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Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

Old Jan 18th 2020, 4:36 pm
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Default Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

Hello all,
I was wondering if anyone has helpful advice.
Although I’m new to this forum I’m not new to Vancouver, not very new anyway - been here 6 years. For the first 3 years I was a stay at home mum because I moved here with my little boy and didn’t have work permit etc.. then I got my PR ( my husband sponsored me it took a while) but had my second child and stayed home for one more year interacting mostly with other mums in the neighborhood.
Since 2017 I’ve been working part time. I’ve had 3 jobs in different offices.
I hated my first job because I was in shock at how people were so cold to each other and the extremely high standards they had for everything, people never really interacted meaningfully as we did back in the UK. I thought I was just working for a bad organization, my second job was better but only a bit. I’m onto my 3 job now. Been here only 3 months, it’s still shocks me how people just walk into the office without saying a word and sit at their desks next to you and carry on with their work, I mean how hard is it to say good morning. A lot of them leave without a goodbye too. I don’t get it. Is this normal? There is some chatting every now and then but very superficial. My husband tells me that it’s me who doesn’t get it and expect everything to be like how things were in the UK, of course there might be an element of that but I think people are a bit unusual here. I don’t know how to put it. I mostly find them polite but also there is something that isn’t polite about them too. Is it just me or do other people experience similar things, particularly in Vancouver. Or may be I’m just having bad luck finding a good place to work.
sorry for the first long post, thank you.
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Old Jan 18th 2020, 4:54 pm
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Default Re: Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

Originally Posted by LondonM View Post
Hello all,
I was wondering if anyone has helpful advice.
Although I’m new to this forum I’m not new to Vancouver, not very new anyway - been here 6 years. For the first 3 years I was a stay at home mum because I moved here with my little boy and didn’t have work permit etc.. then I got my PR ( my husband sponsored me it took a while) but had my second child and stayed home for one more year interacting mostly with other mums in the neighborhood.
Since 2017 I’ve been working part time. I’ve had 3 jobs in different offices.
I hated my first job because I was in shock at how people were so cold to each other and the extremely high standards they had for everything, people never really interacted meaningfully as we did back in the UK. I thought I was just working for a bad organization, my second job was better but only a bit. I’m onto my 3 job now. Been here only 3 months, it’s still shocks me how people just walk into the office without saying a word and sit at their desks next to you and carry on with their work, I mean how hard is it to say good morning. A lot of them leave without a goodbye too. I don’t get it. Is this normal? There is some chatting every now and then but very superficial. My husband tells me that it’s me who doesn’t get it and expect everything to be like how things were in the UK, of course there might be an element of that but I think people are a bit unusual here. I don’t know how to put it. I mostly find them polite but also there is something that isn’t polite about them too. Is it just me or do other people experience similar things, particularly in Vancouver. Or may be I’m just having bad luck finding a good place to work.
sorry for the first long post, thank you.
In French that's "leaving like the English".


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Old Jan 18th 2020, 5:13 pm
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Default Re: Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

I'm not in Vancouver but nowhere I've worked in Canada has had a preponderance of cradle Canadians. Etiquette has varied with people either behaving according to the customs of their home country or according to their perceptions of the way people should behave in Canada. People who have a shared tongue greet each other using it, I assume they're saying "good morning" but they could be saying "**** the English".Cliques form according to whether people talk about football or cricket. Everyone has good intentions but different perceptions.

I've worked in many departments of one organisation changing my work habits, including arriving quite early, as little as possible. In some departments, when walking in at 7:10 it feels as if I've disturbed a library, lots of people are there, all silently focussed, no one speaks. In others I'm at the desk an hour before most people drift in and, when they arrive, they say good morning and talk about the traffic and the weather. In short then, I don't recognize a standard manner of behaviour even within one building. Oh, except that, in all the organisations I've seen in Canada and in the US, the Actuarial Department has been tolerant of wild eccentricity.
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Old Jan 18th 2020, 5:14 pm
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Default Re: Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

Hello and welcome to BE!

