Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bianca Knows Best ... And Helps a Liberal Handle a Conservative Workplace

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2009 at 12:39 PM

Dear Bianca,

I was recently awarded a promotion at my company, which meant moving to a new office with a whole new set of co-workers. In my old position, my colleagues were mostly liberal Democrats with similar interests. We wore casual clothes, and the atmosphere was really laidback. I enjoyed going to work.

Now, I’m surrounded by suits, and from what I’ve gathered through eavesdropping, my new co-workers are much more conservative. I heard one guy complaining about Obama’s health care reform plan. Most of them are married with children. I’m not. And the few conversations I’ve had with my colleagues have been stiff and uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, I have to spend eight hours a day, five days a week with these people. How can I break the ice without coming across as the crazy liberal?

— The Crazy Liberal

Dear Crazy,

Though I can’t speak from experience in this situation (the Flyer office is packed with crazy liberals), I can tell you what I’d do if I were in your position. However, if my advice fails, don’t say you weren’t warned.

The best way to really get to know new people is spend a little time together at a bar. After the second or third (or fourth) cocktail, you’ll get a pretty good picture of their personality, likes, dislikes, etc. Hell, they may even divulge a few stories that you’d rather you hadn't heard.

Invite your colleagues to a happy hour. There may be some teetotalers in the office, but you’ll probably get a few folks to come. The idea is to find one or two office allies/friends, so your job will seem a more pleasant.

Be careful about bringing up politics. As the adage goes, “Alcohol and politics don’t mix.” Try to find other common ground with your co-workers. (If you really want to talk politics, save that for when all of you are sober.)

If, after drinking with them, you still can't relate to any of your new office-mates, just be thankful you got a promotion in this economy. Your co-workers might suck, but at least you’ve got co-workers to complain about.

Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at bphillips@memphisflyer.com.

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