Advice column: my new department colleagues don't seem very sociable

Dear Ash

I moved departments recently, and although I appreciate that it takes time to forge good working relationships with new colleagues, my new team seem very work orientated and to limit any social interaction. I had no issues with colleagues in my last department and indeed made some very good friends. However, although I have tried to make an effort with my new colleagues by asking them about their families or their plans for the weekend, they seem to oblige by answering, but make no effort to ask me anything! I also recently raised the idea of us all going out for lunch, as my former colleagues and I frequently used to; however, I got little or no response to the idea. I am not trying to forge any lasting friendships, but I had at least expected a warmer welcome.

Ash replies

Forging new relationships with work colleagues can be the most challenging part of starting a new job. It is not easy, as it takes time to fit into an established group. It is important that you continue to make an effort, as it may just be a matter of time. People sometimes simply find it difficult to adapt to change. Perhaps your colleagues just fear that the dynamics of the team will change and are a little apprehensive about this, as opposed to not liking you. Therefore try not to take it personally.

Of course, you may just have to accept that some people do not like socialising much with colleagues. Although many full-time workers spend more time at work than at home, this does not necessarily encourage some to make an effort with forging good working relationships. Also unfortunately, whether someone will make the effort to speak to you sometimes depends on where you are in the pecking order at work. A friend once told me about her attempts to interact with her new office manager. The manager would blank my friend and only make an effort with senior managers in the department; she would ask them about their weekend, make cakes for them and bring in little presents for their children. This carried on for some time until my friend was promoted, and at that point the office manager stopped ignoring her!

You may just have to rely on your friendships with your former colleagues in order to socialise at work. However, learn to appreciate your new colleagues for who they are. Even if you don’t become the best of friends, if you do have mutual respect, honesty and trust you at least have a good base to build on.



Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and trainees, which can be put to her via the editor: or mail to Studio 2001, Mile End, Paisley PA1 1JS. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Registrar’s Department. For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, Manager in the Registrar’s Department on 0131 476 8105/8200, or


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