The first week at a new job always brings back memories of the first day of school: trying to pick the right outfit, wanting to make a good impression and being an excited bundle of nerves. It’s important to start on the right foot, and there is one easy way to make sure you do: listen first.
We’ve written before about the importance of having friends at work, and it’s no secret that integrating into a new company culture can sometimes be a culture shock. Often, it’s easy to get over the “new jobs” nerves by trying to prove that you are worthy of this position which might mean a lot of talking and/ or humble bragging which doesn’t make a good impression. If you really want to jump-start your new role in the right way, listen and learn as much as you can before inserting yourself.
Active listening is a hugely important tool in communicating because it ensures that everyone in the conversation is talking about the same thing (which doesn’t happen as often as you’d think). But it’s also important because it signals to another person that you are actually interested in what they have to say, which at its core, is a sign of respect.
Even if you’ve joined an organization at its top levels, it’s important to show respect to the people who have built what you’re coming in to. Listening to their perspective is a great way to show that you care about who you’re working with and that you didn’t just make this move for the promotion.
There will be a time and place to share your credentials and you may even be asked on the first day. You don’t need to shy away from this, but follow it up by asking about the experience of the people on your team. Ask open-ended questions and follow up on their answers. This has the added benefit of helping quell some of your first-day jitters by taking the focus off you.
Adaptability is an important quality in the workforce and the more you listen early on, the easier it will be for you to be flexible as things get thrown your way. By taking in more than you give out, you are more able to get a sense of the expectations and standards of your new workplace without over-promising or committing an early faux pas.
These are a couple other things to keep in mind for your first day:

  • Keep the wardrobe simple and err on the side of conservative if you don’t know what to wear.
  • Don’t. Be. Late. Practice your route if you’re worried because late on the first day is decidedly a bad start.
  • Smile
  • If someone invites you to lunch, go. Don’t turn down the offer.
  • Pay attention to the way people communicate with each other and how decisions get made.

Overall, joining a new company is a many-splendored thing and can be a huge relief after a potentially emotionally taxing job search. By keeping the one most important thing in mind on your first day, you can cut down on additional stress and start to enjoy the ride.

Nora Philbin

Nora is a co-founder of Happy Spectacular, which she still can't really believe, and she's on a lifelong quest for the world's best cheeseburger (applicants accepted).