As we spend a third of our day at work, connecting and socializing with people in the office is an important element to improve your own environment at work. Certainly, either in the form of coffee break, company dinner, Friday drinks, or during pandemic, the virtual editions of all these, socializing at work does not come so easy for young professionals when we first enter the workforce. What to talk about with your colleagues when you do not seem to share any interests and hobbies? How to socialize when all your co-workers are Dutch and their topics sound like alien language to you? And, how to connect with your co-workers beyond computer screens when everyone is working from home right now?
We (re)gathered with Radio 95z, a radio program hosted by two young Vietnamese living in the Netherlands, to share some memorable stories about socializing at work: the awkwardness yet also the amusement of it. At the end, we shared some personal learning points on how best to connect with people at work to build good and trustworthy relationships. So tune in and listen to our conversation in Vietnamese.
Here are the summary of the learnings we got from the podcast
Don’t underestimate the power of social drinks
As the Netherlands is known as a country where people maintain a good separation between work and personal life, social drinks is one of the few good opportunities to really network and bond with your colleagues. This is where you can, beyond the office setiing, share more about your personal lives and in return, really get to know your colleagues. Oftentimes, some fun and memorable moments happen, that can lead to a better bonding between us and our teammates, and overall can create a more comfortable and supported working environment.
Find your “niche” topic to connect with people
We all know some common topics that everyone has in their mind to start the conversation: the weather, the weekend, the vacation, the weekend (oh no, we already talked about that). But what else? How to keep the conversation going when your counterpart is in a different stage of life from you, or simply come from a completely different background?
One tip we found is to find just one “niche” topic between you and your co-worker, which you can always come back to in every conversation. Is your co-worker a lot more senior with children around the same age as yours? You can talk about yourself and your generation, and in return let them talk about their children.
Alternatively, you can also build yourself a image or identity which people can remember you as. For example, someone who always brings in their lunchbox, or who always makes traditional food of their country. This could be a great starter in your future conversations with your colleagues.
Diversify the topics with knowledge and hobbies
As an expat working in the Netherlands, it is rather normal for us to feel lost and unengaged during conversations in the Dutch workplace. If you are looking for ways to improve the social bonds with your colleagues, you can try out those tips that have helped us to connect with people better:
- Update yourself with what’s going on in the country and the world.
- Learn more about Dutch culture and what their topic of interests are (first hint for you: politics)
- Color your life with hobbies and interests, which you can share and impress people in conversations.
Ever since the pandemic with everyone working from home, socializing at work has become even more challenging without physical interactions. In addition to the abovementioned tips (except for the offline social drinks, of course), some small actions we have found useful specifically during this period are:
- Spend a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting to catch up with your colleagues.
- If possible, turn on your camera to have more interactions and engagement.
- Set up virtual coffee breaks, group lunch or game events with your teammates.
After all, socializing is also a skill which we can get better in time through practice, so don’t stress out too much if you are still somewhat struggling. Any other tips you find useful? Share with us and Radio 95z in the comment.
Radio95z is an outlet where two Vietnamese formulate their thoughts, share their stories as well as others’ and ponder on their adult lives. The podcast is a kaleidoscope for them to look into the beauty of life. Meet Quynh Ngo, a daydreamer who believes all extraordinary starts with “ordinary” and is still learning how to “land”. Meet Thao Lam, a byelingual going trylingual hoping one day she will dream in all three.
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