How To Be “Professional” at Work and Survive Office Politics?

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In the same way schools have rules for conduct, there is a certain decorum required of us in an office setting too. Many young professionals entering the working world are unsure of what exactly it means to be “professional”. Not to mention that the hidden world of office politics can be daunting to navigate, even for workplace veterans. Here are 3 rules to abide by and some “Do’s and Don’ts” to help you out.

This is a general guideline that should rightfully apply to most organisations. There might be exceptions depending on factors such as culture and management. So be sure to check back with your supervisors for tailored advice. 

Put on a Good Attitude

Be positive and respectful. By exuding a pleasant disposition, you are creating an atmosphere that is both inviting and uplifting. Having a positive attitude will rub off on your colleagues. It is easy to drown in stress and office drama, but in those times, it is crucial to keep negative moods at bay.

Positivity begets more positivity. This allows for good connections between colleagues and reduces competition where individuals in the office attempt to achieve success at the expense of each other. 

Be sensitive to everyone’s needs and concerns. Remember, not everyone thinks and works like you. Be open to constructive feedback without being defensive or negative. Good attitudes create a conducive environment for success in the workplace. Be kind and genuine to everyone.

Refrain from complaining about assignments, gossiping about coworkers, talking negatively about the boss, and disrespecting the work schedule just because you had one bad experience. This creates a hostile working environment and sours working relationships which are eventually showcased for everyone to see. 

Always display a respectful attitude towards co-workers, clients, and customers. Even if you disagree with another person’s point of view, always treat them politely and professionally. When conflicts with coworkers or customers arise, stay calm and try to help solve problems with an understanding, non-judgmental attitude.

With experience, you will recognise that a good attitude makes you more productive. Studies have shown that when you expect positive outcomes, you can turn a bad circumstance into a new opportunity. 

On a side note, be equally mindful of your mistakes when they are called out. It is possible to be positive while also looking at potential points for improvement. 

Practise Honesty & Integrity Daily

This is an underrated factor and people often assume it as an obvious given in any situation. Good character is invaluable. Employees with integrity are both reliable and dependable. They can be trusted to do the right thing even when nobody is watching them.

They demonstrate sound moral and ethical principles which are highly valuable in any credible organisation. One of the ways to uphold such character is to simply not be afraid to admit when you have made mistakes. No one is perfect and we are all a work in progress.

By acknowledging and apologising for slip ups, it indicates that you are someone who takes ownership and responsibility of their wrongdoings instead of trying to cover them up. All you have to do afterwards is work hard on not repeating these mistakes.

Being honest also does not mean that we have to say everything that comes to our mind. Practising sound judgement and discretion are equally important. Pick the right time and place to discuss things that might have a chance of coming across offensive and presumptuous. 

There are also other times when we have good intentions but may come across in the wrong way. One common example that best illustrates this is when we overpromise and undeliver. Always strive to be a man/woman of your word. Follow through on your commitments. If unsure, do not commit to anything that you are unable to complete.

Ultimately, having a strong moral compass creates a positive work culture that translates into diplomatic relations between employees. Furthermore, it promotes customer loyalty as clients find concrete reasons to trust you (over your competitors) with their needs. As we have heard countless times, honesty is truly the best policy.

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Team Work Makes the Dream Work

We have all probably heard the phrase, “teamwork makes the dream work”, and this rings true. There is power in unity and diversity. Diversity can come in the form of age, background, skillset and experience level.

A diverse team brings people together, creates an inclusive space for knowledge-transfer and allows colleagues to rely on each other as they work towards common success. Group cohesion also allows you to learn from the success and mistakes of your colleagues. It further provides individuals with learning opportunities and adds to your experiences.

Teamwork improves the communication lines between members. It facilitates an open discussion which allows each member to be adequately informed about a project. Moreover, when you are part of a team, you make decisions that benefit the group at large, even if it means that certain individuals need to make sacrifices for the greater good.

It is important to always be willing to help your colleagues. Displaying “it’s not my job” attitude is the surest way to kill the prospects of a strong team. A helpful person often attracts many partners who intentionally desire to join them on key projects and initiatives. Additionally, when you are helpful to your colleagues, it will also be natural to assist the needs of your clients which is the primary goal of every business. 

One of the key traits of a good team player is someone who is emotionally intelligent. Staying sensitive to the feelings and opinions of others is vital when you are in a team. Be respectful when listening to their ideas. Refrain from being quick to criticise, tear apart and negate the input from others.

Most importantly, when you encounter disagreements or conflicts with colleagues, take time to address it privately and without delay. Sweeping it under the carpet would only cause growing resentment and the toxicity may eventually become evident in your team. 

We leave you with a famous African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”