You recently began a new professional position and you are feeling a bit intimidated by your more experienced colleagues. You may be a bit uncertain about workplace protocols. You don’t want to be overbearing, but you don’t want to appear mousy or shy either. How bold should you be?
You do need to make an effort to become integrated. The first step is to take the initiative to introduce yourself to others whenever you can. Don’t assume they know who you are. This includes the boss (especially the boss).
When attending a meeting, a conference table may look foreboding, and it may be tempting to sit in a chair along the side of the room. Don’t do that. Always sit at the table, but choose your seat carefully. Make certain you know if there is a preferred seating arrangement. Where does the boss sit? Who generally needs to sit next to her? Get to the meeting early to stake out a seat. Ask another early arrival if there are reserved seats?
Be prepared to briefly introduce yourself if asked. Think about what you will say in advance so you don’t sound unsure of yourself in the meeting. Keep it short and focused. Giving a good personal introduction is harder than most people think.
If input is appropriate and welcomed, try and speak sometime during a discussion. When you still feel like an outsider, this can be hard to do, but if you don’t speak, you won’t be considered an actual participant. Your comment can and should be brief, perhaps only saying you agree with something or to give a quick example, but you need to be a part of the conversation. Take your cues from others. If only the boss and one or two higher-ups have the floor, comments may not be in order.
When in discussions and group settings, speak with confidence, but choose your words carefully. Be certain you don’t sound aggressive, argumentative, arrogant, or dismissive. At the same time, don’t be timid or apologetic for your views. Do your prep work so you know what you are talking about.
As you get more settled and people recognize you and your role, interaction will come more easily and you will become more comfortable. Even so, you don’t want to publicly disagree with your boss or argue with a co-worker. Being appropriately bold is one thing. Being inappropriately obnoxious is quite another.