There are a variety of factors that play an important role in ensuring you are successful in the workplace; technical skills and industry knowledge are only a couple of them. Differences in cultures and communication styles instill nervousness and apprehension in Canadian newcomers during their initial time on the job. Since we spend almost one-third of our daily time at work, it’s essential to adapt to the local culture and get along with our colleagues. 

Here are 5 ways to help you build a good rapport with your colleagues:

  1. Have a warm and friendly disposition; be a team player
    • Greeting your coworkers with a cheerful smile is a great way to start your day at work! Being helpful (before being asked) or demonstrating random acts of kindness (most people love a cup of coffee or some sweet treats) are other great qualities that will be much appreciated by everyone on your team.
  2. Engage in small talk but don’t gossip
    • Canadians love small talk! Sports, food, weather, weekend or vacation plans are popular topics to begin conversations. You can chat with your co-workers about their interests or hobbies and share yours. Sometimes during these conversations, you might encounter workplace gossip. Although it may seem tempting, limit your participation in such discussions; it’s best to either change the subject or get back to work.  
  3. Get to know your colleagues over coffee or lunch
    • There’s a huge coffee-culture in Canada—from professional networking to friendly meetings—”catching-up over coffee” is the norm for most, if not all. Grabbing lunch, a quick snack, or a drink after work are other great ways to get to know your co-workers.
  4. Be kind, polite, and respect your colleagues’ culture
    • Canada is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic country, thus making cultural sensitivity in the workplace crucial. Usage of “please”, “sorry”, and “thank you” in conversations is a way of life. Be respectful towards different cultures and avoid saying or doing anything that might seem offensive; for instance, don’t comment or make jokes at the expense of someone’s race, ethnicity, gender, age, or other characteristics.
  5. Don’t invade personal space
    • Canadians value and respect personal space. During conversations, standing too close can make the other person uncomfortable. It’s best practice to maintain at least an arm’s length of space between each other, else it may seem invasive. Don’t leave your personal belongings in someone else’s workspace and maintain a distance if they’re on the phone or if they seem busy.

Most Canadian employers evaluate candidates for ‘culture fit’ along with skills, making interpersonal skills an important asset. Building a trustworthy relationship with your colleagues is not easy and requires time, effort, and patience. Awareness of local culture and norms will help you blend in and adapt to your new workplace faster! 


[Sources: Readers Digest Canada, Canadian Living, Alberta Alis, The Balance Careers, Tough Nickel, Live Career, All Business, Law Crossing, Forbes, Work Awesome, Skilled Immigrant Infocentre, The Spruce]