While they’re often overlooked in training manuals, there’s no denying that workplace culture dynamics and politics are very real, and important.

The truth is that every company has its own unique dynamics that combine to create the company culture. Every workplace is different and has its own rules, different people, and unique challenges. Often, your ability to succeed and thrive in your role will come down to how well you’re able to navigate the company culture.

From office etiquette to politics and culture, navigating the workplace culture of a new job can be daunting. But don’t feel overwhelmed. The first few days at a job are often the most difficult. Once you’ve met your coworkers, and had a chance to familiarize yourself with your surroundings, things will start to become a lot easier.

Often your key to success –and how well you’re able to get along with your new coworkers and supervisors alike will come down to awareness, respect, and politeness. With this in mind, here’s a look at a few different aspects of workplace culture, and tips for navigating and excelling in each one.

Corporate Culture

Corporate culture refers to the basic assumptions, understandings, and behavior that influence actions in the workplace. The workplace culture of your company will impact a number of areas of your job including employee interaction, dress code, communication methods, and management style; how you’ll interact with your manager. While it can be tricky to know exactly how you should respond or behave when you first arrive on the job, it’s important to pay attention to both written rules and guidelines, and informal, more subtle cues that you gather from others. If you’re uncertain about what generally happens in a certain area, don’t hesitate to ask your manager for advice.

Office Politics

Office politics are part and parcel of working together in a shared space. They can be difficult to manage at first, but eventually you’ll find that navigating these unspoken rules becomes second nature.

Here’s a look at a few tips for navigating office politics:

  • Try to compliment and not criticize
  • Take a positive approach
  • Look for the best in others
  • Learn to disagree without disrespecting
  • Stay above the gossip
  • Be helpful
  • Let your work speak for itself

Office Etiquette

When it comes down to it, having good workplace etiquette will help you to make a great first impression. While office etiquette will vary considerably from workplace to workplace, here’s a look at some practices that are generally welcome in the workplace:

  • Treat everyone with respect
  • Be considerate of others and their workloads
  • Return calls and emails in a timely manner
  • Avoid inappropriate humor
  • Use a quiet tone when speaking
  • Don’t make cell phone calls in common areas
  • Be mindful of foods or sprays that have a strong scent
  • Knock before entering someone’s cubicle or office
  • Keep your space tidy
  • Clean up after yourself in the communal kitchen

Different Communication Styles

If you think back, chances are that many of the stressful interactions that you’ve had with different people are largely due to different communication styles. Different people communicate differently, and it’s important to look for ways to communicate with your teammates in a way that resonates with them.

When communicating, try to remember the three L’s:

  • Listen actively and try to assume best intent
  • Learn from generalizations, but supplement with your own personal observations
  • Look at the situation from both an insider and outsider’s perspective

These tools can help you to avoid potential misunderstandings and conflict.

Different Generations at Work

These days, it’s easy to find people from three or four different generations working for the same company. It can work well; especially when coworkers recognize that each generation has its own unique outlook and expectations. For example, Baby Boomers are typically motivated by security and upward mobility, while Millennials tend to be driven by meaningful work. By being aware of differences between generations, you’ll be better able to forge better working relationships with your co-workers.

While the first few days and even weeks on a job are often the most difficult, they’re crucial to your success. Look to invest some time learning about the company culture and politics, try to pay attention to important yet subtle social cues, and then strive to do your best in every situation that arises. Your hard work will pay off, getting you off to the best possible start in your new job and helping you to forge good working relationships with your teammates.