were very different between the two areas so in retrospect I think it would have been totally fine to ask about them. I’ve gone out of my way to be available to answer questions from new hires because I know this office/industry tends to have a bit of a sink or swim mentality and it can be intimidating.

        Reply
  16. Midge

    How timely! I’m starting a new job next week. (Thanks to using Alison’s advice about job hunting!) I’m most worried about picking up on the office dress code. Officially it’s business professional dress. But I got the sense from people I talked to during the interview process that my particular office is more casual than the rest of the org. Anyone have advice about what I should be adding to my wardrobe to bump up my business casual clothes for the next month or two until I figure out exactly what pieces I want to invest in? (I’m a woman in my early 30s.)

    Reply
    1. Specialk9

      I had the same situation – don’t try to shop too hard beforehand. Pencil skirt or slacks and a blouse, minus the suit jacket, generally looks good. Then when you figure out the dress code, you can add pieces. (Just take note if there’s a difference between how managers dress, and everyone else; if you want to move up, you may want to dress like managers do.)

      Personally, I like Target’s Merona line for basics, esp their cardigans.

      Reply
    2. medium of ballpoint

      I usually think about accessories that can dress up an outfit if needed (scarves, jewelry, nicer shoes, etc.). That allows for some wardrobe flexibility without having to purchase too many pieces. And I make use of color/pattern combos to make more casual pieces look more dressy.

      Good luck with the new job!

      Reply
    3. Steph B

      I’m starting a new job next month, so the timing for this article works for me too!

      I’m also struggling with the wardrobe question (also a woman in my early 30s) — I’ve got the added hiccup that I am losing some postpartum weight (I call it that, my youngest is almost 2 years old, heh), so I want to get inexpensive pieces that I can use for the next ~6 months and then invest in higher end stuff. I’ve only lost about 15 pounds at this point but some of my shirts I’m swimming in. It is a good problem to have, I guess.

      I was planning on going to Nordstrom Rack for some decent slacks/skirts/tops.

      Reply
      1. Midge

        I’m also trying to lose weight (not baby related, just trying to get in better shape), so I feel that pain!

        I bought two blazers at Talbots (on mega sale so they were $40-50 but seem to be very good quality) and once I get some pants hemmed I think I’ll be set for now.

        I really appreciate everyone’s suggestions here!

        Reply
      2. Mananana

        Goodwill/thrift stores & consignment shops can be a treasure-trove of appropriate office-wear. I can’t remember the last time I purchased a basic black skirt new. My current fave is a $5 Ann Taylor pencil skirt.

        Reply
    4. Argh!

      Wait and see. There’s no shame in showing up the first day at the level that you showed up to the interview in. I’ve seen a jillion people do that. Check out the people at your level and age and you’ll know pretty quickly what will be considered appropriate.

      Reply
  17. B

    Yes, yes, yes – do not come in to my workplace and tell me how you are going to fix/change everything because it is all wrong without understanding why things were done a certain way. 9 times out of 10 there is a perfectly good reason why they are that way so don’t change it and for the other, talk to people before deciding that’s what you want to do. Changing, without asking, will lead to revolt especially when you do not have the authority, responsibility and respect you think you should.

    Be engaged and listen to what is being taught to you. If I am teaching you something and you are looking at something else, not paying attention I am going to be less inclined to help you when you do need it. Why should I waste my time when you cannot be bothered to pay attention.

    Reply
  18. The Bimmer Guy

    This article is well-timed because our small team of 11 just grew to 12 this morning when our newest team member started today (meaning I, having been here sine early January, am no longer the newest team member). However, she’s a real gem and fits in well with the rest of the team; I can’t imagine her doing any of the things on this list.

    Reply
  19. Tau

    I started a new job last month and I’m so worried I’m being obnoxious. I was going to shut up and stay quiet and I have… not. :/ In my defense:
    – the entire team is new – I believe the longest-serving member has been here just over half a year, and my team is in the 1-4 month range or so. Similarly, a lot of processes are currently being hammered out and it seems like nothing’s set in stone yet.
    – My previous job was in the same subfield as this one, and I’m the only one who has prior experience in it. So I figure input like “jsyk, at OldJob we used tempered bitter chocolate because it held up best when filled with hot caramel” is worthwhile when I’m sitting in a room to brainstorm a teapot design with a bunch of chocolate teapot specialists who’ve never worked with caramel before.
    Still. I worry.

