Don’t be a Diva in Your New Job

I got a new job as a teacher-librarian after 17 years working outside of a ‘9-5’.

I came with high hopes and rose-tinted expectations about the people I’d encounter daily: 100 potential new friends, and over 1000 teenagers to inspire with a love for reading!  Still keen to write about ordinary life experiences and ways to share God’s love naturally, I was excited about this new experience and what I might be able to learn and share about the welcome I received from my new colleagues.


A couple of weeks in, I was surprised at who went out of their way to smile and talk to me (or didn’t). After 10 years working for Activate, planning events and content focused on relational evangelism, I was tuned into making friends and small talk. I intended to learn from the good and the not-so-good and write a blog about my top five tips for welcoming new people.

Last week, amongst the other notices in the staff bulletin, one of my new colleagues shared that she was fundraising for Baby Beat, in memory of her baby who had been born asleep. As I have other family members at the school, I naively thought I already knew quite a lot about the staff. But I didn’t know this sad news. I didn’t know a lot. As you’d expect anywhere, there are individuals with chronic health conditions, depression, family bereavement, anxiety, and low confidence. Many people have only enough reserve to make it through the day and are on tenterhooks, wondering if that is the day they will receive a phone call with difficult news.

As I cried over that bulletin, I realised I’d been a diva. Self-absorbed and entitled, I’d expected a welcome to match the significance of the ‘new job process’ for me: the panicked self-doubt, the daunting prospect of compiling a CV for the first time in about 20 years, the 12 trips to the Next sale to create a whole new wardrobe, and the months of processing whether I could face the change, leave a job I loved, and go back into a school environment.


Of course I wouldn’t get a welcome to match the enormity of all that! I see that now.

So, while I do have a secret list of ‘things we could all do better’ to make a new person feel welcome, I’ve decided to stop whining about my disappointments and change the focus of this blog to my top five tips for being a welcoming new person. We’re all new somewhere, whether that’s walking into an unfamilar cafe or pub, church or club, soon to be in-law’s house or university halls. Instead of broading over a less-than welcoming reception, see if any of the following help:

1. Don’t give a reason to be instantly disliked!


Set your face to smile/pleasant mode all day. As the new person, everyone and anyone could be looking at you at any time! Pay attention, and try not to take someone’s seat. Compliment, encourage, and listen. Don’t pass judgments, compare things to your old place, or talk too much (see point 3). (Obviously, all this overly polite behaviour doesn’t need to last forever – don’t become a doormat!)

2. See any warmth as a bonus, not a right (don’t be a diva).


Cherish the moments of kindness, but don’t rely on them as the only way to get through the day and be happy. Keep rewarding yourself for your progress in the steps you’re taking (from clueless to emerging competency). Your colleagues will be in survival mode, so cut them slack for not noticing your minor victories.

3. Aspire to brevity (get to the point)!


Over the past 15 years, I have placed a high value on quality small talk in charity networking, church welcome teams, toddler groups, and mum roles. Once dismissed as boring and middle-aged, I saw great conversation as essential to successful first encounters (and necessary in saving my husband from too much verbal diarrhoea from me at the end of every day). Within a few hours of starting my new job, I realised I needed to restrain myself and read the situation differently! People have no time to warm up to a deep and meaningful chat. If they are out of the classroom/away from their desk, they are on a mission. They are not open to chit-chat.

4. Be a perfect lunchtime listener


Scrap all the above if you share your break time with someone else. Get someone going on their pet subject and save yourself the indigestion of regularly interrupting with your own story. Show interest, then sit and eat your sandwich, smile, and nod. And for extra newbie points, remember details and ask about it again another day.

5. Give the gift you would like to receive.


Encourage and thank. Encourage and thank. Encourage and thank.
And notice nice shoes.

In other words, follow Christ’s example of humility. Humility is being free from pride and not only thinking of yourself. It is realising your gifts and talents are a gift from God, that your worth is in Him, not in how other’s treat you or welcome you.


Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:4

There’s so much to unpack about what humility looks like today – it’s part of the theme of our weekend away next year, and Philippians 2:4 is our focus verse.

Take a moment to consider:
What motivates your work and service?

I’d love to hear how Philippians 2:4 resonates with you in your current situation.


We’d love you to join us for a weekend of worship, workshops, great food, thought-provoking conversation, and an AMAZING WELCOME! Find out more here

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