Starting a new position in a company is always a difficult transition. You never know what to expect from those working around you. Will you make new friends, will they like you, or will you be known as the joke of the office? All of these factors have always caused fear inside me. I’ve always stumbled with “breaking the ice” with my colleagues and the reason why is because I’ve always been known to be shy.
In my past jobs I have adapted myself to the habitual patterns of the 9-5 office environment. Everyday walking through the office after picking up my coffee, I would head towards my frigid cubicle and I would sit in front of my computer, barely having any interaction with my coworkers. This lack of communication in a way was a comfort for me, however another side of me wanted the ability to go up to a stranger and make new friends. I’ve always questioned this problem and tried to fix it. I questioned where was this coming from.
A long time ago when I was a child, I was taken to my country in Bolivia to live for 2 years. Spanish was a foreign language to me during that time; it took me a while to adapt to the culture and to the language. School was difficult, especially for communicating. Kids would make fun of me because of the lack of Spanish that I knew. I was scared to make friends and it even got to the point I was scared to talk to family members. I ended up becoming an introverted child. As I matured I noticed I always have had a difficulty communicating with new people, not because I can’t,but because this past childhood experience caused my shyness.
Fast-forward to 2013, here at Next Jump, where breaking the ice was a whole new experience. My first day at Next Jump I felt welcome, I felt as if I was being introduced to a new ambiance. I noticed coworkers interacting with each other from different departments and colleagues welcoming you not only through email, but in person. They made you feel like part of a family.
Every Friday Next Jump offers a fun setting for everyone to celebrate the week’s successes. I absolutely love this, not only is it a get together to give coworkers weekly recognition and strategic disengagement but it’s also an opportunity for newbies to introduce themselves in front of the entire company. My first week I was asked to help kick off a new tradition and introduce myself by giving 3 embarrassing stories about myself (2 truths and a lie).
I was surprised that I had to tell embarrassing moments of my life, and boy did I have a few. A conflict arose within me. What is the purpose of this assignment? Then I realized the purpose is not to speak about myself but for me to learn not to take myself so seriously. Rather, to embrace my flaws and help me to improve my character weakness when speaking in public.
The Friday of my presentation I was nervous. I did not want to do it but I needed the challenge to embrace my fear of public speaking. My hands were sweating and my stomach was turning to the point I felt sick. As the hours passed I felt anxious. The fear of speaking in front of a crowd and especially my new colleagues was overwhelming. Thankfully I had the support of my boss who helped me organize my wording so my anecdotes would be funny and interesting. Also I had my department encouraging me the whole time. As the moment came and I was called to the front, I turned to face the crowd. I came to the realization that all eyes were on me, and at that moment for a few seconds as my mouth moved and words came out I noticed I couldn’t hear myself. Therefore, I took a moment to focus and began telling my stories. As I was telling my stories I noticed a positive reaction, everyone was starting to laugh. In that instant, all my fears were diminished. To my surprise after I was done with my story telling my bosses congratulated me on how well I did. Also other colleagues from different departments gave me props on how funny and great my stories were. The aftermath of this experience has shown me that I’m capable of speaking in public and in my personal life have the ability to speak to a stranger by breaking the ice. I’m still improving my character muscle “shyness”. And I know eventually I will overcome this weakness, step by step.
I realized that my fear was something stopping me to feel comfortable with the practice of “Breaking the Ice”. So now as an employee with Next Jump as the mission statement says “Better Me + Better You = Better Us” has made me realize that I found my niche with this great company. So for the newbie’s thinking that Next Jump is a 9-5 environment in a cold cubicle, forget about it! Here you will blossom and not alone but with the Next Jump family.