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I am a kind of a reserved person who minds her own business at the office. I do not socialize much at the workplace and feel it awkward to talk about the daily soaps or interfere in one's personal life or for that matter even talk about the ongoing political affairs of the country or the world. I feel that these are out of our scope and we have no say in it at all. It is more of, something would happen irrespective of my opinion. So, I keep mum during those kind of discussions or avoid if possible. But, there are instances where I can speak about a topic I know for as long as enough. May be this kind of attitude makes people call me as a moody one.

It even happens that a lot of information gets passed around during these conversations and most of the times, I am the last person to know. This makes me feel aloof and I get sad sometimes.

At the same time, there were instances when people spoke to me only because there was no one else to speak to. I was more of a fallback person and that makes me more uncomfortable. And there were times, when people would take advantage of me, try to get work done from me and not talk later. Basically, I was being used. I was not able to differentiate between a casual talk, fallback talk and 'getting used by them' talk.

That is a hotchpotch of thoughts in my mind. I want to change this attitude and socialize more in the office. What I want to do is 'How do I effectively socialize with my co-workers' without interfering in each others' personal lives?

I have browsed through the site and found this question. Socializing with full timers. It did give me a few pointers. Since, mine is a more elaborate one, I need more help.

I have thought of a few options. But, I have doubts about it. Kindly advice me w.r.t these. Also, please add a few of your own ideas which you think might help me.

  • Meeting at the water cooler or have lunch together. There are always groups in the project. How do I know which group I need to move around with?
  • Tea/Coffee break I do not drink tea/coffee and having such break seems odd to me. But, I am willing to forgo that and hang around.
  • Cracking jokes now and then seems to be a good option but I have no idea when/what to crack one/about. How do I ensure that I don't come across as a silly woman?
  • I do not socialize much during weekends and hence the week starting discusssions are really awkward to me when people ask me how I had spent my weekend. My answer is a simple one sentence and people get disinterested very soon.
  • There are times, when co-workers of one group indulge in open blasphemy or various kinds of 'isms'. This is one topic that binds a group together and I am not comfortable with any kind of 'isms' let alone talk about it. Or for that matter, it could be a love/hate towards a person or a group that binds them together. Though I do not share my thoughts with them, I am not comfortable being in that group, and I end up being alone, again. I have no idea if such discussions can be dodged and if yes, how? These co-workers could be my superiors whom I report to directly or could be any random colleague. I do not want to end up being Yes (wo)man.

This might come across as a too broad question for IPS. But, my question is 'How do I effectively socialize with my co-workers'. The other sub questions are the ways for that question but do not divert from the main one. Kindly do not vote down or close it. I am ready to rephrase it to get the right set of answers.

closed as too broad by Magisch, sphennings, A J, Rainbacon, Alina Cretu Apr 16 '18 at 6:28

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    You're asking about a lot of situations here, and a lot of guidance. I think books have been written on this subject, and that your question isn't inviting good answers that can answer all these points at once. Could you narrow it down to one specific situation and one specific skill you were struggling with during that situation? – Tinkeringbell Apr 8 '18 at 13:19
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    Is it socializing in the larger-scale sense that is your aim, or just smaller-scale social interactions like conversations? interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/2475/… may be relevant... – user16064 Apr 8 '18 at 13:41
  • @topomorto This one does help me. Also, I am looking for advises to increase my rapport during daily conversations at the office. – user149332 Apr 8 '18 at 13:47
  • Makes sense. One more question: does it seem to you that your colleagues themselves generally have the levels of maturity needed to get along with people with different characters, interests, and senses of humour? Or do they seem like a bunch of teenagers who have to try to be 'like each other' to get on? – user16064 Apr 8 '18 at 13:50
  • @topomorto I have worked in various offices/projects and there always seems to be one common factor that binds them together. It could be anywhere from coming from same place of origin or speaking same mother tongue or sharing a common grudge. Sometimes, there were even those who were mature enough to include another person into their group but that is a rare case. I have asked this as a general question. There are chances that I might move to a new project in the near future and I want to ensure I do not go through the same problem. – user149332 Apr 8 '18 at 14:01
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I'm very utilitarian and heavily influenced by AI research and their approach to intelligence and "social intelligence". So if our view's don't at least partly correlate you will probably not find my answer super useful.

In my opinion (some may disagree, as usual) social chit-chat, banter, small-talk and gossip is all the same. People aim to (1) discuss some more or less abstract scenario to figure out the best behavior/action to reach their goal or (2) people try to identify your goals to make sense of actions proposed in (1). Different types of talk only vary in how these scenarios are embodied, for example banter is commonly a sandbox for actually acting through such scenarios (a literal mock up).

