On discomfort and new groups

I recenyly wrote:

When you get involved in a new community, such as Debian, find out early where, if that happens, you can find support, understanding, and help to make it stop.

Last night I asked a group of friends what do they do if they start feeling uncomfortable when they are alone in a group of people they don't know. Here are the replies:

  • Wait outside the group until I figure the group out.
  • Find someone to talk for a while until you get comfortable.
  • If a person is making things uncomfortable for you, let them know, and leave if nobody cares.
  • Sit there in silence.
  • Work around unwelcome people by bearing them for a bit while trying to integrate with others.
  • Some people are easy to bribe into friendship, just bring cake.
  • While you don't know what is going on, you try to replicate what others are doing.
  • Spend time trying to get a feeling of what are the consequences of taking actions.
  • Purposefully disagree with people in a new environment to figure out if having a different opinion is accepted.
  • Once I was new and I was asked to be the person that invites everyone for lunch, that forced me to talk to everyone, and integrate.
  • When you are the first one to point something out, you'll probably soon find out you're not alone.
  • The reaction on the first time something is exposed, influences how often similar cases will be reported.

I think a lot of these point are good food for thought about barriers of entry, and about safety nets that a group has or might want to have.