From experience and conversations with other people, it's normal. They are at work, not a social occasion, so no, they aren't likely to be all smiles and chatty unless there is a small workforce in one area - you might get a quick 4 minute chat at the coffee machine or outside when having a smoke.. other than that, not a lot, any interaction will be superficial, no in depth discussions! Don't expect to start a social circle from people you work with, unless you are very fortunate. I have one friend who has worked for the same place for almost 30 years and goes out twice a year with a very small handful of colleagues (6) (there are more than 800 who work there) - once at Christmas and once for St. Patricks. Socialising with colleagues is not the norm here.

It sounds like you have got a bit of culture shock going on - and unfortunately your husband is correct when he tells you it is you that will have to adapt and adjust, Canada isn't England and it's going to take a while to get your head around how things are here. Have a little read of our Wiki on it - https://britishexpats.com/wiki/Culture_Shock-Canada and https://britishexpats.com/wiki/Workp...ptation-Canada - but you can always come here for a chat or a moan

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Old Jan 18th 2020, 5:33 pm
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Default Re: Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

Originally Posted by Siouxie View Post
a quick 4 minute chat at the coffee machine or outside when having a smoke..
Well, there was that Newfie woman I met while we were each having a smoke break at the office. We moved in together and lasted the customary seven years. We did have a running joke about four minutes but it wasn't the duration of a chat.

YMMV and all that.
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Old Jan 18th 2020, 6:57 pm
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Default Re: Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

My experience in general has been Canadian's don't particularly like to socialize with co-workers/chat etc, it was a bit of a shock to me at first as its the opposite of what I experienced when working in California where co-workers often did things outside of work, talked, chatted etc like an extended family, I have never experienced that in Canada yet anywhere I have worked. I in general have found the work culture in Vancouver/BC to be not the more positive and tends to become a lonely venture, when spending most of your waking hours at work, the lack of socialization really makes the workplace not positive.

Canadian's tend to be polite but not very friendly and Vancouver is very cliquey and can be difficult for outsiders to break into cliques.

Condo living is the same more or less, I say hello to everyone I encounter in the hall or elevator, very few say hello back.

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Old Jan 18th 2020, 7:27 pm
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Default Re: Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

Originally Posted by Jsmth321 View Post
I say hello to everyone I encounter in the hall or elevator, very few say hello back.
We moved into our present house more than 20 years ago in November. A few weeks later, I was shovelling one night and a man walked by with his dog...I stopped what I was doing, said 'hello' and he just kept on walking. Twenty minutes later he walked back, I stopped again (thinking he didn't hear me) and said hello. Same no response. He lived 2 houses away. Fast forward 2 years and we are at the hospital as our first child was to be born. I recognized one of the nurses on duty as the wife of Mr. No response. She looked at our charts etc, sees we live 2 houses away and all she could say was 'oh I 'think' you live near me'.....I said to her at the bedside, 'yes, I've tried to say hello to your husband in the past and got no response'. Her reply 'oh yes, he doesn't like interacting with neighbours and I"m not that fond of it either'. Needless to say their two daughters moved out of the house at a pretty early age.

In speaking with other neighbours, they've all been blanked etc over time by the husband and to a lesser extent the wife. Other neigbhours are friendly, help out, host each other for BBQ's, check on mail/house while away etc.

Two years ago, we had a huge snowstorm and one neighbour took it upon himself to use his snowblower to clear the heavy snow at the end of the driveway etc. Guess which house he somehow skipped.

What goes around, comes around. Life is too short to be a misery guts and when you live in a built up area or an office setting, some conversation and general interest in those around you goes a long way.

