The water cooler effect.
We know, we know, if we had a dollar for every time we’ve heard or used this phrase, we’d be freestyling in hundreds of bucks. But this article isn’t for the manager who wants to lead his employees well, or the director who has a certain way of running things. This is for you- the employee. The one who makes sure the wheels are running. The water cooler effect is for YOUR benefit, so if you haven’t been making the most of it, here is your chance
Let’s get one thing right; a water cooler does not have to be present for the effect to take place. Where you sit for lunch, the balcony at the office, heck even the car park can be breeding ground for some good ol’ chit-chat with your colleagues. The idea is to gather at a space that allows you to take a break from work, and be a regular human (you know, like you usually are on weekends?)
From politics, sports, food, events, books, you can quite literally strike up a conversation about anything. Just be sure not to gossip about your bosses! That never ends well…. Do you try to bond with your colleagues over similar interests? Is there a work relationship you would like to foster? Are you trying to learn from a mentor? Small talk is where it starts!
Here are a few tips on how to strike up a conversation:
- If you are seeking mentorship from a workmate, bring up topics related to their field and pick their brain! You will learn a lot and they will probably appreciate the fact that someone is eager to learn from them.
- If you are stuck in a rut at work, you just might get some inspiration from your colleagues! You probably work with geniuses, but you just don’t know it yet. Use their expertise and skills to your advantage by presenting your hurdle and watch how easily the answers come to you!
- If you struggle with social anxiety, the water cooler effect just might teach you how to swim in the deep end! The sense of togetherness can be a far-fetched trait in some workplaces, but that is what makes it even more important. Because you are working towards the same external goals, aligning your interval values and interests will make you feel more confident in the workplace.
Forget the mentality that you must always be an isolated version of yourself in the office. That you must always have your headphones in and give a slight nod whenever you come in and leave work. Get up and make some conversation! The most memorable moments are not specifically what we say, but instead how we make others feel. Use conversations as your stepping stone to healthy and productive work relationships!