How to be less awkward at work

For most of us, work isn’t somewhere we’d necessarily be by choice. It’s a part of life we have to accommodate, but this tension can lead to one thing: awkwardness, especially at a new job. How can you be less awkward, then?

The best way to be less awkward at work is simply to stop fixating on the fact. Especially in a new job setting, most people will feel a bit awkward at first. Social skills can take time to develop. Try taking people at face value, and don’t beat yourself up over awkward or uncomfortable interactions.

Awkwardness is one of those facts of life which we can never fully avoid no matter how hard we try. It is this knowing this that makes being less awkward easier. Everyone is in the same boat, and while it can feel like it, your colleagues definitely aren’t crucifying your behind your back over that awkward thing you said.

How do I get over awkwardness at a new job?

The first and most important step in getting over awkwardness at a new job is just to talk to people. Especially as we move into adulthood, and meeting people becomes more and more difficult. We tend to forget that, in school, we met people often simply by being thrown into situations and interactions with them. In principle, the same is true at a new job.

Why am I so awkward at my new job?

The main way to get over the awkwardness is to get to know the people you’re working with.

Just remember, though, that they were once in the same position as you. Truthfully, for the first few days or even first couple of weeks at least, there is no getting over the awkwardness for most people. It’s a fact of starting a new job.

With that in mind, one of the single best ways to get over awkwardness is to take everyone at face value. We tend to worry and assume that people we’ve newly met don’t like us, or talk about us behind our backs. This is almost never the case, in reality—people mean what they say, and it’s just that simple.

Why am I so awkward at my new job?

The reason you are awkward at your new job is that it’s natural to feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed by such new situations. You know that you need to get to know what’s being taught to you, but most of us don’t just absorb knowledge as soon as we’re exposed to it. It takes time to learn the ropes, and this makes us feel uncomfortable and, again, like a burden to the workplace.

All but the most confident among us are going to feel awkward at a new job. Once you realise it’s natural, and the norm, it becomes a lot easier to deal with and ultimately get past.

The other reason you’ll feel awkward at work is for social reasons.

Why do I get socially awkward at work?

You get socially awkward at work because you are thrown into an environment where you don’t know anyone, but everyone there already has a relationship. That is the root cause of the awkwardness, for the most part. It can feel as though you’re intruding on an established social group.

The other aspect is that you are learning the job, and this can easily make it feel like you are a burden to your co-workers. Social interactions outside of work, while they can of course still be awkward, don’t have this sort of “power imbalance”, which can make it harder still to establish a relationship with people in a new job.

Is it normal to be awkward at a new job?

It is completely normal to be awkward at a new job. Indeed, it is far less common to come into a new job without any awkwardness. In a new situation like this, you simply can’t know what to expect, and this makes you uncomfortable and even shy when you might not normally be.

While there are certainly people with the ability to throw themselves with enthusiasm into these new situations, most of us aren’t like that. Be kind to yourself when you are feeling this way, it’s perfectly natural.

How can I be less awkward with my boss?

To be less awkward around your boss you just need to remember that they are a person just like you. Again, there is a degree of power imbalance in this particular kind of work interaction, which can make it hard for everyone to interact with their boss—especially at first.

It is perhaps more important than ever to take your boss at face value. Don’t overanalyse everything they say or do. Most people, even your boss, tend to mean what they say. Furthermore, don’t “try too hard” with your boss. Be yourself—otherwise you’ll have to keep up a façade every time you talk to them!

Again, it will take time. You’ll eventually get to know your boss’s mannerisms and body language, and any shared interests you might have.

How can I be less awkward with my boss?

Can you get fired for being awkward?

Legally speaking, you definitely cannot be fired for being awkward. Even if it were legal, it’s very unlikely that you are going to get fired for being awkward. Ultimately, while the social aspect of a job is very important to you, the work you do is far more important to the people in charge of hiring or firing you.

Of course, it’s always possible that an unfriendly boss might find some pretext on which to fire you, when they are actually just firing you for being awkward. However, again, this is extremely unlikely, and not something you ought to worry about.

Even if this did happen, and you suspected the real reason, you would always have some form of legal recourse. You can’t legally be fired for being awkward in most jobs. It may be arguable in some jobs where strong, natural social skills are key, but again it would have to be affecting your work in a serious way.