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Struggling to get on with your colleagues? Here's how to make friends at work

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How to get on better with your colleaguesShutterstock

Welcome to Consult a Coach, our regular careers clinic for Bazaar readers. Send us your work dilemma, and we’ll ask our career agony aunt – the industry professional, executive coach and motivational speaker Jo Glynn-Smith – to answer it.

Here, Jo advises a reader who is having trouble getting on with new colleagues.

Explore the Consult a Coach archive, full of careers-based advice. Got a question you'd like answered? Email us at consultacoach@harpersbazaar.co.uk

Dear Jo,

I took a new job six months ago with a company I was really excited to join. I have a better job title, a higher salary and I enjoy my work – the only problem is my colleagues, who are unfriendly and cliquey. I’ve tried going out with them for drinks, and I’ve tried to stay under the radar, but nothing seems to be working. It’s really starting to affect my enjoyment of my job. What should I do?

Yours,

Ginny


Jo says...

Dear Ginny,

Thanks so much for writing in with this issue. It makes sense that this is affecting your job satisfaction and, after six months, I can see how frustrating it must be not to have made some inroads with the team.

I don’t often refer to my own experiences in the workplace, but in this instance, I feel compelled to offer you this story, as it may be relevant to your situation. Many years ago, I started a new job at a company at which I had only ever dreamt of working. Just like you, I was beyond excited to start. On my first day, I was shown to my desk and introduced to my new colleagues who were sat either side of me. One girl was friendly, warm and welcoming; the other looked at me with complete disdain, barely able to say hello. She then presented me with a single sheet of paper and said: "Here’s everything you need to know about your job – good luck". That was my induction.

It turned out that she had also applied for the role that I now occupied; seeing me sit in the chair she had wanted for so long was hard for her. Eventually, she did warm to me and we worked happily together for a few years, before she found her dream job elsewhere.

The relevance of this story is hopefully to illustrate how you never know the circumstances that have resulted in you getting your job. Not that this makes things any easier for you – but there may be a reason, completely unrelated to you, as to why the team don’t feel compelled to get to you know just yet. They’ll warm up to you eventually, but you can’t force the situation, because it’s simply out of your control.

Rather than wasting any more energy trying to find ways to win them over, let’s funnel your resources towards what you can control: your job satisfaction and success. By focusing on your work objectives and career goals, you will naturally worry less about how other people are behaving. I call it 'staying in your lane'.

With this principal, you'll move forward on your own path, not worrying about what other people are doing or saying either side of you, but taking regular small steps in the direction of your goals – it’s an incredibly powerful way of dialling down the external noise that can derail you if you let it. This doesn’t mean you ignore your team – quite the opposite in fact, as you need them to reach your objectives. It’s just that you are not trying to make friends or be liked, but rather connect with them as professional colleagues, working together to do a good job.

As your team become to recognise you as a hard-working team player, who supports others and brings positive energy to what they do, they’ll naturally gravitate towards you. Success and positivity tend to work like magnets – just you wait and see!

jo glynn smith
Courtesy of Jo Glynn-Smith

Jo Glynn-Smith is a transformation coach, speaker and personal-brand expert from London who works with leaders, entrepreneurs and businesses to help maximise their team or individual potential. Before becoming a coach, she spent most of her career in the fashion industry working at the highest level with some of the biggest global brands. You can follow Jo for more coaching tips and advice on Instagram (@jojoglynnsmith) or visit her website, joglynnsmith.com.

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