I have only been in this industry for 3 years, and I could probably write 50 blog entries detailing all the lessons I have learned. I don’t want to bore anyone, but I would like to share the 10 most important life lessons that other people have unintentionally taught me.
1. Nobody cares
If your dog died, or if you didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. They are paying for a service, and they expect to get their money’s worth. This goes for anyone you meet in life – people will only care until it matters to them. Consider yourself lucky if you find a handful of people who genuinely have your best interests at heart.
2. No, your co-worker does not have to be your best friend
In a work environment, everyones primary reason for being there is to work. So if your co-worker chooses to have after work drinks with the people in the next department and does not include you, it is no big deal! As long as you two can work well together, that is all that should matter. In general, if you can develop a friendship with someone, then that’s great! If not, don’t sweat it. There are millions of people out who would love to meet you.
3. Your boss knows best, no matter what
If your boss says you need to fix your hair, you need to fix your hair. Even if you think your idea is great, do not get carried away and force it on anyone above you. Your boss is running a business and they need to keep everyone in line in order to make their business work. Bosses don’t have the time to insult you, so take their criticism constructively. It can be difficult to draw the line between friends and friendly, but it is important to do so in all aspects of life and not just at work.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
The more questions you ask, the less likely you are to make mistakes. No matter how much experience you have, there is always something new to learn. People will respect you if you are willing to acknowledge that you don’t know everything. So ask away! Chances are someone is dying to feel important and lecture you.
5. For girls only! If there is another girl around your age who holds a higher position, she will not hesitate to be a bitch to you
We can be so supportive of each other, and we can viciously hate on each other. Having grown up in an all girls school, I learned the hard way that girls will always have some sort of an issue with another girl. The funny thing is, the issues are usually very superficial, and are caused by insecurity. If a girl is insecure enough, she will be a bitch to someone because she is jealous of their handbag. The moral of the story is: try to read deeper into why someone is behaving the way they are. It will give you a better understanding of how to deal with the situation at hand. And remember, work is work. You do not need to have causal conversation with the girl who is awful to you, but a polite hello is necessary to make your day less awkward.
6. People will stop at nothing to get what they want
Especially if they are paying for a service! They lose nothing by trying really hard, even though you have said no a million times. Eventually, they will back down as long as you stand your ground and you know what you are doing is right.
7. Don’t be upset if someone else gets preferential treatment
Picking favourites is a part of life. I do it, you do it, yet we don’t like it when we are not picked as a favourite. It is impossible to read someone else’s mind, and you don’t really want to ask your co-workers why they prefer the person who works the exact same job as you. In this case, try to learn something from this person. They might have qualities that your organization thinks is good for their business, or they might have a work method that is more efficient. You can only improve from being around people like this, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of it. You only have a problem when everyone starts disliking you all together.
8. Try to recognize how different cultures react to different situations
If you make a joke and the guy from another country takes it seriously, the only reason may not be that he is trying to be a jerk. When English is someone’s second language, they may be translating everything you say into their Native language. The joke that has you in hysterics might offend them, and visa versa. They will not think less of you if you ask why they seemed upset by what you said. In fact, they would probably appreciate the gesture and make an effort to get to know you better. Admitting to a mistake is actually stepping up, and not stepping down. So step up! You will find yourself surrounded by more quality people.
Fact: Apparently, the TV show “Friends” is not funny when translated into German
9. People will try to step on you to get ahead
It’s a fact of life, accept it and learn how to deal with it. This goes back to #2 on this list – nobody at work is obligated to be your friend. If they feel vulnerable enough, they will attempt to bring you down. If they are charismatic, they will even twist your words into a statement that makes you look bad, and makes them look good for being so concerned. Again, try to understand why they are like that, and you will get much further ahead. The TV dramas might say otherwise, but too much plotting and scheming can blow up in your face.
10. Do what you think is right
When worse comes to worse, and you can’t get a hold of someone else for an opinion, just do what you think is right. Explain to your boss the next day why you took that decision, and they will appreciate your honesty even if they disagree with you. A huge part of personal growth is being able to think on your feet in an emergency. You will get so much more out of your experiences if you learn how to. Independence is an attractive quality.