Have you ever awakened on a workday and realized that the first thing on your schedule is that damn monthly team meeting, and you cringe? You know you are going to have to see Bob from marketing, Christina from R&D, and socialize with your new general manager. You start to feel anxious and a little nauseous. While you love what you do for a living, the interaction and social banter make you feel uncomfortable and unsettled.
You are not alone. Plenty of us cringe at the thought of extensive socializing and are reluctant to spend our time chatting it up throughout our workday. So, what do you do to still immerse yourself professionally, while simultaneously practicing self-preservation? I got you.
- Challenge yourself — Schedule 3 coffee meetings a month with individuals in your department or even outside of it. Get to know them one on one. This will help you stay connected and strengthen your relationships on your terms. These brief meetings with them can be valuable, build trust and create opportunities going forward. The best part? It is on your time, and you are in control of the scheduling.
- Commit to YOU — Most business places have social events, Christmas parties, and celebrations for work achievements. You don’t have to attend every single event. Do not feel obligated. Pick 2-3 a year you will attend, yet don’t put yourself out of your way to be at every birthday, baby shower, or happy hour. It’s not necessary, and it allows you to appreciate the larger events more.
- Save your energy — Keep certain boundaries with your co-workers, colleagues, and even clients. Setting boundaries in the workplace is healthy and will help you conserve your energy for the tasks at hand. You can begin setting boundaries by simply making yourself available by phone from 9-5, creating an outbound email message that states you will respond in 24 hours, and telling your colleagues you are putting your phone in airplane mode while you work on a project. This will set boundaries and increase colleague respect.
The biggest takeaway I have is that you can communicate your needs professionally. In a healthy workplace, this is encouraged. Being transparent about your boundaries, setting expectations up front, and building authentic relationships are great ways to navigate your office culture. They’re also great tips to navigate everyday life, too!