How Do I Make Friends at Work?

Hey Ginzo,

I started a new job about 5 months ago and I feel like I haven’t made much progress in terms of bonding with my coworkers. (I am close with one of my coworkers, but she sits on the other side of the office). It has a pretty long training process that just recently finished, and I thought I would be friends with my coworkers by now. We all have the same job and they’re friends with each other, but I can’t help but feel excluded constantly: They eat lunch together all the time and have a group chat. I know they’ve been working together much longer than I have, but every time I try to connect, it doesn’t seem to work. My brain tells me that I shouldn’t take it personally, but I can’t help but let it get to me sometimes. Advice? Thanks ❤

The Lonely Coworker

Dear Lonely Coworker,

I’m sorry that you are having a hard time making friends at work. When you’re feeling isolated at the place where you spend most of your time, it can be disheartening.

Maybe you need to reconsider your methods for making friends. For example, do you tend to interact with your coworkers in bigger groups? It can be difficult to really connect to people in these situations, especially if the rest of the group has established common ground. Try instead to invite one person to take a walk, grab lunch, get a drink after work, or to an activity you know you both like. Instead of trying to fit into the group as a whole, focus on making individual connections.

If you reach out to form individual friendships and find yourself getting the cold shoulder from certain people, it might be hard not to take it personally, but you just aren’t going to connect with everyone. Expand your horizons in terms of who can be your friend. Many companies present opportunities to socialize, such as volunteer work, intramural sports, happy hours, and other events outside of the office. Instead of heading home to throw on your sweats, take advantage of these events to get yourself out there and meet more people.

In the end, you might just need more time to establish yourself at the company. Five months may seem like a long time, but if these people have been working together for a while, it may just take you a little longer to catch up. Don’t give up too soon. In the meantime, try making yourself more approachable. Make an effort to say “hi” and smile at everyone, and people will feel more comfortable approaching you. Ask people about their lives and remember things about them. Be helpful when you can, and ask for help when you need it. These are things that are very effective in making people like you.

Also, sometimes simply acting more confident attracts people to you. Walking with your head held a little higher is an easy way to fake it till you make it.

Best of luck! I hope you are feeling less lonely soon.

Ginzo

How to Write New Year’s Resolutions

I love New Year’s resolutions. People are quick to point out how often we fail to accomplish them, but I don’t think that fear of failure should hold you back from this helpful exercise (or doing anything, really). I have failed to achieve many resolutions, but at minimum, thinking about what I wanted to accomplish helped me to live a more intentional life and gain greater perspective on my life. This New Year’s Day, I hope you are taking some time to reflect on what you want to accomplish this year. If you are, I have put together this handy guide to making the most of your New Year’s resolutions.

Picking Your Resolutions

Pick realistic and specific goals

Making resolutions that are too lofty or vague guarantees that you aren’t going to accomplish them. Don’t resolve to exercise on a daily basis when you rarely do now; that isn’t realistic. Instead, work yourself up to that goal by exercising once a week, then adding more days as you go.

Additionally, if your resolutions are too general, it’s harder to stick to them because you don’t have a specific measure of success. If you want to read more, for example, pick exactly how often you will read and for how long. If you have overarching goals, such as becoming a better flutist, make more specific goals that contribute to it, like playing the flute for 15 minutes every day or joining a flute interest group (that’s a thing, right?).

Make a resolution a month

A year is a long time to keep focused on a goal, as evidenced by the fact that most people give up on their resolutions sometime in February. Instead of making your resolutions for the whole year, make a resolution for each month of the year. For example, if you want to become a better cook, you might resolve to make a new dish twice a week in January. At the end of the month, you will have eight new dishes in your repertoire, and you can focus on other things in February.

Research

Before committing to a resolution, research it as much as possible to find resources to help you. For example, if you want to start doing yoga, look into classes in the area, check out YouTube (Yoga by Adriene is awesome and accessible, by the way), and read some background information so you have a better understanding. Researching into your resolutions makes you more invested in them and keeps them at the forefront of your mind.

Reflect

When making your resolutions, think about your accomplishments over the past year, as well as things you would like to improve in your life and about yourself. Below are some questions to help you reflect on what you want out of your resolutions.

Questions for Self-Reflection

  • In what ways have you changed over the past year?
  • What 2016 accomplishments are you proud of?
  • This time next year, how you would like to answer the above questions?
  • What could you work on within yourself? What are your biggest obstacles to change?
  • What makes you feel fulfilled and happy?
  • How do you feel about your physical health? Your mental health? Your emotional health?
  • Who are the most important people in your life? How do you feel about your relationships with them? What could you do to improve them?
  • How could you deepen your spiritual life?
  • How could you improve your financial well-being?
  • What would you like to accomplish professionally this year?
  • What creative outlets do you have? How could you enrich your creativity?

Strategies For Sticking With It

Establish accountability

Accountability makes humans actually do things because we don’t want to let anyone down. Use the power of social pressure to keep yourself moving towards your goals. You can get a buddy to commit to the resolution with, or you could start a social media account or blog to track your progress. Anyway you can establish accountability, do it.

Embrace failure

Brace yourself for the first of many Brené Brown quotes that will be featured on this blog:

“Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”

You aren’t going to be perfect with your resolutions. Making the choice to change doesn’t mean it is going to happen overnight, and you will stumble along the way. Forgive yourself your failures and get back up and try again.

Write them down

You are more likely to stick to your resolutions when you write them down because it makes them more tangible when you see them on paper. This also makes you more focused and committed to your goals, and makes it easier to remember them. Don’t try to just remember your resolutions; make them real and write them down.

