I moved into a new neighborhood. I thought I was moving into a new house. As with most changes, this one was fraught with anticipation, concern, comparisons to what I left behind and the ideal that no actual house will meet.
So there I was, getting the house ready to occupy when a new neighbor stopped by with her two-year-old son. “Welcome to the neighborhood” she said and we had a lovely visit about our homes, gardens, walks in the area, and general new neighbor conversation. The next day, two other neighbors came by expressly to say hello and welcome me. How warm and sweet. With those two visits my house went from a single residence to part of a community. I felt welcomed and excited to learn about the mix of people nearby. Who were the gardeners? the walkers? the bikers? Who were raising children and who were empty nesters or living single? It wasn’t just about painting the walls the colors I wanted but about joining in the fabric of life played out in the space created between the connecting homes.
For some people this may seem obvious, but it isn’t a given. I have never lived in a community like the new one, where people make a point of welcoming you in. The power of that simple gesture changed my view of the place from a collection of houses to a community that would include me. How like any collection of people is that neighborhood? Who is the welcoming committee at the job? Not assigned to welcome, though that helps, but interested in the new person, bringing them into the fold? Is the new person there to perform a job? Yes, of course. And they are also part of the fabric of the organization. The tone and spirit is created by the simple kindnesses of welcoming, showing interest, sharing the unofficial knowledge, and cluing the new person into the subtle ways of the place.
Who knows how this will all turn out for me. I know I have a sense of good will and excitement about the people I’ll be living with. When something goes wrong in the house, and it will, I know I’ll have people I can call on. Similarly, at work, the job will have its ups and downs but if the community is solid, those vagaries can be weathered with a resilience that is built and supported by community.
- What is the atmosphere where you work?
- Who welcomed you?
- How do you welcome others?
- What is the official orientation process? What does it include?
- What is the unofficial orientation process? What does it say about your culture?