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Learn from differences

Question :

I am an accounting graduate working for a small business as an accounts clerk. My present supervisor and colleagues are all Form Five graduates with some accounting qualifications. As such, there are some differences in our backgrounds and our values, and I am finding it difficult to build up rapport and to talk about topics other than normal job duties. What can I do to connect?

Posted by Tom on Saturday, 20 Sep 2014

Comments :

The joy of working is that you will be guaranteed to work with a diverse variety of people, with different professional and personal backgrounds. 

 Your job will introduce you to skills, cultures and personalities you would not otherwise have exposure to, and this is something that most people quickly learn to appreciate.

In your particular situation, where you feel isolated due to your colleagues all having a very different career path to you, there are a variety of ways to approach the issue. 

Show willingness and ambition to learn what you are lacking by asking your supervisor and colleagues for guidance. 

They should appreciate that your level of experience and knowledge is different to theirs and accordingly give you the help you need to get up and running.

A healthy organisation should foster progress and assist ambitious individuals to achieve their goals.

The right attitude and hard work will always gain your colleagues’ respect and acceptance.

It would seem sensible to both impress and educate your colleagues with the skills you have gained via the different path you have taken.

Try to break away from conversations about normal job duties by engaging colleagues in a social situation. If the conversation in the office is dominated by work issues, then allow less formal opportunities to build rapport such as lunch, sports or a drink after work. 

While you are introduced to your colleagues via your work, there is no rule against you becoming friends and you should therefore allow your normal personality to play a part in your daily interaction.

Embrace the differences in your backgrounds and approach things from the outlook that variety gives different perspectives on issues and, as a result, a wider and more balanced opinion. 

 Discuss your differences with understanding and assurance – people respect confidence and this is just as true in the workplace as in your social life.

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