Remind yourself

Just writing your resolutions on a piece of paper and sticking it in a drawer isn’t going to be enough to keep your goals on your mind. There are several ways you can keep reminding yourself of your resolutions. You could hang them next to your mirror as a daily nudge to keep at it, or schedule out specific tasks on your phone calendar so you are regularly getting automated reminders. Keep your resolutions at the forefront of your mind, and you will be more likely to achieve them.

Regardless of whether or not you succeed in your resolutions, I hope 2017 brings happiness, good health, and peace for you all. Happy New Year!

Ginzo

How Do I Break Up With Someone?

Dear Ginzo,

I’ve never broken up with someone before but I have to now. In my previous relationships the other person always ended it. A few times I have wanted to get out too but haven’t had the courage to actually break up with them. I’m embarrassed to admit that I will just kinda pull away until they finally end it or get the hint and we just stop talking. I recently realized this about myself and decided that if I was ever unhappy in a relationship again, I would break up with them instead of my usual cowardly move. But now that I have been seeing this person for a few months, I realized that we just don’t have that much in common and I don’t see myself with them long term. But I’m scared. I really don’t want to hurt their feelings because I think they’re great, just not right for me. I am also debating my method. When I told one friend I was just going to text my soon-to-be-ex and get it over with, she yelled at me. Then I talked to another friend about it and she says she would actually PREFER to be broken up with over text. Wtf? What do I do now? HELP!

Never the Dumper, Always The Dumpee

Dear Never the Dumper, Always The Dumpee,

First of all, hats off for recognizing this about yourself and deciding to make a change. In a world where “ghosting” has become a common experience in the world of dating, it’s good to hear that you’re taking the road of emotional maturity.

I have had the discussion, “Is there really a good way to breakup with someone?” many a time, often when someone brings up that episode of Sex in the City when Berger broke up with Carrie on a post-it note (and I hate Carrie Bradshaw but yeah, that’s a terrible way to breakup with someone). I think there is a right way to breakup with someone, to a point. Either way, you are ending the relationship, and regardless of the circumstances, it can hurt. Rejection sucks and change is hard to accept. But there is definitely a way to break up with a person that shows them respect and allows you to be both honest about your feelings and sensitive to theirs. When it comes to your situation, it sounds like it is simply a matter of lack of chemistry. They have done you no wrong; it just isn’t going to work out. In this case, being too specific only serves to hurt their feelings. For example, being like, “Well, I think you’re really great, but your porcelain doll collection is off-putting and I can’t see myself being down to go to any of those conventions you attend” is just going to hurt their feelings. You don’t have to lie, but a simple, “The chemistry is just not there for me” should suffice. Also, none of this, “Well, I am just not ready for a relationship right now” stuff because that only serves to lead them on. Don’t leave a door open for them that you know is shut for you.

As far as over text v. in-person debate goes, I actually don’t think there is anything wrong with breaking up with someone over text message. It’s really all about context. Someone with whom you were making long-term plans and have been seeing for over a year? Yeah, you sure as shit better not break up with them over text. Someone you have dated for a couple of months and had maybe 5 dates with? Eh, you might save them the gas money and their dignity by letting them read your breakup texts swaddled in a nest of blankets and sadness. Today, text is the primary form of communication for many relationships, romantic or otherwise, and it is in the process of changing the etiquette of a lot of social situations, hence your two friends’ wildly different opinions on the subject.

If you are still not sure which is the best route, I would suggest you decide which way based on their preferred method of communication. Are they more verbal (i.e. do they prefer phone calls over texting, do they express affection out loud)? Or are they more inclined to express their feelings non-verbally (i.e. over text, through body language), in which case, an in-person breakup may be way more difficult for them to handle? Hopefully after dating for a couple of months, you have some insight into their communication style. Reflect on them as a person and this will guide you in the direction of a breakup that’s respectful.

Best of luck breaking things off, and give yourself a good pat on the back for being an emotionally intelligent human.

Love,
Ginzo

Welcome!

Hi all! Welcome to Ask Ginzo, my advice blog! In this blog, I will take any questions you have for me, whether about your relationship, your career, your family life, or your propensity for hoarding miniature furniture, and do the best that I can to help you. I will also write posts with more general advice, like 5 Ways To Up Your Self-Care Game and 10 Inspirational Quotes to Read to Your Cat This Morning (only sort of joking about that one). I may dip into the valley of personal essay as well so I am not a totally anonymous blogbot to you, but my concern is more about you and your questions. If you would like to pick my brain, feel free to email me at askginzo@gmail.com, or check out my Contact page for a form that will allow you to contact me anonymously.

Okay, but why should I listen to you?

Fair question! I am letting you know upfront that I am not a mental health professional. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology with a concentration in counseling, but so does your cousin Tom, and he doesn’t know what he is talking about, right? While I am not a counselor, I have all the qualifications of a good friend. That’s why my blog is called Ask Ginzo – Ginzo is a nickname my best friend Deliah gave to me, and that is how I would like to give advice: as a friend. Whether we know each other or not, I am happy to listen to your problem non-judgmentally and give you the advice I would give someone I care about, like Deliah. If you have a serious problem that needs professional intervention, I highly suggest you see a counselor. Personally, I have had both good and bad therapists, and while I don’t recommend bad therapy, it still gave me perspective on my situation (like, “Oh God, I need a new therapist”). Regardless of whether or not you have a mental illness (like I do), a good therapist can empower you to make the changes you need in your life to find what you are looking for, whether that is recovery and healing or a more fulfilling life path. Again, I am not a therapist, good or bad, but you can consider me a friend. Write in and at minimum, I will lend you my empathetic ear, which is often all we really need.

Hmm, okay… how can I contact you again?

Glad you asked! Again, feel free to email me at askginzo@gmail.com, or use my Contact form if you prefer to be anonymous.