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Sometimes I feel like the lone woman in an old boys’ club when the IT directors get together. I hold my own on the technology and business issues, but a lot of the discussion is devoted to football and golf. In itself, that doesn’t annoy me, and I pay enough attention to sports to not feel entirely left out. Still, I’m usually the one who directs everyone to the business at hand, and I think I’m getting labeled as the killjoy. Now, that does annoy me, because I’m actually a fun-loving person. Is this something I should even worry about? I don’t think you should worry, but I also think it’s important to understand the dynamics of your work environment and be able and willing to adapt yourself to the culture and behaviors that exist in your specific situation. Cultures are typically bigger than individuals, and trying to change them to suit your own particular preferences might lead others to believe that you’re “not with the program.” Building relationships is critical to being effective, and if you can find common (though perhaps not ideal) ground to use as a basis for relationship-building you’ll have a much better chance to be viewed as a team player.
I am working in the U.S. on an H1-B visa. Most of my colleagues have been helpful, some have been welcoming, and a few have been openly hostile. I try not to take this personally; I know there is much anguish and debate over my type of visa. But how should I handle these co-workers? Most people are reasonable and supportive of colleagues trying to build a career, but there are always a few who will look for the negatives in any situation. You didn’t author the H1-B program and aren’t accountable for its positives and negatives, you’re simply trying to follow the defined process and secure an opportunity to build a career as offered through the program. I think being open and honest about your intent and motives will carry the day with your reasonable colleagues, and all you can ask and expect from the rest is understanding, if not agreement.