A year and a half ago Forbes merged its dot-com and magazine editorial staffs, and we magazine editors got a dose of culture shock. We were used to coming and going as we pleased. We had few meetings. Especially in the mid- and upper-level ranks, we didn't socialize together much. Having moved here midway through my career, from a nightly television show where I was by necessity joined at the hip with my colleagues, I loved the independence and freedom of the place.
Now I suddenly had a major adjustment to make. The dot-commers were a much more chummy bunch. Group e-mails whizzed around constantly. Announcements of birthday parties arrived, it seemed, daily. They meant we had to leave our desks at mid-afternoon, crowd into a windowless conference room and sing to some colleague while nibbling on cupcakes and sipping cheap champagne. Call me a curmudgeon, but I detested those forced moments of gaiety and collegiality. In Pictures: When You Just Don't Fit In At The OfficeHow To Evade An Awkward QuestionHow To Intern Your Way To A New CareerWhere Are The Germs Hiding In Your Office?Office Breakup Survival Guide
Which leads me to the topic of this column: What do you do when you realize you don't naturally fit in with your office culture?
My situation was pretty mild. I didn't want my new colleagues to think I disliked them, so I forced myself to show up at a share of the cupcake fetes and made a point to offer the birthday boy or girl best wishes, especially if he or she was on my team. I got used to the faster pace of the dot-com schedule, and I attended a lot more meetings.
Image: Consider the culture before you take the job.
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