New boss at work? Break the ice with these quick tips

29th Dec 2017
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Navigating workplaces can sometimes feel like being constantly in the spotlight – each step you make can be perceived in many different ways (accurate or inaccurate), and you are constantly on your toes juggling office politics, coworkers, and myriad other factors. It’s a constantly fluid and dynamic environment, and things can get exacerbated by the arrival of a new boss.

Regardless of the quality of our equation with our bosses, we all get uncomfortable when they decide to move on. One of the reasons for this is that we dread the inevitable process of breaking the ice with the new boss, which can sometimes be quite daunting. So how does one go about this process? Frank and open conversations are great starting points.

The simple act of speaking and listening with honesty can solve the problems of getting to know your boss, and also make the path clear for the way ahead. Here are three tips you could use to find the time to have a chat with your new boss and sow the seeds of a great working relationship:

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Find common interests

Find out if your new boss has an interest, and if you are interested in those things as well. If you find common ground, it can be a great way to ensure healthy conversations. Light topics like food, travel, fashion, politics, movies, and music are great conversation starters. Make the most of opportunities to interact with your new boss and your common friends at work to initiate conversations. Whether office parties, lunch hours, or coffee breaks, opportunities to break the ice are many.

Take the initiative

Even after the official welcome and introductions are done, there could still persist an air of awkwardness between the immediate team and their boss. Often we just wait for this awkwardness to subside on its own with time. However, instead of waiting on the sidelines, the team could jump right in and organize a small welcome in the form a lunch outing. This would help the team members to personally introduce themselves to the newcomer in a relaxed way.

Offer a snack

Sounds rather simplistic, but remember, everybody loves a good snack. Sharing your snack with someone is a great way start a conversation. This technique can be best implemented if you find your new boss holed up alone in a corner or their cubicle during lunch hours. If your boss seems pleasant and welcoming so far, take the chance of carrying your lunch to his/her side of the office and share a meal, perhaps even a laugh or two. As they say, the most wonderful encounters begin either with a hearty meal or a hearty laugh.

These are but a few ideas to find a window with your new boss to know them. However, how we go about breaking the ice is of far greater import than getting the opportunity for it. Here are a few pointers to bear in mind while trying to get to know your new boss:

Mind your composure

Make sure you are calm and composed. Our composure is proof of the confidence we claim to possess. Your new boss is also another person just like you, with dreams, aspirations, and bosses above them.

Don’t be an intrusion

Make sure you are not being an intrusion in your ice-breaking exercise. Be mindful of time – both of yours. Be sensitive in the course of your conversation. It’s better to be silent than to speak without thought. Don’t start off by talking about yourself or the company non-stop. Be mindful of what you say and how you say it, and how you present things about yourself, your colleagues, and the company.

Do not force

It’s impossible to wrench out a smooth relationship with the boss. Moreover, it is unfair and unethical to try to do so. Make sure your conduct is pleasant, dignified, and respectful, both to yourself and the other. Self-respect prevents us from belittling ourselves in front of others. It can also prevent us from appearing to be desperate for the boss’s kindness and not so much their respect.

According to Pamela Lenehan, President of Ridge Hill Consulting, appearing too desperate to get on the boss’s good books is a career-breaker. Pamela says, “The last thing you want to do is make the boss feel like you’re forcing a certain kind of relationship. Careers are like rockets, in that if yours starts off-target, your situation will only get worse.” 

An even and respectful atmosphere with a healthy team spirit is the foundation of business productivity. When a new boss steps in, they do so with their share of doubts. It is the shared responsibility of the individual members of the team to put in an effort to welcome the newcomer and break the ice with them. Remember the points shared here the next time you find yourself meeting a new boss.

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