18 Lessons From The Workplace

Image courtesy of Less Cake, More Frosting.

Image courtesy of Less Cake, More Frosting

Some hard lessons I continue to learn in the workplace that have made me a better coworker, employee, boss, leader and human being.

In no particular order:

1. Acting on assumptions will get you in trouble at least 50 percent of the time. That is a gamble you wouldn’t make if it involved money, your home, or people you loved. When you don’t know something, ask until you do, or decide to let it go.

2. Look for facts as well as opinions. Facts will help you know what decisions to make. Opinions will help you communicate them.

3. Age is not correlated to wisdom. Youth is not synonymous with fresh ideas. People of all ages are capable of insight and creativity. Just as people of all ages may all become beleaguered with small mindedness and bitterness.

4. Some people come across as thoughtful and prudent. Some of those same people come across as wishy-washy and timid.

5. Likewise: Some people comes across as bold and passionate. Some of those same people come across as aggressive and emotional.

6. Know your audience. Who is in the meeting? For whom is the product? What else is going on in these people’s lives right now that may affect how they respond to you or your product.

7. A great many of the things that happen to you, near you, around you, or in spite of you have little or nothing to do with you.

8. Speak up. Share ideas. Share concerns. Share excitement. Share information.

9. Spreading your knowledge and expertise does not mean you will “work yourself out of a job“. Same for building systems and supporting structures that save everyone time. There are few people more valuable than those who lift everyone around them.

10. Conflict does not have to lead to argument. It can, in fact, lead to great collaboration.

11. Accusing someone of being sexist, racist, homophobic or otherwise un-accepting of others will not transform them suddenly into acceptance of people’s differences. It may, very likely, prompt them to dismiss the very ideas you wish they’d embrace.

12. Telling someone you have felt hurt by something they’ve said, done, not said or not done will do you both more good than telling that person, “You hurt me.”

13. Honor and listen to people who tell you THEY have felt hurt by YOU. Apologize and mean it.

14. If you remain silent on something that is bothering you, expect to remain bothered.

15. No one wants to fail. Some need help figuring out how to succeed.

16. Define what success looks like before you decide you have or haven’t achieved it.

17. Play the long game. Someone who may have been a roadblock when your priorities clashed may become an ally when they converge.

18. The world is always changing faster than you are. 

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3 thoughts on “18 Lessons From The Workplace

  1. allow me to add two items I’ve learned in *mumble* number of years in the workplace:

    1. pick your battles wisely. there is no need to fall on the sword over every single thing.
    2. often, we teach people how to treat us.

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