    Reply
    1. Cherith Ponsonby

      It doesn’t sound like you have much to worry about – if you’re in brainstorming sessions and hammering out processes then presumably they want your input and experience (especially if it’s unique), and of course that experience is going to come from previous jobs! And the fact that you’re considering the issues is a point in your favour on the non-annoying scale.

      If you do worry, consider your phrasing. “At my old job we used milk chocolate” with no context tends towards obnoxious; “At my old job we used milk chocolate because the flavours worked well together” is much more helpful, and “have [we|you] considered using milk chocolate? The flavours work well together” both opens up discussion and neatly avoids the My Old Job trap.

      Reply
  20. Hiring Mgr

    Why all the judging about these things? Notes,/no notes asking too many/not enough questions, joking around/not speaking… If everyone would chill and just accept new people , the new people would have a much easier time fitting in..

    Reply
    1. Nervous Accountant

      I’m kind of getting that vibe here too (although I’ve plenty of things to be annoyed over). Most of my coworkers are pretty friendly and welcoming to new people. I’m polite but very standoffish in the beginning with a lot of new people. I wonder how I’ll fare at a new place.

      Reply
    2. SystemsLady

      Actually, that’s why I think this is helpful. Most people *aren’t* going to directly criticize somebody new for this kind of thing – I’d have loved to know what comes off as annoying before starting my first job.

      Reply
  21. Argh!

    It’s hard not to be annoyed at being treated like you were born yesterday when you have decades of experience. I’ve been at a place for over five years now and I’m still treated like the new kid and get patronized by people who have been here for 20 or 25 years. You know what, old timers? You are annoying as hell! You are provincial and arrogant and not half as good as you think you are!

    /rant

    Reply
    1. Purplesaurus

      I think it’s pretty clear that being an overconfident newcomer or an unchanging fixture in the workplace are both bad. (And I’m willing to bet a lot of spunky newbies morph into the stodgy luddites we all know and, well, we know them.)

      Reply
  22. Pooja Krishna

    Being the new one on the block is hard for some, even if it’s for a short while. We all want to belong, but the truth is, you don’t need a buddy on day 2 or even day 20. Instead of quick friendships, let the work relationships evolve slowly. If people like you, friendships are a given and often inevitable.

    Reply
    1. Nervous Accountant

      I agree. Most of my coworkers are very friendly and welcoming in the first few weeks but I personally had a not so great experience. Idk how it is for others but for me as friendly as everyone was, things cooled off very quickly and there was a freeze to the point I was very obviously excluded from the clique.. the environment has somewhat changed now…with new people I’m personally polite but standoffish in the beginning. The person I’m now closest to, I didn’t talk to for 3 months. It just slowly evolved and that’s how it should be.

      Reply
  23. Nervous Accountant

    I trained our newest group a month ago on a few things and this is what irked me:

    Discussing a tax return–guy who challenged me on why something is improvements rather than expenses on a rental property (if after years of experience in the tax field, you don’t know that $75k of “repairs” on a 50K property is most likely not an expense then….idk).

    Same guy complaining that its SO MUCH WORK. ( I may or may nto be justified in being annoyed at this).

    New girl asking when I’ll have kids.

    Reply
  24. Soupspoon McGee

    Another tip: Don’t badmouth your predecessors, even if you’re hearing negative things from your new coworkers. Take time to learn processes and politics, and discretely dig.

    I was repeatedly told my predecessors didn’t do anything, went ahead and did things without everyone’s input or blessing, and were impatient and rude when they asked for information. This was all true, all because they were expected to make big changes and bring in funding but weren’t given enough information, direction, or resources to do so. This was a sign of dysfunction at the organizational level.

    I ended up in the same boat after two years. In my first two years, I had access and resources to get things done, then my boss left, our access and resources dried up.

