What to Do When You’re New Book Summary - What to Do When You’re New Book explained in key points
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What to Do When You’re New summary

Keith Rollag

How to be Comfortable, Confident, and Successful in New Situations

4.1 (45 ratings)
15 mins

Brief summary

'What to Do When You’re New' by Keith Rollag is a guide for making a successful transition into new environments. It offers practical advice to help individuals create new relationships, build networks, and overcome common challenges when starting something new.

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    What to Do When You’re New
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    Our biological and cultural evolution predisposes us to be alert and anxious in new situations.

    We all have to be the newbie at some point: we change jobs, change residence, sign up for new classes and so on. But no matter how often we’re the new person in the room, most of us feel anxious about it.

    And for good reason.

    Throughout our biological and cultural evolution, we came to naturally fear the unknown. In prehistoric times, we didn’t meet many new people. According to evolutionary biologist Robin Dunbar, it was normal, back then, to interact with only around 150 other people, and to encounter no more than 300 or 400 others in a lifetime.

    If we happened to meet strangers or enter unknown territory, it made more sense to be anxious and aggressive, as it was unclear whether one would be stolen from or even killed. There was no evolutionary incentive whatsoever to remain calm in new situations.

    According to experts on child development, we’ve retained this fear of strangers; infants, for instance, begin to show anxiety around unfamiliar people at six months of age. This feeling is then reinforced by parents and teachers, who constantly warn their children against talking to strangers.

    At the same time, however, we have a fear of being excluded from groups. For more social species, like humans, there are powerful incentives to be part of a group, as exclusion can be dangerous. For example, when male monkeys are kicked out of their birth group and into the world, half of them will either be killed or die of starvation before they are able to find a new group.

    These days, belonging to a group isn’t crucial to survival, but we still tend to long for inclusion. Modern culture fuels this by stating that only losers are incapable of finding a community.

    So, we feel anxious in new situations and yet still want to fit in. How to solve this paradox?

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    What is What to Do When You’re New about?

    What to Do When You’re New (2015) is the result of Rollag’s 20 years of research on why people become anxious and stressed in new situations. It provides strategies for changing your outlook on new situations and offers techniques for handling such situations with comfort and confidence.

    What to Do When You’re New Review

    What to Do When You’re New (2015) is a valuable resource for anyone navigating the challenges of starting afresh. Here's why this book is worth a read:

    • With practical tips and strategies, it helps newcomers gain confidence and overcome social anxiety when entering new situations.
    • By sharing real-life stories and experiences, it provides relatable insights and guidance, making it a helpful companion for those feeling lost or overwhelmed.
    • The book's emphasis on building connections and creating a support network offers a refreshing approach to tackling the newness, making it far from tedious.

    Best quote from What to Do When You’re New

    The nice thing about being new is you have the implicit right, permission and justification to introduce yourself to just about anyone.

    —Keith Rollag
    example alt text

    Who should read What to Do When You’re New?

    • Those who get anxious in unfamiliar situations
    • Employees new on the job
    • Students transferring to a new school

    About the Author

    Keith Rollag is an Associate Professor at Babson College. He specializes in organizational behavior and newcomer socialization and training. His work has appeared in a number of publications, including Harvard Management Update, Stanford Social Innovation Review and Wired News.

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    What to Do When You’re New FAQs 

    What is the main message of What to Do When You’re New?

    The main message of What to Do When You’re New is that embracing the discomfort of being new can lead to growth and success.

    How long does it take to read What to Do When You’re New?

    The reading time for What to Do When You’re New varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is What to Do When You’re New a good book? Is it worth reading?

    What to Do When You’re New is a valuable read for anyone navigating new experiences. It provides practical advice and insights to help you succeed.

    Who is the author of What to Do When You’re New?

    Keith Rollag is the author of What to Do When You’re New.

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