Article Mistakes to Avoid in Your First One-to-One Meeting with a New Colleague

Starting a new job can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. One of the crucial steps in settling into a new workplace is establishing a rapport with your colleagues, and the first one-to-one meeting with a new colleague plays a pivotal role in this process. While these meetings can be a great opportunity to build connections and discuss work-related matters, they can also be fraught with pitfalls if you're not careful. In this article, we will discuss the top five worst mistakes to avoid when having your first one-to-one meeting with a new colleague, helping you make a positive impression and set the stage for productive future interactions.

‘The first one-on-one you have with a new colleague is the beginning of your dialogue together. Make it meaningful and memorable. ’

1 - Failing to Prepare

One of the most significant mistakes you can make in your first one-to-one meeting is failing to prepare adequately. Arriving unprepared sends a message to your colleague that you don't value their time or the meeting's importance. To avoid this mistake, take the time to research your colleague's background, the nature of their role, and any shared interests or connections you might have. Additionally, have a clear agenda for the meeting and bring any necessary materials or documents. Logical Next Steps: Prepare a checklist for your one-to-one meetings, including items like researching your colleague's background, setting a clear agenda, and gathering relevant materials. This proactive approach will help you make the most of your meetings.

2 - Dominating the Conversation

While you may have valuable insights to share, dominating the conversation in your first meeting with a new colleague can be off-putting. It's essential to strike a balance between sharing your thoughts and actively listening to what your colleague has to say. Remember that building rapport is a two-way street, and allowing your colleague to express themselves demonstrates respect and fosters a more collaborative atmosphere. Additionally, the more you find out about your new colleague, the more likely it becomes for you both to connect personally in a meaningful way and this connectedness beyond the confines of your shared work experience will be the glue that binds you when challenges arise. Logical Next Steps: Practise active listening techniques such as paraphrasing and asking open-ended questions. This will not only make your colleague feel valued but also lead to more meaningful conversations.

‘One-on-ones provide you with an opportunity to get creative and plant some seeds’

3 - Neglecting Small Talk

Neglecting small talk and diving straight into business matters can create an impersonal and tense atmosphere in your one-to-one meeting. Building a personal connection is just as important as discussing work-related topics. Taking a few minutes to engage in friendly small talk can help break the ice and make the meeting more enjoyable for both parties. The small talk will also afford you the time to pick up the person's current mood and what’s on top of their mind right there and then. This can enable you to set an appropriate tone for the conversation that follows. Logical Next Steps: Develop your small talk skills by finding common interests, sharing relevant anecdotes, and showing genuine interest in your colleague's experiences outside of work.

4 - Overlooking Nonverbal Communication

Communication is not just about words; nonverbal cues also play a significant role. Ignoring nonverbal communication can lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations. Maintain good eye contact, use open body language, and be mindful of your facial expressions. These cues can convey trust and receptiveness. If you can, try to have open lines of sight between you and your partner (for example, don’t make a wall to hide behind with your laptop and giant cup of coffee) as this will afford you the chance to see cues from their entire body and will also allow you to display positive body language to your partner as well. Logical Next Steps: Practise your nonverbal communication skills by recording yourself or seeking feedback from a trusted friend or colleague. This self-awareness can help you project confidence and approachability.

5 - Skipping Follow-Up

Your first one-to-one meeting should not be the end of your interaction. Skipping the follow-up is a common mistake that can hinder the development of a strong working relationship. After the meeting, send a follow-up email summarising key points discussed, action items, and any commitments made. This demonstrates your professionalism and commitment to collaboration. Logical Next Steps: Create a follow-up routine for your one-to-one meetings, including sending timely emails, setting reminders for action items, and scheduling future meetings to track progress.

In summary, making a positive impression in your first one-to-one meeting with a new colleague is essential for building productive working relationships. Avoiding the five worst mistakes mentioned above—failing to prepare, dominating the conversation, neglecting small talk, overlooking nonverbal communication, and skipping follow-up—will set you on the path to successful collaborations and a harmonious workplace environment. By focusing on these areas, you can navigate your initial meetings with confidence and grace, ensuring a positive start to your professional relationships. If you found these tips helpful, you will likely find the OurSails communication platform useful in supporting your preparation for, note-taking during, and follow-ups after all of your one-to-one meetings. Right now, innovators in the 1-1 meeting space are heading over to https// to take a look at how it can help them achieve their goal to align, collaborate, and succeed. We hope you will join us.

  • Align to avoid confusion.
  • Collaborate to avoid suspicion.
  • Succeed without despair.