Judgemental? Me? Never. But according to just about everyone, I will make an evaluation of every person I encounter within moments of just meeting them. And the results of this shallow observation will guide part of my impression of them moving forward.
While I know I do this in my personal life, when entering a new workplace it's concerning to think the same snap judgements are applied to me. What's more daunting is the idea that these people are not strangers in the street but new colleagues with the potential to change your experience of, and potentially even influence, your advancement at work.
So what can career starters do to improve their chances of being warmly received upon their first introduction with colleagues?
I believe the key is moderation. Try these four tips:
- Be knowledgeable, not know-it-all
While there is nothing worse than entering a new environment and talking out of line, understanding the basics of your new workplace and asking informed questions of your colleagues demonstrates your commitment to learning, as well as your enthusiasm to join their team. A little bit of pre-reading works wonders.
- Act confident not cocky
In an ideal world, nobody would judge a book by its cover. But the reality is that your appearance will often be the first point of contact with new colleagues. You don't need to go all out with designer brands (though you can if you like!), but you do need to look like you belong and believe it.
· Use your 'pre-reading' to determine your attire
· Make your body language confident: remember to use eye contact, watch your posture and speak with conviction
· Offer a firm hand shake
- Show you're inquisitive not invasive
Like it or not, first meetings are used to inform their opinion of you. Your best bet is to keep them engaged: ask questions and ensure you actively listen to their response so you can build the conversation. Questions may be work related, or relate to a common interest. Identifying common interests early with peers is a great way to build rapport quickly and assimilate into your new workplace.
- Act natural, not out-with-your-mates
After the list above I know this sounds contradictory but just being you is key critical to a successful first impression. It's likely that on top of your impressive resume and work experience, you were hired because you could work well with the existing team. So be the best version of yourself on the first encounter, and then make a judgement call on how casual to take your relationships with individual colleagues.
Katie-Louise Patterson is a consultant at Grant Thornton. She writes about how young women can best achieve their career goals – offering tips fresh from the coalface, given she's still relatively new to career life herself.