I am a test engineer, and have switched my company a couple of years back. I had a very good rapport with people in my team, during the five years I worked in a previous company. However, the different kind of things started once I switched my company, and came to a better workplace (in terms of qualified people, the pay-scale, general quality of work, technical know-how etc). Initially I used to approach the team in the same spirit as I used to in my previous workplace. But over time, it came to my notice that people here talk, but most of them are too much formal in their responses, or even questions, and they hardly (if ever) are casual.

Compared with my past experience, I have a feeling that I am yet to get close to the team, and I am not comfortable with this formal mode of conversation. I read it as a demotivating culture.

Is anything wrong with me, or is such formal way of talking justified? What can I do to get them to talk to me less formally?

To be more clear - by closeness I mean, call someone while going for coffee, share a good news, have some informal gossip etc. All this helps bring people closer. Understand one's style of work by informally discussing practical problems etc and gauge one's good and bads more accurately, rather than formally evaluating somebody only through meetings and plan tracking

  • 6
    Different work place different work culture. You can't change the culture but you can change yourself to adapt. Btw about getting closer to your team, you just need to break the ice. Observe and learn how things goes around you. If it is formal and efficient in means of getting the job done why bother to change the culture. To much of casual may invite misuse of power and opportunity. Just a taught tough. Feb 16, 2015 at 3:41
  • I've edited your question slightly to clarify what you're asking - feel free to roll the edit back if you disagree.
    – user29632
    Feb 16, 2015 at 14:28
  • downvoted - needs more examples. examples of how you would like to talk to your colleagues, examples of how you see others interact now. how long have you been in this new place?
    – bharal
    Feb 16, 2015 at 15:55
  • This is why I prefer working for big companies. With so many people around it is easy to find others who want the same type of work environment as you. Smallish companies, are so hit and miss in that regard.
    – Dunk
    Feb 18, 2015 at 22:07
  • @bharal - I think the OP wants to "feel" like they are working with friends as opposed to simply showing up and doing a job with a bunch of drones. That means BS'ing at times, usually on tangentially work related topics, being able to ask advice without feeling judged, going out to lunch and not talking work, hearing about people's personal lives etc. Those environments were the norm before PC hit in full force. Now they are a rarity that you do miss when you don't have it. It makes your job, feel like a job when it isn't there. When it is there, you frequently look forward to going to work.
    – Dunk
    Feb 18, 2015 at 22:22

1 Answer 1


Is such formal way of talking justified?

Different organizations have different cultures. Software development (grouping developers, QA and similar roles together for this post) traditionally has a very open, flat culture. Casual dress, flexible working arrangements and joking around is a hallmark of industry. Developers have to cooperate to write software, review each other's work and are often motivated by technical challenge and respect of their peers. Developers mainly deal with other developers or business representatives. Rarely do developers talk to customers directly and they can do their work at any time of the day given sufficient equipment.

Compare that to the traditional Western (e.g. USA, UK, Australia) law firm. This is usually a partnership. Partners have a tangible superiority over others because (1) they own the company and (2) usually vote on who becomes the next partner. Although there is some review, there is much less cooperation than developers because Non-partners compete with each other to impress and hopefully become partners. They talk to customers frequently during the work day and must uphold the desired image to customers, so the dress and language is formal and hours are strict.

As you can probably infer, this creates two very distinct cultures. Although everyone has their preference, neither culture is necessarily better or worse than the other.

It sounds like the second culture is closer to the one you describe. In software development, this can occurs when a company that has an existing culture (such as the law firm example above) then hires in software developers. The difference can be stark and jarring.

What can I do to get them to talk to me less formally?

Changing company culture is hard and is often bigger than a single person. One way is to understand and change things that drive the culture. You can start with yourself, being the change you want to see but it sounds like you have already tried this. You can try to socialize with your coworkers more outside work but it sounds like you have already tried this, too.

Therefore, I would start small. Try to work on one or two key people. If that fails, move on to other people until you have some successes. You may not get key individuals (managers, leads, etc) but you may get some. If you can, encourage those people to push the culture change.

If you cannot change the company culture, you can either adapt or find an organization that has a more amenable one.


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