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They don't have to be friends, but it does help to know people's specific interaction styles. Are they quick to voice an opinion, or hesitant? Do they play the "strong opinions loosely held" game? Which people will speak up in the group, which would prefer one on one, which will avoid one on one because of culture-specific gender or hierarchy rules? Which people are generally "progressive" early-adopter new-shiny types, which are "conservative" use-proven-technology types? Who welcomes new people? Who enjoys a bit of teasing banter, and who seems bemused genuinely hurt by it? A little light social interaction can answer all of these questions, and those answers can be very useful when interacting with them later in more structured and directly work-centered contexts.

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