The Best Work Advice I Have Ever Got
The wisdom that changed my job.
When was the last time you got some great piece of advice? They are rare. Yet, very important. There are many wise people around you with the right experience from whom you can learn. So, keep your mind open because a good word is invaluable and can´t be paid with any money in the world.
Here are the four best pieces of advice I have ever got in chronological order. I was lucky and you can be lucky now too.
1. Do not seek justice at work
This is a saying of my grandfather. He lived most of his life in Czechoslovakia when the communistic party was in charge. Possibilities to grow were limited to people in the ‘party’. Even the thinking about a career was narrowed to ‘you have to have a job’. Unimaginable, huh?
Yet, still, his powerful advice makes sense nowadays too. In the corporate world, not every talent is promoted, not every case is treated well, and not every decision is justified by common sense. So, we have to sometimes accept that there is no justice at work. Like George Orwell famously wrote in Animal Farm:
All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.
All in all, I believe that we have to be tolerant to work. Work is created by people and people have preferences. That’s why people leave managers and not their jobs. They prefer different levels of trust and treatment. Very important to realize what you can swallow and what you can’t.
2. Speak to them like you want them speaking to you
I attended training by a management trainer at my first serious job. She spoke about communication. It had a huge impact on me since working in an international company with many suppliers and branches is challenging and creates a lot of biases.
We are often not sensitive and understanding enough towards time to other people and their work agenda. We want everything asap. We put the exclamation marks. We are pushy. We chase our colleagues and clients. So much pressure all the time! When we are on the other side, we hate being stressed. We hate when people boss us around. So, really why do we do it to other people?
Being kind costs nothing. Same as being patient. So, having these trades seems to be more important nowadays than ever. A fast-paced environment sometimes pushes us to be rude to others. Don’t let yourself drown in unhealthy communication just because others do it. Pay respect. So, they pay it back to you.
3. Don´t comment on others
Banal isn’t it? Yet, we do often forget about this simple rule. The author of this advice is my mother. Gossips have no place at work. Point.
At my past work, we often had a lunch complaint corner to discuss what all went wrong with our colleagues How they did not do their work properly. At team meetings, we used to gossip about our clients — saying who was the worst one to work with. Looking back, I am thinking about how others spoke about us?
Realizing that was my big achievement in my management career. When I heard my boss saying ‘between us’, I knew that was a leash he used to gain trust but spoke like that with everyone. Let’s just agree not to be naive at work. All you say comes back like a boomerang behind your back. People love gossiping. So, be kind to others as you want them to be to you (and follow advice no. 2).
4. There is always a choice
The most recent piece of advice my manager gave me. There is always a choice at work. The way how he meant it is that you can openly say ‘no’, ‘yes’, or ask a question. The choice won’t make you look disloyal, or bad. It shows you have something in your head.
Career paths are versatile. Yet, these are often structured in tables. The role is executive, senior, associate, etc. This tends to make us climb the ladder without thinking about roles outside of the description. We feel we have no choice. We do always. New roles can be created, a new job can be acquired, more money can be milk from redundancy.
Don’t ever feel powerless and not in charge. You are always in charge and you can always say what you think. If you are afraid of losing your job, most likely the company is not good for staying there long anyway. All in all, the company needs you. Never forget about it. If you feel it does not, choose to find the one that appreciates you.
What you can start doing now is to value yourself at work and also appreciate your colleagues, clients, suppliers, and all your work contacts. There might not be justice in every working moment, but at the end of the day, we have a right to choose how we behave and what is bearable. Never forget about that.
And, one small thing — a smile does not cost anything either. Make people comfortable around you. You don’t need cheap gossips for that.