“Fitting In” to a Group Culture Can be Tricky and How To Ensure YOU Fit
All groups of people have a culture. It’s the shared pattern of behavior along with beliefs, values, systems of knowledge and communication. It can be subtle and it can be overt. Families have specific cultures, as do businesses, schools, and sports. Certainly, the group you work within has a culture, which may be part of a bigger business-wide culture.
When a new person enters into a group, the first order of business is to “fit in”. That means to start adopting the various behaviors that define that group. It can be tricky because sometimes, the behaviors can be so subtle that you miss them. No matter how subtle the icons of a group are, we all seek to belong to the group we have just aligned with.
When we fail to fit in, it can be miserable no matter if it is in a new family or place of business. It also isn’t supportive of you doing your best work in those situations.
Some people try to ignore the lack of integration at work and rationalize that they are there to focus on the work. You really can’t ignore it because it permeates everything you do. People aren’t as forthcoming to share information or support and you get left out of social interactions. It’s very uncomfortable.
This happens when you don’t really connect with the people you work with. You may have done the same things to interact with your peers in other jobs and that seems to have worked. Why not here?
Most of us have figured out how to navigate the majority of situations and people that come our way in life. The deal is, your approach may not work occasionally and when it doesn’t we are kind of blown away by the lack of positive response.
That means you have to change your standard approach and try something new. Ignoring the dynamics will only make things worse. I suggest focusing on developing a relationship with the informal leader as a place to start. Every group has one. By focusing on that person, other people will start noticing the budding relationship and be more open and friendly. If not that person, there may be another person you do feel a bit more affinity with to concentrate your relationship building.
“Fitting in” is all about developing relationships, which is something we can sometimes forget about. Luckily, this doesn’t happen very often but most people report that at least one time in their life, it happens. I hope this equips you if and when it happens to you.
Brought to you by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – dedicated to unleashing your professional potential. Introvert Whisperer