The Nice People's Guide to Business Politics
the ... after years of being a stay at homemom.
I knew that I was good at what I did, but when I ... back in business it seemed that nothing I did was ...
I felt I I re-entered the workforce after years of being a stay at homemom. I knew that I was good at what I did, but when I firststarted back in business it seemed that nothing I did was goodenough.
I felt I was lost at sea. It seemed that people weremad at me for no reason, or people didn't like the things I hadto say.
My work was good, but not fast enough, and on and on.Sometimes I would leave the office so stressed out that when Igot home I couldn't be cheery with my husband and kids.I was determined to get out of my rut so I started analyzing whatwas going on. I knew I did a good job, and that I was a pleasantenough person.
It had to be something else. I asked my husbandwhat he thought, and he brought up office politics.
He saidthat, in a lot of businesses, your social skills and behaviorhave as much or more influence as your actual job performance onhow you were treated. He told me to open my eyes and ears and tostart noticing what was going on around me and to try to adapt.The first thing I did was listen to the morning conversations inthe break room.
I was usually pretty chatty with the friendlierpeople, but I decided to keep it down for a few days. What werepeople talking about? It seemed that people were talking aboutbusiness issues and current events.
I guess I'd forgotten thateveryone didn't have kids, and that soccer and scouts weren'tpopular office topics.I made a commitment to myself to read the morning paper on thebus, instead of the latest romance novel, at least 3 days a week,and to make an input in the more serious office conversations.Of course I'd still talk about my kids with the ladies I'd becomefriendly with, but on our own time. The guys in the officereally started responding.
They even ask me my opinion on issuesnow.Next I decided to figure out why my boss, who was seemingly sofriendly, would sometimes complain about me behind my back. Ireally started listening to what she was asking for, and Irealized that she was a little vague sometimes, and thereforemaybe I wasn't always understanding what she wanted.I decided to start asking more questions to make sure I was up onthings.
One thing I figured out in this process was that whenshe said, "Could you try to get to this," she really meant, "Ineed this right now!" Well, I was worried at first that she'dthink I was bugging her, but after a few days of my new approach,she actually pulled me aside and thanked me, and told me my workwas really improving.I was also a little worried about asking for help so much aroundmy area. Computers were new to me and I wasn't really good atusing them.
I started asking the people near me to help me withthe different programs, and they were pretty willing to help, atfirst. I didn't catch on really quickly, and I started noticingsighs and glares when I would ask for help yet again.Well, the first thing I decided to do was to thank everyone fortheir help, so I made up goody baskets for everyone in my areaone Monday.
I came in a little early and left cookies andhomemade candy, along with a card saying "thanks for the help,"for everyone in my division. Everyone loved them, and the smilesreturned.Next I went down to the community college and registered for asix week office applications seminar.
I missed my kids for a fewnights, but it was sure worth it. Soon I was one of those peoplewho gets asked the questions, and my boss commended me on myinitiative.Well, my experience at that office went from bad to great, andwith only a little effort on my part.
I'm in business for myselfnow, but I find that everything I learned during that periodstill helps me with clients, and even with my family. Itdefinitely pays to pay attention.
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