Guys… Ahem… Bros! This one is for you. After all of that beer-drinking and carousing in college, you have finally graduated, gotten a job, and are looking to stabilize that position. If you’re like me, you may be having some difficulty getting acclimated to a calm office setting, and you may be finding that some of the behaviors that college reinforced are not always looked upon favorably.
Unless you are in stock trading or IT, the gender ratio skews female in many offices. Therefore, overall trends of interests and behaviors in the office is likely going in a direction that you don’t entirely understand. That’s okay. I’ve compiled a list of 6 tips to get acclimated, 6 tips for turning you from a college ‘Bro’ to an office gentleman.
1. Change your expectations about your conversations about sports. If you are like me, in college you spent most Sundays during football season sitting around with your boys, trying to watch as much football and as many different football teams as possible. If you went to a major, NCAA-university, every Saturday was football Mardi-Gras Remember. This level of interest in any sport is likely not shared by any of your new colleagues.
So, when you come in on a Monday, upset because the your team lost to its big rival on a last-second Hail Mary or on shootout or on three-pointer, and one of your coworkers asks, “Oh, how did your team do?”, just try to remember that, if you could earn degrees in professional sports, you’d have a dual doctorate, and your coworker hasn’t even thought about applying for their sports GED. Change your expectations accordingly, and, if they are willing to listen, try to teach coworkers about the rudiments of your favorite sport.
2. Develop a casual drink other than beer, even if it is wine. In college, I stuck exclusively to beer, and I know that beer is the drink of choice of many bro’s. After college, I have gotten into the craft brew culture, and a good Three Floyd’s IPA is heaven for me. However, at social events such as office holiday dinners or cocktail parties, chose an alcoholic drink that is NOT beer. Even if it’s an eleven-dollar bottle of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, your colleagues just classify it as beer, and every sip you take likely generates images of you doing keg stands of PBR. Grab a gin and tonic or something similar.
3. Learn how to give compliments on clothes. Boy, this one is hard for me. I’m a tall, fairly-muscular blonde man, and apparently I look good in blues and greens button-downs. I only know this because I receive compliments when I wear those colors, and every time I receive compliments, I look back at the colleague (likely a female), and try to come up with a return compliment. Initially, these situations were terribly awkward. I would be silent, maybe remembering to say, “Thanks”. The colleague was left hanging, but, more recently, I’ve started complimenting the colors of my coworkers’ outfits, and how they help their skin tones and such. Start returning compliments by making observations about the color of clothing, and then maybe move to the material. I’m learning in this area, just as you are.
4. Be willing to engage in ‘manly’ behaviors. Listen, regardless of the gender ratio and age mix of your office, as a young, virile man, you are still going to be asked to lift heavy furniture, to repair the printer or the wheels on a broken chair, or to carry boxes to or from your boss’s car. Do whatever is asked of you, and then go out of your way to do more, and do it all with a smile on your face. In some settings, chivalry is not dead. Embrace it.
5. Keep your eyes to yourself. No ogling. Your eyes should not wander far from your computer screen. Regardless of how put-together a coworker may be looking, she is a coworker, and your office relationship should be kept neutral and moving towards the benefit of the company. No exceptions.
6. Keep yourself from viewing the office as a competition. One of the basic facts about the college ‘bro’ atmosphere is that everything is a competition. Every sentence, every come-back, every video game session, every football game, and every second amongst ‘the guys’ has a clear winner and loser. The opposite is true of many offices. In offices, a sense of community is more important than a sense of victory. Everyone needs to be happy to do their job, so you should frame each project as aiming to establish a better place for yourself and each of your coworkers. No one likes to lose, and your attitude should ensure that you aren’t competing against coworkers. ‘Cuz you’d totally own them, brah. Am I right?