The Office Survival Guide

How do you keep your sanity, stay above the fray, and perform at a high level of expectations in the office? The workplace today is very diverse, with people of different ethnic backgrounds, educational levels and social upbringing.  If one is not aware of how to navigate the sometimes murky waters on the job, valuable time can be spent putting out fires instead of working and performing.  There are many situations in the office that can be distracting and should be avoided at all costs, two major ones to deal with are:

Gossiping In the Office

Gossiping in the office is a no no, there are disgruntled employees everywhere, who walks around the office and infect the workplace with venom.   Getting caught up in office gossip can not only ruin your career it can also damage your reputation and that of others.  If someone comes to you complaining about others, the first question to ask is if they have talked to the person about the situation.  If they have not, then advise them to.   Same approach should be when they complain to you about their bosses, ask if they have approached him or her.  If you do feel the need to give some advise, and possibly have a good grasp of the situation, find ways to give advise without bashing or contributing to any negative attitudes.  Remember that there are two sides to every workplace story, and you might not have the opportunity to hear the other.

If you are the person complaining, be careful who you complain to.  Remember, if you go to another manager you are not guaranteed any manager-employee confidentiality.   Managers sometimes have alliances, and your issue might be discussed even though you might not want it to be.  The rule of thumb should be if you can’t tell it to the person you have a grievance with, then you should not tell it to anyone else.

Unprofessional Behavior

There is never a good reason to curse or swear at anyone in the office.  Disagreements should be welcomed as often-times this is how great ideas are generated.  There can be no growth or innovation if there are no arguments and discussions around different ideas for problem solving.

Of course there will be others on the job who you might have like or get along with, and that’s ok.  We are not there to be buddies, but to get a job done.  If you find buddies in the workplace, then that’s a bonus, and a point to be appreciated.  Try and avoid the people you don’t get along with as much as possible, if you need work related information, you should be able to ask for this in a cordial manner, and hopefully the request will be received similarly.  There may be cases wherein you might need to talk to the human resources department if the relationship gets out of control.

Stress in the office is not a good reason to be unprofessional.  I have seen people yell and scream at others at work, then blame it on being stressed.  This is not a good reason.  Find ways to deal with the pressures on the job without taking it out on others, do thing such as taking a walk, listening to music or whatever it is you do that can relieve the stress of the job.   I usually tell people that after the milestone has been met, take a day off, so that you can refocus, regroup, and re-energize.

Other things that can lead to unprofessional behavior in the office are inappropriate around politics or religion.  These should be avoided as much as possible.  If you do engage, be aware of who you are talking with, the topic at hand, and where the discussion is taking place.  Even when you are having discussions with colleagues who you think are close to you and think the way you do, your words can come back to haunt you later if things go sour down the road.  If you don’t believe this, just ask any politician running for office. You know what is and is not appropriate, so use good judgement.

Emails and Voice Mails

Should you have some personal guide regarding office emails? You absolutely should!  My advice here is, if the topic is personnel related and sensitive in nature, don’t send email, talk to the person face to face.  Also, never send negative emails about another person, since emails like texts don’t go away, and can again come back to haunt you.  The same guide can be used for voice mail, never leave negative voice mails about someone in the office, if you need to have a discussion about something problematic, see the individual to be dealt with in person.  The electronic age is wreaking havoc on our ability to be discreet, and to trust that we are sending emails to just one person, the ability to blind copy, do email forwarding are just two of the ways our words can be blasted out to many more people that we intended.   Again, the rule is simple, if you can’t say it to the person’s face, then don’t send email.

Putting It All In Perspective

At the end of the day, your job should not be your life.  You should let your family, and life away from work be your focus.  So when things happen on the job or people get in your way, the thing to remember is that this is not your life, it should only be a small part of it.

I had a colleague once who used to say, “I work to live, not live to work.”  If you use this mantra, you will put yourself in a mental position where things at work will bother you at times, but not consume your person.  The office is a place to work and make money, keep it as professional as you can and try to get along with all regardless of race, religion or gender.

 

 

 

 

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