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I usually have very little time to get to know a group of people that I'm going to work with during my next project. Even though there probably isn't some research on how this influences productivity, personal experience tells me that good relationships with co-workers can help speed things up. It makes them feel part of the project rather than a mere replaceable tool.

I have a few strategies of my own but they're based in very little experience and they don't work all the time. I'm not looking for new friends but strategies to avoid conflicts from the root so we can focus on getting things done and move on to the next project.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

I'm in no way an expert to this, but these sound reasonable:

  1. Don't force conversations. Take it easy! Some people are introvert and some are extrovert; which means that some people like to talk, while others do not. And when you do talk, just be yourself...

  2. Do not interrupt your co-workers unless necessary. Interruptions slow down productivity.

  3. Get to know your co-workers. This doesn't mean you should jump to get every single detail of their personal life, but just pay notice to their facial expressions/feelings and what they tell to you. An useful place to store information you gather from your co-workers is in the notes field of a contact in an address book, or try a paper based alternative as long as you keep this strictly personal to yourself. It sounds stupid, but you won't forget his birthday or things that he doesn't like.

  4. Have a chance? Meet outside the work hours. You can't make friends with everybody though.

  5. First impressions are key. Someone who likes you will more likely start a conversation later on.

  6. Be interested in the other person. Ask questions but avoid yes/no questions. Avoid talking too much yourself or letting the other person do all the talking. Listening plays a big role here: If I were talking about a vacation in Venice, Italy; you would rather ask something about Venice than to start about your own vacation that was elsewhere (you'll get your chance to talk about that later).

  7. More good advice on WikiHow: Relationships and Social Interaction. Dating also has nice tips...

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Have lunch with them. It's a limited form of Tom's suggestion to meet after hours but doesn't require the other party to stay late. Think about whether you get to know people better in a group or one on one. Then try to get to know people on that level.

Another consideration is whether the rest of the people have worked together before. If you are the only one new to the group, they probably already have a dynamic and you just have to figure out what it is. Which you can partially do through observation. If multiple people are new, you might try suggesting everyone on the team take a personality styles test. (There are free ones you can sit down with.) That way you can talk about how people relate as a team and increase the awareness of it for everyone on the team.

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