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Old Jan 18th 2020, 7:45 pm
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Default Re: Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

Originally Posted by Jsmth321 View Post
My experience in general has been Canadian's don't particularly like to socialize with co-workers/chat etc
.
I think it depends on the workplace and the era. I recently watched a television series called "Mad Men", a soap opera set in an office. There was much smoking, drinking, bonking and some drug taking. I was very much reminded of the last company where I was employed. The only thing missing was that, at the Toronto company, life revolved around a specific bar; we went there sometimes for lunch and three nights a week after work, whereas, in the TV program, the characters went to a variety of bars.
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Old Jan 18th 2020, 8:03 pm
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Default Re: Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

Originally Posted by dbd33 View Post
I think it depends on the workplace and the era. I recently watched a television series called "Mad Men", a soap opera set in an office. There was much smoking, drinking, bonking and some drug taking. I was very much reminded of the last company where I was employed. The only thing missing was that, at the Toronto company, life revolved around a specific bar; we went there sometimes for lunch and three nights a week after work, whereas, in the TV program, the characters went to a variety of bars.
ha ha..good one. Our 19 year old son is working for a few months in the financial district. His girlfriend is a waitress part time at a sports bar downtown and he ate there and there was some discount available on cocktails. He didn't know the names of many but recalled an 'old fashioned' and ordered one. Needless to say I think it will be his last but both his girlfriend and I recalled that an Old Fashioned was Don Draper's drink of choice.

Watching Mad Men the smoking and daytime office drinking is so different from today's white collar world.
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Old Jan 18th 2020, 8:26 pm
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Default Re: Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

Thank you all for your responses, you all seem to be saying similar things. I guess I must try to accept the way/ people are here. But I miss the easy conversations and connections etc I had with people in London. I’m afraid I will be in this state permanently as Siouxie said in this cultural shock stage. I am raising my children here And we have a nice family but here does not feel like home. I just miss the long term relationships I left behind and everything else. I still feel like I’m new here a lot of the time. I still struggle to remember to say the right Canadian words and things (Floor levels and many other things... after 6 years! I think moving to a new county in your 30s is very hard, I just feel I don’t have flexibility to change/ adopt to this new culture etc. But my husband and kids are happy here so I have to be too.
siouxie, Thank you for offering a place for me to come back for a little moan. Sometimes that’s all that is needed to feel better. I try to express this feelings to my friends in london but they say “ just come back” like I can just come back!
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Old Jan 18th 2020, 9:01 pm
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Default Re: Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

Originally Posted by dbd33 View Post
I think it depends on the workplace and the era. I recently watched a television series called "Mad Men", a soap opera set in an office. There was much smoking, drinking, bonking and some drug taking. I was very much reminded of the last company where I was employed. The only thing missing was that, at the Toronto company, life revolved around a specific bar; we went there sometimes for lunch and three nights a week after work, whereas, in the TV program, the characters went to a variety of bars.
I am sure it does and also depends on where in the country you are, Vancouver isn't known for being friendly, its pretty well known this city is very cliquey and its difficult for new comers to break into existing cliques and people are standoffish about outsiders and don't exactly welcome people into their groups.

It can be rough when your spending more time at work then home and end up isolated at work for 12 hours, isn't healthy for the mind.
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Old Jan 18th 2020, 9:11 pm
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This is so true it hurts to watch.

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Old Jan 18th 2020, 9:47 pm
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Default Re: Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

Originally Posted by Partially discharged View Post
We moved into our present house more than 20 years ago in November. A few weeks later, I was shovelling one night and a man walked by with his dog...I stopped what I was doing, said 'hello' and he just kept on walking. Twenty minutes later he walked back, I stopped again (thinking he didn't hear me) and said hello. Same no response. He lived 2 houses away. Fast forward 2 years and we are at the hospital as our first child was to be born. I recognized one of the nurses on duty as the wife of Mr. No response. She looked at our charts etc, sees we live 2 houses away and all she could say was 'oh I 'think' you live near me'.....I said to her at the bedside, 'yes, I've tried to say hello to your husband in the past and got no response'. Her reply 'oh yes, he doesn't like interacting with neighbours and I"m not that fond of it either'. Needless to say their two daughters moved out of the house at a pretty early age.

