I moved to a new office building at work, and was lucky enough to get an office with a real door and three walls; in other words, an ounce of privacy. However, when I walked out of my office, I was standing in front of about 25 work cubicles, and I found I knew none of their inhabitants. (My group is very small and most are not physically located in the central Dallas office.) So now what they saw everyday (or so I imagined) was a stranger who got the “good” office, and who tied up the printer a lot and used too much paper. Only a few people seemed to be at all friendly, or even interested.
Now I’m usually one of these frustratingly sunny people (usually) who smile all the time, and say “good morning”, and carry on conversations with the janitorial staff. I like to say people’s names when I talk to them. I like to know about them personally and am interested in how they’re doing. So the situation I found myself in bothered me terribly. I thought and thought about how to improve it. I tried speaking to my floormates as much as possible, but they just didn’t seem very interested. I thought about suggesting a “floor party”, but….I just didn’t know. I wasn’t sure if you could get to know people this way (I usually don’t mingle unless I’m forced to, so I imagine a lot of other people are that way too).
I struggled with this problem for four months, and then….
I decided on my gameplan. I would make candy treat bags, and stick a note on each one that included my name, group, and a small description of what I did at work all day. I wasn’t sure about the best way to get these treat bags to everyone, but I finally decided to hand them out personally and introduce myself at the same time.
My kids were kind enough to make up the treat bags for me, stuffed with chocolate (the ultimate peacemaker). I put all the bags in a big basket and made my rounds to the cubicles in front of me. People were a little shocked when I walked up, introduced myself, told them I didn’t like “not knowing” who I work with, and handed them a treat bag. There were smiles too, but I felt more discomfort than anything else. I admit being uncomfortable myself – it was way out of my comfort zone. After I’d handed out the last bag and went back to my office, I closed the door in relief. Thank God that brilliant idea was over. I felt kind of silly, and thought I had pretty much embarrassed myself and had probably given everyone a good laugh. But….
I guess after the surprise at what I did wore off, people were actually really pleased that I’d taken the time and effort to give them a treat and introduce myself. Every day after my embarrassing “meet & greet” I had one of the former strangers invite me to share the goodies that they’d brought to work, and both times when I hadn’t gone out to get any, they would knock on my door and bring goodies to me. I had people introduce themselves and say how much they appreciated the candy. I also had invitations to go out to lunch.
My plan may have been a little sappy, but it actually really worked. I’m now pretty comfortable with the people on my side of the floor, and I think they’re much more comfortable with me. Most treat me like I’m a part of their group – I’ve been adopted.