You already know what you should do on your first day in a new job. You know how to survive your first week. You have casual Friday locked down, and you even know that what you wear influences people’s opinion of you. But what you say is equally important to all of that.
What you say to managers and co-workers during that important first day will set the bar in how they think of you. Once that bar is set, it can be virtually impossible to change without an incredible amount of hard work on your behalf.
It’s natural to want to impress your co-workers and show off your knowledge. You may even be tempted to help solve problems you notice that first day. But if you want to fit in, hold off on all that talking and try more listening. Here are some things you should avoid saying on your first day.
Avoid saying “In my last job…”
We can guarantee that as your co-workers are training you on new systems and procedures they don’t want to hear about how you did it before. You are there to learn about your new role. Maybe wait a couple months before you start recommending changes.
Avoid saying “As soon as I finish this HR paperwork I will…”
Your first day is likely to be pretty chaotic; you will be pulled in a million different directions. While HR paperwork is incredibly important, you so have the luxury of getting everything completed in-between other tasks. You need to make yourself available and show you willingness to adapt on the fly. Training waits for no man.
Avoid saying “So who should I avoid, and who should I get to know?”
This is not a popularity game, it is your job. You will always get along with some colleagues better than others, that is inevitable. But you don’t need to go out of your way to start gossiping. Even worse, your co-workers opinion can taint yours before you even meet someone – and that someone may have a big part to play in your career. Just a big no all-around on this one!
Avoid saying “A Rabbi, a pastor, and a priest walk into a bar…”
In our advice politics and religion don’t make good cubical conversations. In the first couple of weeks you will likely know very little about anyone’s faith or political views. There is a very good reason for that. Both can be hot topic items, and everyone wants to keep the peace when you see each other for at least 40hrs a week. Unless either of these issues has bearing on your job, avoid them all together, as they are generally not well received.
Avoid saying “I love that!”
While being personable, be careful not to fall into the trap of trying too hard to get people to like you. You know you are a cultural fit with the rest of the team because they hired you. Be yourself and you will naturally impress.
Avoid saying “When do we get a raise?” or “What’s the bonus situation like?”
Easy tiger! Maybe get through your probation period first. You need to prove your worth before starting salary and bonus negotiations.
Avoid saying “I have to leave early on…”
If you haven’t discussed this before you started your role, reschedule that appointment straight away. Everyone understands that unexpected life things happen, but pre-arranged appointments don’t fall into this category. Not discussing things like this in advance with your manager shows a lack of respect and communication on your part.
Avoid saying “My old boss was clueless/a bully/the worst human ever.”
Your previous boss may have been all those things are worse. But negative comments and complaints are damaging to your good name. If you are taking about the people you worked with this way, what’s to say you won’t talk the same way about your current colleagues? Keep the bad mouthing to a minimum and maintain your professional demeanour.
Over time you will earn a level of casualness with your co-workers and can have more relaxed conversation together. There will be laughs and jokes a plenty. Just not quite yet. Get a feel of your work environment. Watch your body language. Keep conversations positive and show you are open minded. Don’t alienate people with ill-phrased questions that make you look dumb. Project a high energy and a good attitude. And lastly spend more time listening and less time talking in the first few weeks.