In speaking with other neighbours, they've all been blanked etc over time by the husband and to a lesser extent the wife. Other neigbhours are friendly, help out, host each other for BBQ's, check on mail/house while away etc.

Two years ago, we had a huge snowstorm and one neighbour took it upon himself to use his snowblower to clear the heavy snow at the end of the driveway etc. Guess which house he somehow skipped.

What goes around, comes around. Life is too short to be a misery guts and when you live in a built up area or an office setting, some conversation and general interest in those around you goes a long way.

Seems to be people like that in ever neighborhood, I am not super social but I will always say hello or how are you etc, and if someone talks to me, I certainly wont ignore them.

Condos/apartment buildings are interesting places, surrounded by people but don't really know who anyone is and people tend to move more frequently in such places, especially renters since renting these days is iffy on a good day longevity wise. No yards so you don't do yard-work/spend time outside so no way to meet neighbors that way, I will say the strata here did try to get people out and socialize with one another by sponsoring a summer bbq in 2017 and 2018 but the turn out was very low so they no longer do it. My wife went to the one in 2017 and 2018 and I would have but I was working still and didn't have weekends off.

I have no idea who lives in the 4 others units at the end of our hallway, no idea what they look like or who they are, never seen any of them, I know one has a dog as I have met the dog walker but never the person who lives there.....
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Old Jan 18th 2020, 9:47 pm
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Default Re: Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

Originally Posted by Jsmth321 View Post
My experience in general has been Canadian's don't particularly like to socialize with co-workers/chat etc, it was a bit of a shock to me at first as its the opposite of what I experienced when working in California where co-workers often did things outside of work, talked, chatted etc like an extended family, I have never experienced that in Canada yet anywhere I have worked. I in general have found the work culture in Vancouver/BC to be not the more positive and tends to become a lonely venture, when spending most of your waking hours at work, the lack of socialization really makes the workplace not positive.

Canadian's tend to be polite but not very friendly and Vancouver is very cliquey and can be difficult for outsiders to break into cliques.

Condo living is the same more or less, I say hello to everyone I encounter in the hall or elevator, very few say hello back.
After 50 years of working in an office in New York, I never found that co-workers got together after work and socialized. It was a rarity when that happened and usually that rarity was during a holiday. I made acquaintances at work and would share the lunchroom with them and we would chat about non-consequential things during that hour but that was the extent of it.

I was always fine with that as I had my own personal network of friends outside of the office that I went places with, had dinner with, went clubbing with, etc.

The only thing I can add is that never wait for someone to say "good morning" first. Make it a habit to say it when you first see someone in the morning. A smile and a word will make the other smile and greet you back.
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Old Jan 18th 2020, 9:53 pm
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Default Re: Office etiquette in Canada particularly Vancouver

Originally Posted by LondonM View Post
Thank you all for your responses, you all seem to be saying similar things. I guess I must try to accept the way/ people are here. But I miss the easy conversations and connections etc I had with people in London. I’m afraid I will be in this state permanently as Siouxie said in this cultural shock stage. I am raising my children here And we have a nice family but here does not feel like home. I just miss the long term relationships I left behind and everything else. I still feel like I’m new here a lot of the time. I still struggle to remember to say the right Canadian words and things (Floor levels and many other things... after 6 years! I think moving to a new county in your 30s is very hard, I just feel I don’t have flexibility to change/ adopt to this new culture etc. But my husband and kids are happy here so I have to be too.
siouxie, Thank you for offering a place for me to come back for a little moan. Sometimes that’s all that is needed to feel better. I try to express this feelings to my friends in london but they say “ just come back” like I can just come back!
This chimes with me. Once the children grew up and emigrated I was free of the reason for being here for so long. By then though new complications had arisen.
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