The Tribe at Work

I just started a new job and the people there have been super rude. They’re not friendly at all and I’ve been going out of my way to try and be nice and helpful but it’s not making any difference. How can I show these people that I’m a good person?
I’m a team player I just need a fair chance.

signed,
New Tribesperson

Dear Tribesperson,

I used the term “Tribesperson” because that’s actually a better way to think of it. It’s a collection of co-workers that will have an established social structure. So no matter who you are or how valuable you are or how nice you are, you’re new, so you’re the one disrupting the social order. This is a very subtle but powerful force. And the negative feelings you’re picking up on relate to the fact that your arrival forced the change they have to manage. You can’t really call it “fair” or “unfair,” but it’s how groups work.

374 Relax and Succeed - Be yourself no matter whatSo you can’t take what’s happening personally for the reasons above. No amount of effort on your part can change the fact that because you showed up everyone else has been forced into refitting themselves into a new shape that accommodates you. Some of them might even blame you for their revised position on the social totem pole. But there’s nothing you can do about other people’s judgments. You’ll find out who your friends are there by just being your authentic self. That way people like you can recognize themselves in you and that’s easily enough to ignite a good friendship.

So if you get what I’m saying there, then that pretty much takes care of work. You just need to give it some time. But I want to shift to the more important principle that guides this whole discussion. We can’t live our lives wanting to be liked. Then what do you do if you’re among a bunch of Nazi’s? Do you really want to be liked by them? You have to live your life being yourself. I know that can sound ridiculously obvious, but since I’m writing it here maybe it’s an idea worth revisiting.

Very few people are ever being themselves. Most people are providing performances for the people around them. Maybe they’re painfully lonely, and yet when someone asks how they are they answer, “Great!” However people do it, egos are afraid of judgment and so they try to be all things to all people that are deemed worthwhile. The people we deem not-worthwhile are those asking us to do things we won’t get in line with. So the friends we’ll make depend on their “personality,” and yet “their personality” overwhelmingly depends on “our judgment,” and our judgment hinges on our own personality. So no one is seeing anyone clearly—we’re all dependent on each other in a way, and we simply tend to align ourselves with people that push us the way we prefer to be pushed, and pulled the way we prefer to be pulled. And because 374 Relax and Succeed - Keep knocking and the joy insidewe feel “closer” to those people, we call them friends and we begin to develop attachments to them. But….

Freedom isn’t having the same friends for a zillion years, freedom is when you move from authentic interaction to authentic interaction. It’s like being in love with everyone you communicate with. But to do that you have to lower all of your barriers to your natural self. You have to stop believing in your description of your own personality. You have to stop believing that you are some things and that you are not other things. Drop those beliefs and you’ll be free to connect on a deeper level with anyone.

I understand the compulsion to do so. We all do it sometimes. But as much as you are able, don’t get caught up in your internal narrative soap operas about who likes who. Just be your authentic self as much as possible. The cool part about that is that you can still have long-term friendships with other people who also live authentically and those are the richest friendships of all.

Relax, be yourself and enjoy life. That will be plenty attractive. The rest leave up to nature. 😉

peace. s

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