Talking to your Manager and Co-workersadmin2019-04-04T21:54:09+00:00
HOW TO TALK TO YOUR MANAGER AND CO-WORKERS IN CANADA
Canada is a more Egalitarian Society
Some societies are more egalitarian, while others are more hierarchical. In hierarchical societies, your manager is your superior – they are higher than you on the company’s ladder. As a result, you speak to them with more respect than you speak to your other co-workers. Canadian society is more egalitarian, which means the way you speak to your manager and the way you speak to your co-worker are almost the same – you treat both with equal respect.
When you Need to Make a Request
When you need to ask somebody for something – either your manager or your co-worker – your choice of language depends not on their position in the company but on how busy the person is. Time should be your first consideration. Start by asking a person if they have time. Say: “Do you have a minute?” or “Can I talk to you for five minutes? I want to talk to you about…”
If the person you are talking to looks busy, it is also a good idea to say: “Sorry to interrupt you, do you have a minute/moment?”
Once they agreed to talk to you and are paying attention, you will need to judge how big your request is. If it’s a small request, you can ask directly, still in the question form though: “Can you / Can I…?” or a more polite version: “Could you / Could I…?” However, if your request is big, then you need to preface it with a long polite introduction: “I was wondering if it would be possible to…”
Appropriate Topics for Conversations
When talking to your manager or co-workers during a lunch break or after work, it is extremely important to know which topics are considered appropriate for a conversation. If your goal is to build good working relationships with these people, avoid asking any direct questions about their health, money, marital status, family, age, religion or political views. It’s okay to engage in such conversation only after a person volunteered some information, for example, after they told you: “I have two children,” you could begin asking them about their children. Never ask a person “How much money do you make?” , “How old are you?” or other personal questions. If a person is not your good friend, choose the ‘safe’ topics such as weather, food, sports, tv shows, etc. To learn more, please click HERE.
When we communicate, we use not only words but also our body language. The two things important to know in Canada, is how large the intimate zone of many Canadians is – 45 cm or an arm’s length – and how low-touch Canadian society is in general. If you come from a high-touch culture, it might be hard for you to avoid touching your co-workers in Canada. However, it’s a good idea to observe your co-workers first and notice if they are comfortable with being touched casually. To learn more, please click HERE.
Making Compliments at Work
The only ‘safe’ compliment at work is that related to somebody’s good work performance. Everything else could be considered personal. You can comment on another woman’s clothing or accessories if you are a woman yourself. If you are a man, avoid any such compliments because they may be interpreted as you having sexual interest in your co-worker. Never comment on anybody’s features a person has no control over, such as their height, weight or skin colour.
Being Friendly vs. Being Friends
At work, you are expected to behave in a friendly manner towards your co-workers and manager, which means you smile at them every day, greet them in the morning and say bye when leaving. You are expected to take part in small talk during lunch hour and office parties. Many newcomers confuse this friendliness with being friends. If you actually become friends with somebody at work, the expectations are that you still keep it professional at the office, and anything else happens after hours. For example, if it’s your friend’s birthday, don’t bring your gift to work or give it quietly when no one is watching.
Showing Initiative and Speaking up in Meetings
Canada being a more egalitarian society, there are certain expectations about how you behave in work meetings. You’re expected to speak up – express your opinion on the issue being discussed, even if your opinion contradicts those of your co-workers and manager. If you keep silent during a meeting, this will be interpreted as a sign of disinterest – people will think you don’t care about the success of the company or the project. Always try to speak up, even if to support somebody else’s opinion.
Another important part of communication with your co-workers and manager is showing initiative. It’s good to offer your help to your co-workers. However, don’t jump to help them – always check first if they are ready to accept it. When it comes to your manager, wait until he/she requests a volunteer and then say “I can do it.” In Canada, a manager ask instead of assigning a task. This is your opportunity to show you’re a team player and able to handle more responsibility. This is also your chance to learn new skills and try something new that could lead to a better position in the future.
Dealing with Problematic Co-workers
From time to time you will have a conflict-like situation with a co-worker. Your first step should be to try to resolve it by yourself. Instead of running to the manager, invite your co-worker to have lunch or a cup of coffee with you and discuss – not the problem! – but the possible solutions to it. Only if everything fails, then take the problem to the manager and seek their help in resolving it. Remember to keep personal emotions out of it – it has to be about work and work only. Once the conflict has been resolved, leave it in the past – smile and keep your interactions professional. In Canada, people believe that work is a place to make money, not to make friends.