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Q. I began a new job six months ago and I like the work, but I haven’t made any friends. There is not much staff turnover and it is quite cliquey. People are not unkind, but they will go off to lunch in little groups and never invite me. How can I integrate and form relationships? Name supplied
A. This sounds tough. I have not worked in an office for years, but the main thing that would tempt me back would be social contact and having a laugh with colleagues. I have three thoughts – get curious, reverse the focus, and reach outside before coming back in.
Get curious: If there is one person you connect with slightly more, could you find an opportunity to share your observations and ask for feedback? For example, ‘I’ve noticed this happening; you’ve been here longer than me, what do you suggest?’ Make it clear you’d like constructive feedback about whether there is anything you could do differently.
Reverse the focus: This would mean inviting others to lunch or a coffee – rather than waiting to be invited.
By ‘reach outside’, I mean finding people who work in a similar field or organisation or even an office nearby, and building your own network of connections which will make you even more of an asset, both commercially and socially. The principle in all of these is ‘givers’ gain’: by offering more, you will be opening yourself up to more offers in return.
Expanding your network will help you decide, ultimately, if this is a deal-breaker. You would not be alone in that decision – more of us change jobs for people reasons than for strictly work-related ones.