Internships are like a toe dip into the professional world. It's a new experience, one that differs a lot from school. In fact, intern jobs differ from minimum wage jobs. As a min-wage worker, your relationship with coworkers is a bit relaxed. But in the career world, there are boundaries you must respect. Especially if you're new to the organization. And if you don't know those boundaries, keep reading. Below, we'll mention five things you should never do to coworkers.
Treat the list as a guideline to professional socialization.
1. Don't Comment on Looks
Even if you're a talented aesthete, that's something you shouldn't do.
For example, don't talk about what other people are wearing. Also, try not to talk about their fitness or state of health. This means no discussions about weight.
What About Comments with Good Intentions?
Avoid those too. Your comments might be misinterpreted. Or they might end up triggering someone's emotions.
For example, let's say you're complimenting someone on a better wardrobe. That implies that previously, their dressing choices were horrible.
It'll make your interactions with them awkward.
Don't Comment – Unless You're a Friend.
And by friend, I mean hanging out with your coworkers a night or two every week.
If you're social with them outside of work, chances are, they'll accept your comments during work hours too!
And speaking of socialization…
2. Don't Ask About Their Night Outs.
Again, you might be prying into a sensitive zone.
Let's say your coworker spent the night out partying. Maybe they drank a bit too much, or didn't get enough sleep…
The details themselves might be embarrassing. Because in a work environment, no one wants to show incompetence or signs of slacking.
And partying hard before work hours implies incompetence.
Night outs don't have to be parties. They could also be dates.
Some people like to keep their romantic lives to themselves. And prying into that (without invitation) can come off as rude.
3. Don't Ask About Private Information.
Don't ask about people's relationship status.
Don't ask to see if they're married, in a relationship, or whether they have kids.
Avoid asking about race, ethnicities, or beliefs. Let those come up as private conversations, out of work, when you have time to get to know your coworkers.
Infer that information from conversations with them.
Also, don't ask about their personal problems. No one likes people who pry into their insecurities, whether it be financial, emotional, or physical.
4. Avoid Controversial Topics
Issues such as politics, religion, and scandals should be left outside the office.
First – controversial topics waste time. If you find an interested coworker, you'll end up talking for hours, wasting work time.
This surely won't impress your boss.
And 2nd, talking too much is disturbing to other coworkers – who want to do work.
3rd, you might find a coworker with strong opinions on controversial topics. Especially ones that are against yours…
You don't want to start a political debate in the office. Nor do you want a fight about scandals and social issues.
Keep the Controversy for Another Time.
Get your work done. After everything is over, discuss the controversy.
Do so after work hours. Have a coffee, and have a chat with an amiable partner.
And when discussing such topics, be objective. Don't turn it into a fight, and stay interested in other's opinions.
Played right, you can create a good impression on coworkers. You can form the opinion of a good listener or critical thinker.
And speaking of good listeners…
5. Don't Come Off too Strong.
Especially if it's your first day.
Take your time to get to know others. Don't be too pushy or competitive from the get-go.
Remember, as an intern, you work as part of a team. And being new, you're at the bottom of the team hierarchy.
So you need to listen a lot and do a lot. And as you progress, you can bring out the competitive side of your personality.
In Summation: Stay Calm, Stay Smooth.
You probably know all the previous tips as part of proper social ethics. But many interns tend to forget them…
They matter a lot in a professional environment – more than school perhaps.
After all, you can't exactly get away from co-workers. You work in the same department, at the same address…
And you have to see each other every day.
So you must be careful as to how you deal with them. But done right, your coworkers will inevitably become amiable friends!
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