Monday, November 12, 2007

Taking Cheap Shots

Let’s be honest here: Sometimes when we don’t get our way at work, we can resort to the sort of cheap, immature shots best reserved for squabbling 5-year-olds in the pre-school sandbox.

Example 1: The “I’m way smarter than you” argument.
Remember when you used to argue with your friends about where babies came from? There was always the kid who had the real scoop on what went on between Mommy and Daddy to make Junior, and was willing to share that knowledge in vastly superior tones. The same often happens in the workplace with the “superior” knowledge one worker constantly seems to have. His or her smarts are not used to educate or help others in a positive way, but rather as an attempt to lord his or her knowledge over others. Using your intelligence to bully others or place yourself in an “authority” position on nearly every subject is obnoxious and unprofessional. Instead of others seeking you out for your knowledge, they’re likely to try and avoid you, and that can seriously hurt your career.

Example 2: The “People like her…” judgment.
If there’s one thing we should have learned in our lives is that it’s dangerous – not to mention stupid – to categorize people. Do you like being put into a category? Most people don’t. They consider themselves to be individuals, and usually don’t appreciate someone else forming opinions about them without the facts. So, the next time you think you can predict someone’s behavior, stop and take the time to ask the person questions and use the interaction as a chance for you to learn and grow. You can miss some key opportunities, and make some really big mistakes, by trying to pigeonhole people.

Example 3: The “I yell a lot” excuse.
If you were the kid who kicked sand all over your friends in the sandbox when you didn’t get your way, you may have come to realize that you have a temper. But to use that as an excuse to browbeat others at work, or explode in a tantrum when you are under stress, is extremely short-sighted. It can be very difficult to overcome a bad reputation at work, and someone who shows no willingness to control bad habits will find promotions, top projects and pay raises passing him by.

Bosses often put together diverse groups of people based on their strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you’re not the most organized, but your high-energy “I can tackle anything” perfectly complements the detail-oriented person. The key is remembering that you should always look to bring your strengths into play in order to help the bottom line, and work on improving your bad habits so that they don’t drag down your career or your company.


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