NHS canteens and coffee rooms can be intimidating places sometimes, especially if you’re new to the place. They can often remind you of a scene from Mean Girls rather than somewhere to have lunch with your work colleagues.
If you start worrying around lunchtime you might ask yourself questions like: ‘What if no one talks to me?’, ‘Who will I sit with?’ and ‘Should I just eat my sandwiches in the toilet?’
There’s a knack to surviving your lunch break and making it out with your self-esteem firmly intact. You just need to brush up on Canteen Politics.
Enter with style
We’re not talking about a grand entrance here, just don’t do something stupid when you first walk in, like tripping over and dropping your food on the floor! Be confident, smile and say hello to people…. if they don’t reply, that’s their problem.
Ditch the smelly food
Salmon sarnies are a no-go! You want people to sit with you, not run away from the fishy pong on your breath. Take a standard packed lunch to start with so that you avoid any clumsy microwave issues and you can figure out what other people are eating.
Don’t hide in the corner
It’s easy to retreat to the corner of the room and blend into the background. In the long run this isn’t going to get you anywhere, so take the plunge early and get in the mixer. Join in conversations where you can, even if you’re not entirely sure what they’re talking about.
Try to sit with a friend
Get an idea of where people sit in the canteen or coffee room early on. Once you start to get to know people, try to sit near to them so that you can strike up a conversation. If different departments are grouping together and don’t seem very friendly, sit somewhere else.