Navigating the Office Social Scene

I just started my dream job a month ago and while I love what I’m doing, I feel as if I’m completely failing at successfully integrating as a culture fit. My company has 75 employees and while my supervisor took me around to each wing and introduced me to every employee on my first day, when I see them in the kitchen or they stop in to talk to the girl I share my cubicle with, for the life of me I can’t remember their name. This bugs the hell out of me as I like to be able to put a name to a face and I want to start being friends with these people, and first step to that is obviously knowing their damn name.

I sit protected in my cubicle by a big wall, so unless people come looking for me or the girl who sits behind me (named Christine), they won’t see me ever. And I have no reason to go wandering around the office (I have a printer, the kitchen is just down the hall, the bathroom is just outside the exit door closest to me) and running into people, so I’m also not seeing many of them. I won’t be going to any inter-department meetings for another month. So unless HR creates a photo roster (highly unlikely), I’m not sure how to resolve this problem besides just drifting along in time and hoping they understand. And I hate it. I feel like an ass for not knowing names yet. I’m usually pretty good with names, but not this many.

Also just within my department, I feel horrendously awkward and have no idea how I’ll fit in yet. There’s 13 of us, all female, and I have their names down at least. 10 of the ladies are over 40 and these are the ladies I’ve found to be so incredibly nice. They have all worked together awhile and have a great rapport. The other two are: Christine, 29 and Jenna, 23. They’re incredibly tight. I share my cubicle with Christine. They’re politely friendly, but have shown zero interest in anything beyond that. Jenna is my age, which I was so excited about! However, she’s been the most withdrawn with me. She’ll come into my cubicle a few times a day to gossip with my cubicle-mate but they drop their voices so low I can’t hear them and attempt to engage. It’s maddening. Are they talking about me? Why can’t I participate? Why aren’t they being more friendly? I’m the first hire in a year and a half (since they hired Jenna) so I feel like everyone in my department’s watching closely to see how/where I fit myself in. It’s miserable.

This is an amazing (albeit, low-paying) opportunity with room for growth, so I want to be here for a while and I want to be friendly with these people, in my department and out of it. Within my department, I don’t know how to fit in. I know it’ll take time, but it’s been a month already and I’m no closer to figuring out how I fit. I’m friendly, I smile, and I try not to act too desperate. Do I wait it out and hope Jenna and Christine’s icy exteriors will eventually melt and they’ll let me into their circle? Or do I cling to the 40 year olds who’ve been so nice, even though I can’t participate in their conversations about child-rearing, etc? With our department holiday activities coming up, I’m beginning to dread it.

I’m not a social butterfly by any means, but I can start up a conversation and engage in one, I’m just not sure how to successfully cement a place here.

Anyone out there go through something similar and have any advice?! I’m at a loss here and would love to hear from you!

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5 thoughts on “Navigating the Office Social Scene

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