Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Succeed the First Day on the Job Using Small Talk

Starting a new job is an exciting, but sometimes uncomfortable, experience. Most of your new colleagues will probably be friendly, but some may be less than welcoming or even hostile. Luckily, using small talk, it’s possible to overcome the awkwardness that everyone feels on the first day of a new job. In honor of the Tech and IT crowd, I’ve put together an FAQ on how to troubleshoot your way through your first day on a new job.

What if my new manager forgets to introduce me to my new coworkers?

Introduce yourself to everyone you’ll be working with as soon as you can. If you wait for others to introduce themselves, you’ll send a message that you are not eager to connect or that you lack the confidence to approach people you don't know.  

Sticking to yourself can also give the impression that you’re not friendly. That, by extension, may imply that you will not be a team player. And that, by extension, might mean that people will not be able to depend on you. There are a lot of negative and subtle implications or implied communications that may not be true, but will occur, if you do not take the initiative. So take an active role and be the first to engage your new coworkers.

What if, as soon as my manager leaves, my new colleagues begin to mock him or her, or start “trash talking”?

It’s common that people grouse about their bosses or their company. If you find yourself in that kind of conversation on your first day of work it’s best to remain quiet. You don’t want to open up a can of worms or get into a situation where you can be identified with somebody else’s problem. You could ask why they feel that way if you want to explore it a little bit, but it’s best to move the conversation into a more positive topic or direction by saying something like, “What do you like best about working here?”

What if you are a new manager?

As a manager you’re not going to be everybody’s friend, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be friendly. It’s important to quickly establish an open channel of communication, and that is where small talk plays an important role. It shows you are open and willing to talk to people and interested in getting to know who they are.

Once a manager attains that kind of rapport with an employee, it’s easier to assess the individual and how to best talk to him or her.

What should I do if someone I just met acts unfriendly?

There are some people who appear unfriendly when they are actually just shy. However, some people may be unfriendly because they feel threatened or uncomfortable meeting new coworkers. If a new colleague seems unfriendly, give him or her a little bit of latitude. It may take a little extra time for you to warm to each other.  But if you give people a little bit of room, not making any judgments about them right away, and you respond with friendliness, you might find that that they will be a little bit more open and willing to engage.  

Conversation is an asset that is inside us all. Tap into it to realize its many benefits like making friends — and in this case, starting your first day on the job the right way.

For more information about having Don speak to your group or at your event please contact him at:

Don Gabor


Friday, February 8, 2013

Networking for Techies

The IT crowd, techies, coders... all words synonymous with the tireless thinkers who have revolutionized modern life. While some of their greatest achievements may have taken place behind the scenes, today’s emphasis on social media and networking is prompting more and more technology workers to look beyond the science of information to the art of conversation, as an effective way to advance their careers.

Even so, such soft skills can be elusive to some people who have made a career using technology to make connections. The good news is these skills -- mastering the art of conversation and networking -- are really much easier than many people think. Below I list three tips to help get you started:

  • Come prepared with topics. My first networking tip for anyone is to bring a variety of topics to the networking event, not just about code. Be prepared with some more informal topics, like what you enjoy doing in your free time. Current events are also good conversation starters, but avoid controversial stories that might lead to disagreements or unpleasant exchanges.  
  • Don’t try to sell anything.  When you go to a networking event look for connections, not sales. Most people don’t go to networking events to buy things; they go to meet colleagues and potential clients. Position yourself as a resource to others, and they will want to connect to you.

  • Explain how you help others.  Do you help them become more productive, or do you help the business grow their revenue? Do you help people save time, eliminate waste or use their existing resources better? By what mechanism do you help people achieve their goals?

Begin with these three tips and you will see a dramatic difference in the way others connect with you at company gatherings and networking events.

Master the art of conversation and you will see many benefits.

For more information about having Don speak to your group or at your event please contact him at:

Don Gabor
Conversation Arts Media