I work in a team with four males. I have always studied and worked amongst females and am finding the situation a little hard to deal with. I know it’s all about diversity, but I don’t get along well with them. Work is fine, but I feel like an outsider. How can I overcome this?
Ask yourself why you are feeling uncomfortable. Is it because they are male or because of their particular personalities? You may think you don’t get along with them, but they probably haven’t even noticed this is the case. Over 30 years, I have worked with an enormous variety of personalities and, of course, I have more in common with some people than others (and they with me too!). I always try to find something of mutual interest so that I can engage in some light-hearted banter. (Bear in mind that you are all still there to work, so you are not chatting should only take a very small part of your day.)
Meet them at least half way, and they should also do the same for you. You will be surprised, but there is always something to have a chat about – even your kids, the cricket, some current event or a pop star behaving badly.
You don’t even have to offer an opinion if you don’t want to, but ‘How about the Ashes, eh?’ can be a good conversation starter. It’s always the preferred option to resolve these situations yourself by engaging your colleagues in conversation rather than escalating your concerns to your manager. Of course, if there is any discriminatory workplace behavior, you must bring this to the attention of your manager. The reality is, however, that during the course of your working life, you will work with mixed teams. Embrace the diversity and different perspectives of your work mates. It will enrich your career.
Have a question for Manda Milling, people2people Director? Let us know in the comments or tweet @p2pManda!