    Reply
  25. Soupspoon McGee

    Mistakes I made as a new employee at various jobs (and lessons):
    -Provided TMI about my personal life. Even if other people are sharing, hold back and establish your reputation first. Think first about the reputation you want to establish–almost as a role you’ll play–and act accordingly. Do you want to be known as the adorable flake with the train-wreck love life?
    -Complained. I am embarrassed to say that I repeatedly complained about my salary, office, the temperature, and the filing system. Reputation became annoying, whiny flake, albeit competent.
    -Brought up my degree/previous career. They already know.

    Reply
    1. LS

      I also did some of this in my first job – or 3 – what can I say? I’m a slow learner ;)

      Complaining, definitely. Having opinions on things I didn’t understand / wasn’t qualified to have an opinion on. Not asking enough / the right questions. Oversharing. *sigh*

      Reply
  26. SystemsLady

    Also, if you’re wise enough to request criticism, make sure to respond with a thank you! I recently sent an email with a couple tips in response to a new coworker who had done a really good job on a first draft and requested feedback. Especially looking at the work now I’m not even entirely certain he ever read past “good job” :(.

    Reply
  27. CrazyEngineerGirl

    Ok, kind of a petty thing, but something that annoys me…

    I HATE when people take my parking place. Are parking places assigned? No. Do I (and basically every other single employee) park in the same spot every day? Yes. And I have strong feelings about my parking place. It’s pretty nice. Second to last at the far end of the first row. Shaded in the afternoon. Close enough to remote start in the afternoon from my office window (it’s really freaking hot where I live.) There is only one spot I would prefer more, and my boss parks there.

    So, they’re not assigned spots and I know this means I can’t get externally angry about someone taking mine. I get that, I really do. But oh brother, if I come around the corner and someone is parked in my spot? I am not a happy camper. And if that someone is a new employee? Yeah, it’s petty and irrational, but I’m not going to like you. You’ll be facing an uphill battle for which you have to prove to me that you are not an insensitive, entitled, jerk-face. All over a parking place. I’m a little crazy, I realize this. :) I do take solace that I’m not the only person in my office that would react this way though…

    So anyway, my point is that some ‘office culture’ things like parking places are subtle and maybe a little weird. Since this has become one of my things, next time I’m the new person I’ll make sure and analyze the parking lot and pick some spot I think is totally undesirable to all. At least until I figure out if they have any parking-spot-culture.

    Reply
    1. Steph B

      How are you supposed to analyze the parking lot, though? Do you expect the new person to come and drive around the lot in the morning for an hour + to see where people park?

      I am going to be starting a new company in a few weeks and the time that people arrive is pretty varied (6:30am – 9am). There is no way I am going to take a day before I start the new job and try and figure out a parking spot.

      Reply
    2. TreeGeek

      Yeah…been there. Middle of the recession, our 16-floor office building (with parking garage to match) went down to +/- 4 floors worth of tenants. Everybody started parking in the desirable spots and left the rest empty. There was no official assigned parking, but people were pretty possessive of “their” parking spots…me included. There was one spot in particular (good air circulation, actual view of the grounds, enclosed on 2 sides so it was more like a little cave) was hotly contested by a co-worker and a new employee on another floor. Don’t know all the details of the kerfuffle that followed but apparently one car got keyed, accusations flew between both drivers and the cops were called.

      So yes, while it’s unreasonable to expect a new employee to automatically know that they’re getting off on the wrong foot with their co-workers just by parking in the wrong spot, it totally happens. If you’re new and you notice that the same car is constantly parked in “your” spot, maybe give it up and pick a different one.

      Reply
      1. Steph B

        But I would argue that it is Not Normal to get so held up about parking spots that vandalism occurs.

        If I found out that someone seriously thought I was selfish for parking in a free / open spot in my first week that was “their spot”, I’d judge that person too. Because we are adults and right now I have enough of the “but I had it first!” arguments to deal with with my children.

