Flying Solo

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I eat at my desk every day and my co-workers probably think I’m a
workaholic. The truth is there are well-formed cliques in this office and
I’ve been here six months without anyone extending a lunch invitation.                                I feel like I’m in high school all over again. I like my job, but honestly I
would prefer a friendlier relationship with my co-workers. Ideas?
Flying Solo

Dear Flying Solo:
Everyone needs allies at work, or it’s a pretty lonely way to spend the
bulk of your waking weekdays. One good thing about your story is that
you weren’t captured by one of the bad/wrong cliques in your earlier
innocent days, and then tagged by other potential friends as somehow
tainted or undesirable. There’s usually a reason cliques form, and even
though you haven’t observed them from the inside, if you’ve been
even remotely conscious during your workdays you’ve probably
noticed what clique does what and how, who’s in charge, what bonds
you’d rather spill hot coffee over than share a meal with. That’s all
information that will guide your approach to entry. It is sticky but
military brats who move from junior high to junior high have perfected
the technique: Act like someone they’d all like to have inside not
outside, and they’ll start to take notice.

Once you’ve tagged them (e.g. the cheerleader/sports folks;
redecorating/family/hobby crowd; inner office
intrigue/ambitious/ladder climbers; etc), you’ll know which door to
knock on. Approach only people that as individuals seem like folks you
might want as friends. Explain, at the water cooler or standing by their
desk, that now that you know your job you can get your nose off the
keyboard occasionally at lunch. Say you miss the good friend you had
at your last job and hope there’s people who share your interests in
x,y,z. If you’ve knocked on the wrong door, you’ll likely get a blank
stare. But if you say the magic keywords, you should net a one-time
lunch invitation.


Be forewarned: switching from one group to the next
is like dating a different member of an extended family. Switching is
rarely successful and often leaves a trail of gossip and hurt feelings.
One or more may reject you. If so, that’s a good tip that it’s not gonna
be a good long run fit. If you leave the job make a point of going to
lunch early and often with many people in your next job. Then settle
only for folks you like. If all else fails, you can never go wrong with a
good book.