This post will be very useful for a newbie (or not) at work. Since relocating to Canada, I’ve been a newbie at several workplaces and initially, I would struggle with starting up a conversation and cringe at the mere thought of it.
Thinking about it presently, makes me smile.
When I had to intern (one of my best work experience so far), when I had to change jobs a countless number of times during my post grad to find a part-time job that could fit with my schedule.
When I had to change jobs because I was done with my program and I had ample time on my hand, and when I had to follow my career path with a full-time job.
And even when I was still working in Nigeria, most of these simple tips helped me start up a conversation.
All the same, these tips are still useful for anyone. It’s a great conversation starter at work. You’ll thank me later, I hope.
One thing to note is the fact that, I’ve always been a bit confused as to whether I’m an introvert or an extrovert, but I’ve learned a few tricks to starting up a conversation in a new workplace.
1. Talk about the weather
Wow, this one works like magic. Good weather, bad weather… anything goes just fine. When it’s cold it’s a great icebreaker. When it’s warm, even better!
Folks are happy to get out to a perfect weather and are happy to chat about this first thing in the day. It’s great to talk about the weather because it affects commute.
Get talking with your new colleagues, talking about the weather is a shared experience for all of you!
2. Give a compliment
This is my second best way to start up a conversation when I have absolutely nothing to talk about. It shows that you took notice of something good about the other person.
Did your colleague get a new haircut or hairstyle? Hmm… great time to speak about it.
New color on a worker? Now is a great time to tell him/ her that you noticed and that he/ she has great taste in fashion and perhaps, color.
“Nice color of shirt, you’ve got!”
If you want to go any further you can ask where the shirt was purchased from.
“Where did you get the shirt from?”
Going further will get you talking a bit about his/ her taste in fashion and yours as well, and that’s how a conversation gets started. It also helps improve your communication and builds the team because you get to know more about your coworkers.
Tip: When giving a compliment, follow it up with a quick question on the compliment to avoid ending the conversation.
Be careful and make sure that you don’t comment on physical appearance or matters that are rather too personal. Respect other people’s privacy.
3. Ask how their weekend/ night went
This is my third best way to start up a conversation because you become conscious of the fact that people have lives outside the office. You get to hear really random things and you can have a good laugh about it.
“How was your weekend?” is one of my best questions to ask.
By now you should have realized that I’m actually confused about which conversation starter is my best. Haha. Don’t blame me! These tips always came in handy when I was the newest employee in sight.
The weekend question will usually come up on a Monday morning. That’s why I brought it down to the third tip. Other tips can be used every day at work.
Be careful about asking how their night went every day because it can become monotonous. You want to ask how their night was just once in a while.
4. Talk about similarities or dissimilarities
I know the subtitle is a bit misleading but I couldn’t think of a better caption at the time I was writing this blog post. What I mean, however, is that you talk about shared experience which may/ may not relate to you.
For instance, ask about where your co-worker schooled. If it’s similar to yours, good for you! You’d get to talk about how you enjoyed schooling there too.
If you both went to different schools, you can talk about what you have read about the school/ university. You can also talk about what you have noticed about people who schooled there, career progression, or statistics.
For immigrants, a great way to start up a conversation at work is to ask about the country where your colleague is originally from (if your workplace is really diverse).
Better still, talk about the country where you presently reside and you can also talk a bit about your country and its differences.
Remember, never speak ill of anyone’s country. Keep an open mind.
5. Go ahead and introduce yourself
If you are still fairly new to the company and feel extremely nervous to think of a conversation tactic, your best bet is to introduce yourself to coworkers.
Directly walking up to a coworker is still a good approach to start up a conversation since the other person would get to know more about you and your background.
Think of it this way: the fact that you were able to walk up to the person (leave your comfort zone), to introduce yourself to the him/ her shows that you have good intentions.
And maybe, this person would be willing to hear you out, make friends with you, and be of good help to you in this new workplace.
Remember, these tips will help you start up a conversation. Don’t turn the proposed conversation into an interrogation else, you’d appear to be creepy.
Build on the conversation once you are able to break the ice. You don’t have to talk for too long, you just have to keep a good relationship with coworkers.
How do you start up a conversation at work? Please share below. I love to hear from you.
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