        Reply
        1. CrazyEngineerGirl

          I would agree that it’s not normal for things to go so far that vandalism occurs. But I don’t think it’s completely ‘not normal’ for people to feel weirdly possessive of things at work. There are always going to be people who have ‘their’ parking place, or ‘their’ spot in the conference room, or ‘their’ bench they eat lunch at, etc. And yeah, it’s totally childish sometimes. And yes, we are adults. But things like this can’t be totally discounted as part of the office culture in many work places.

          To your point above, I’m in no way suggesting someone stake out the parking lot ahead of time. I am suggesting that I for one, would take note of what might be prime parking spots and actively not take them when I’m new. Maybe you don’t care if someone judges you for something silly like this and you’ll judge them right back for it. I suppose someone could argue that it doesn’t matter if the person is your peer, or below you, or someone you never work with or even meet for that matter. But what if that person is your boss? Your bosses boss? The VP of your division?

          To me, rolling in your first day and going “Hey, this end parking spot in the first row with the great tree that’s not directly over the spot to drop stuff on my car but in the perfect place to shade it all of the hot afternoon is great! I think I’ll park here!” might not be the best idea.

          Reply
          1. Steph B

            Yeah, I don’t really seek out a prime parking spot or anything.

            I guess I would just expect that the person whose spot I ‘took’ would say something to me rather than hold it against me? That is what bothered me about your original comment. If my manager or her manager did it? I’d also file it away as something to watch out for (it is a public parking lot with not assigned spots — if my value as an employee is going to be judged than that IS not right). I expect people to communicate at work if something is bothering them about what I do.

            We had a new guy start here who needs to plug his electric car in — once everyone knew, everyone keeps a spot open for him so he can. Reasonable adult stuff.

            Things are tough enough to navigate as a new employee, and I do think it is unreasonable to just assume that a new employee is going to just know that a particular spot is just the perfect spot for some other employee that may come in later than them.

            Reply
    3. MoodyMoody

      I have been with the same organization for forever, it seems. I have a “my parking place,” but it is at the back of the lot, so there isn’t a whole lot of competition for it, either from students or other employees. I still get annoyed when people park there.

      Reply
  28. Matt

    I’ve just started a new job and the “minimizing challenges” part is where I could get tripped up. Well, that and just coming off as crazy. I’ve gone from a terrible workplace to one that is merely dysfunctional, and every time someone throws a fit over something ridiculous I’m like, “yes! Have that giant fight over the use/misuse of reply-all! I like your spirit!” It’s just nice to see people with some life in them, even if they’re expending their energy over silly things. Last job everybody was too busy sheltering in a ditch with their hands over their heads to start drama, and turns out I MISSED that.

    Reply
  29. Bruschetta

    I think I’m at the BEC stage with my co-workers and it’s only my third week….ugh. They’re really social and I’m… not. I suck at talking in groups of people because I get nervous and socially anxious.

    Plus, they all have years together with one another from working together at other branches, so it’s
    really difficult to fit in.

    I’m trying not to feel like I suck at life, but it’s really tough.

    Reply
    1. Mananana

      Oh, Bruschetta…. I’ve been there. And I’m extroverted. It’s tough being the new person, but especially in an office when others have worked together forever. I don’t have any advice, just wanted you to know you’re not alone.

      Reply
    2. Steph B

      I am starting a new job in a few weeks, after starting my current job 10 months ago (lay offs now). I’d just found out that my boss here was also an Expanse fan and then she put in her notice the next week. :(

      One of the worst parts of starting a new job for me is the social anxiety (I call it my mental jerkface). I work in an industry that is populated with a good number of nerdy introverts like myself, which is nice, but there is always the risk of something I had no clue about (such as the whole parking lot thread above) that bothers someone enough to judge me before I have a chance to prove myself / get to know anyone, and so I worry. All while trying to navigate a new job / new procedures. It sucks so much.

      Which is why when people gush about how this new job is so great / aren’t I excited for the next step up in my career I smile and nod, but internally I’m flailing about in terror.

      Reply
  30. Fifty and Forward

    Had a new coworker that from day one made it her mission to become best friends with everyone in our department. Needless to say, this approach had the opposite of the desired outcome. You have to let work relationships develop naturally. Trying to force friendship on coworkers is a bad idea.

    Reply

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