In that respect I usually find it easy to connect with random people or co-workers. If I don't feel like sharing something personal on the topic I can often contribute a less personal, more abstract scenario.

For example: "Hey, how was your weekend?" (aka. did you find any [for the asker] new or interesting way to waste your time and have some fun.) If I don't want or have something catchy that I did I could respond with: "Good, good. I've read this article saying that they do paragliding close by. I wonder if that's worth it.". Then we can have a pro/con discussion and share such goals ["I think thats too dangerous."] or strategies ["Awesome how do I sign up?"].


For your strategies to becoming more socially engaged

Meeting at the water cooler or have lunch together. There are always groups in the project. How do I know which group I need to move around with?

Usually the one that you have the most common interest with. For me that is the group that currently discusses some AI stuff, my current project group or the one with the prettiest women I don't know yet (The search for a decent looking and smart partner proofs more tedious then getting a PhD in a technical subject).

However, that is my interest. For you that may be different; I suggest you ponder what your goals are and through that what you are interested in. Once you know your goals it's easy to ask "how does this group help me achieve that" and figure it out via through trial and error. You are doing a guided search rather then random guessing.

Don't be to afraid to try different groups or follow interesting people. "trying to expand your social circle" is generally accepted and encouraged by most.

Tea/Coffee break I do not drink tea/coffee and having such break seems odd to me. But, I am willing to forgo that and hang around.

What? Sacrilege! Okay, I also drink neither; I stick to water and the occasional coke if I need to stay up late. From my experience that is accepted as well. The goal isn't to drink beverage, but to create a relaxed atmosphere and engage in one of those goal and policy discussions. "Optimizing strategy" and being prepared for different scenarios matters a lot to people.

For example you can use the coffee break to say "Hey, I've noticed you always hang out with X; at least in the office. How did you get to know each other?" but what you are asking is: "What is your strategy for meeting new people and come off as so social? I am very interested your approach, because I try to improve technique." (which you are, you ask on this SE) Suddenly you are (1) social and (2) discuss becoming even more social in your personal context. Win-win.

Cracking jokes now and then seems to be a good option but I have no idea when/what to crack one/about. How do I ensure that I don't come across as a silly woman?

You can always make a joke. It's what kind of joke you're telling that makes the difference. Generally if it is elevating another person then it hardly goes wrong. Worst case, people don't understand the joke and your simply making somebody a compliment. Best case you are making a compliment AND show that you are fun to be around and people tend to gravitate to fun people.

Do NOT however use jokes on someone else's expense. That rarely works unless your doing banter in a group of friends. Self deprecating humor is also something that can backfire in a purely professional context. If I don't understand the joke I will think your incompetent.

An interesting twist that I am doing; that I don't really see elsewhere is self-elevating humor. It may be slightly narcissistic, but it (1) builds your self-confidence and (2) makes people laugh. The idea is to elevate yourself so much over the top that it becomes clear you are goofing around. I refrain from giving an example, because somebody on SE will read it as arrogant without the corresponding body-language.

I do not socialize much during weekends and hence the week starting discussions are really awkward to me when people ask me how I had spent my weekend. My answer is a simple one sentence and people get disinterested very soon.

See my example above. It's not about what you actually did but if you know anything new or fun that they could do. You could tell people that you've read a post from a random dude on what to respond this very question and then have a meta discussion about the question "What did you do this weekend?" :D

There are times, when co-workers of one group indulge in open blasphemy or various kinds of 'isms'. This is one topic that binds a group together and I am not comfortable with any kind of 'isms' let alone talk about it. Or for that matter, it could be a love/hate towards a person or a group that binds them together. Though I do not share my thoughts with them, I am not comfortable being in that group, and I end up being alone, again. I have no idea if such discussions can be dodged and if yes, how? These co-workers could be my superiors whom I report to directly or could be any random colleague. I do not want to end up being Yes (wo)man.

I don't quite get what you mean by 'isms' and if it is literal blasphemy or if it's a metaphor. I will assume you mean general gossip; odds are you are not from a deeply religious country / state.

If you don't like it vote with your feet and walk away. People tend to respect consistent behavior. If somebody asks you can be blunt and say "I am really uncomfortable with this topic and don't want to talk about it." You give people room to do what they think is good and they will probably do the same in return.

If you can't walk away e.g. a meeting, you can always be polite and ask if that can be discussed later and if you could stick to the topics of the meeting for the time being. The idea of a meeting is to really focus on one topic and not waste people's time. Worst case you come off as work focused and task driven (which in a work place is a good thing); best case you come off as somebody that can lead a conversation and can take responsibility in a project.

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