14

I just recently started a position at a new company. Everyone is extremely nice and friendly, but they all share the same non-work-related hobby (a pretty famous trading card game). I don't mind that they often play at work, I think it's cool that people feel comfortable relaxing and can enjoy the company of their colleagues, and I don't really care how anyone spends their time if they get their work done.

However it's ALL THEY TALK ABOUT. They discuss at each others' workstations, chat online about it, and it typically dominates a large portion of conversation during lunches.

Now to be totally fair, they've invited me to join on a couple occasions - but honestly I just really don't want to, even at the risk of not fitting in. But I do find it harder to relate to them for that reason, and definitely feel like an outsider in a fairly small team.

My question to you all is this:

How does one navigate a company culture where the majority of your colleagues have such a strong camaraderie or clique around something you don't want to involve yourself in? Or is it just a question of whether or not you're willing to participate or risk becoming isolated?

  • 8
    I think it's just life. I don't find football or soaps interesting, but usually you can find some other common ground, even if just the weather. At the end of the day, friendly apathy isn't too bad a way to be - better than a hostil environment, for example. – yochannah Jun 10 '14 at 19:32
  • I knew company like that, they used Magic:The Gathering (which I suspect is the case here too). Funny part was, sometimes when question was hard to decide and there was a disagreement, instead of tossing a coin, opponents played a quick game of Magic, and winner also won the argument. Much faster than arguing, and more fun. If this is the case, be prepared to lose many arguments, if you cannot play the game! – Peter M. Jun 10 '14 at 22:38
  • I've had similar in a job. The game they played was focused an out witting your opponent, mostly in the use of deception, misdirection, and a good poker pace to win. I had zero interest in the game itself, but being around them enough I found the depth of thought they put into it fascinating, the strategies especially so. Eventually I learned enough I wrote up an app that was effectively a strategy guide. After that point even though I didn't play they pulled me into their circle as sort of the strategic advisor... If you can't get into the game perhaps you can get into one of it's aspects. – RualStorge Jun 12 '14 at 16:06
10

When I was in college, all of my friends, barring 2, played World of Warcraft. It was all we talked about at lunch, dinner, any time we were together. My two friends who hung out with us but didn't play the game were left out a lot of the time because they didn't know what we were talking about.

But they still hung out with us, because eventually we would tire of WoW or they would successfully steer the conversation onto a mutual topic.

If you want to stick with this company, and be a real part of the team, you'll have to put up with their constant talk of TopicYouDontCareAbout. Chances are they still talk about other stuff, and if you have something interesting to say, you can steer the conversation some as well.

Work relationships are very much like friendships (many of them become friendships in my experience); there is a give and take. Right now you're doing a lot of giving, but if you think you're at a long-term company where you see a future, keep giving and eventually the fad will die. The game will fall by the wayside, but they'll remember you were there throughout and it will be counted for you.

  • 3
    Agree with the gist of the answer, but there's no guarantee the game is a fad which will die, at least within one's work career. For example football (the "world" version (soccer in the U.S.) and the American version (and its Canadian cousin)) just seem to get bigger and bigger, and the conversation in lots of workplaces center on that. – GreenMatt Jun 10 '14 at 20:33
  • 1
    @GreenMatt You have a valid point. As someone with only a passing interest in sports, I know enough to carry a very superficial conversation about it, but that's it. I've always been good about changing the subject, though! – Garrison Neely Jun 10 '14 at 22:20
2

This really depends on their reaction if on occasion you ask to change the subject. Maybe the start of lunch is all about the card game, but at some point, you should be able to ask about another topic that interests you. Give it a shot and see what happens. You never know, there may be someone who is into the things that interest you. Any extensive conversation on the subject may have to be saved for another time or may not be a major part of the meeting with everyone else, but you get some change of pace. Even if I like this game, I would want to talk about something else eventually.

You'll be doing the team a favor by getting them to include other topics of conversation. I hope they give other people and subjects a chance to enter their lives. It's rude of them not to ask about you and try to find out what interests you.

-1

I would like to suggest that you consider the difference between company culture and social culture at your workplace. Company culture is about the values the company chooses to uphold - maybe how they approach business problems. Social culture is just that - playing card games. What you are describing sounds like social culture, not company culture.

You know, there has apparently been a trend in companies where employers hire new people based on personal fit, not cultural fit with the company's values. That is, a hiring manager or team will assess a candidate on how much they'd like to hang out with a person after work, or how much their hobbies line up. The "How much would I like to be stuck at an airport in Minneapolis in a snowstorm?" test. As you might guess, this leads to hiring people with similar personalities, backgrounds, education, etc. It's not a good road to diversity.

It's nice and all for you to enjoy your colleagues' hobbies, but you are not at work to play card games or go to lunch with your colleagues, unless they are discussing work at lunch or during these games. You do not need to change your hobbies and personal interests to fit the personal interests of your colleagues. Personal interests are irrelevant. It is the company culture that is most important, and that is what you should be evaluated on.

Perhaps you can talk to your manager about this and ask your group leader to reiterate that the company culture takes priority, and to ease up on these social activities or find something else.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.