How to Win at Work: 7 Cards You must Play to Excel in the Career Game

There is no joy that can be compared to that of a job seeker who finally starts a career by landing that dream job. It is a feeling of happiness, high expectations and pride. On the first day, you resume earlier than expected as you mentally prepare to do great work. You also look for work everywhere with unending eagerness until it finally hits you with full force. Suddenly, high hopes are shattered by the reality of most workplaces. Contrary to what you might think, the workplace is not so friendly. So how do you conduct yourself, have fun while you give it the best shot? Here are a few tricks that can make the difference:

Study Your Environment

Getting into a new place can be unnerving as it is unknown terrain but taking time to watch everyone after the first introduction can help you recognize the movers & shakers of your department/workplace. Study the different individuals to understand their behaviours as against the culture of the organization. This will not prevent you from doing your work, it will only help you to be a few steps ahead as you are able to tell who is the influencer, the pretender, the butt-licker, the hard-worker etc. Your ability to recognize the different types of people will help you structure your work in a way that helps you stand out without being at anyone’s mercy.

Choose Your Words

It has been established that the workplace is not a very friendly place. This is simply because your presence is a threat to a number of people. For every time you excel or shine, you make more enemies who will look for a way to turn the spotlight back to them or get information that can lead to your undoing. Therefore, you have to be very wise in the way you contribute to discussions or respond to questions. Some people are good at stirring up controversies e.g. they start some tricky topics and control the conversation in order to take information to the boss. For example, if someone is talking about the boss’ shortcomings and trying to get you to speak ill of him/her; or if a colleague is trying to get an idea of what you earn (which is confidential information), you must be smart enough to see through the pretense and give a vague answer that cannot be quoted anywhere. In the case where you are unable to give a blanket answer, you are allowed to smile and keep quiet. Not every question requires an answer.

Do Your Job Well

The major reason you got the job is because of the value you will add to the business, never lose sight of that. For every time you do your job, you must do good work that cannot be faulted and will not cost the company money. Hence, you must be innovative by thinking of endless ways to leave the business better than you met it. This means that you should have an entrepreneurial mindset. You must also be humble enough to learn new things and ask questions without feeling shy. You must know how to stand out while being a team player. Take on challenges by learning new parts of the business while positioning yourself as a key player in that field. The only way to stand out is to have a signature that showcases you as a lover of excellence.

Say No to Gossip

As formal as the workplace is, gossip is the only visitor that you cannot shut out of the gathering. The best thing you can do is to remove yourself from such a toxic setting. Before you panic, no one has asked you to resign. All you have to do is block out the voice of the big-mouthed employee who always sees the bad things. The rule here is clear, whoever comes to gossip about someone to you will go elsewhere to gossip about you. Now imagine if you have joined the obnoxious person to malign another employee and the person moves on to the next person, he/she will definitely twist your words and make you the enemy. So next time anyone comes to you with gist about someone, get busy and smile without adding or subtracting from what the person is saying or simply ask him/her to speak with the person in question.

Control Your Temper

There is nothing as valuable as Emotional Intelligence. This is a weapon in career building that is often underestimated. Now if you are someone who likes to argue, win a battle or lash out at people with toxic words, you cannot earn respect for your work or even get the baton of leadership in a work setting. The thrust of leadership is the ability to make people do their work well while helping them feel valuable as people. “But I am very blunt person”…please don’t give excuses for rudeness. Wisdom is profitable to direct, there is always a better way to give feedback without insulting people or cursing. Respect everybody and treat each person well. You never know when you will need the help of the next person so keep the bad words in your head. Also the ability to deflect nasty talks will make you a winner any day. If the next person is not wise enough to display emotional intelligence, don’t roll in the mud with them. Stay quiet and smile as the potty mouthed person disgraces himself openly. If you feel like you are a target, you can report the person to the necessary people so that he/she can be cautioned.

Keep Personal Things Personal

The office environment is not the place to give certain excuses or tell some stories. You don’t want to give anyone ammunition to use against you due to workplace dynamics. Therefore, you must try to do your work properly so that you don’t have to lie or say unsavory things. If you are taking time off for health reasons, it is not right to tell your boss that you are treating an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease)…you know how that sounds, right? If you are taking some days off, the workplace is only meant to know that you are going on leave…not that you are going for society parties. You might not see anything wrong in disclosing this but you never know if the HR or your boss will change their opinion about you just because of one innocent thing you said. In addition, not everyone has a good heart so what you say can become a topic of discussion or have people look down on you while spreading false rumors about you.

Have No Expectations

It is easy to feel betrayed when someone you have trusted with private information or see as an ally plots against you. The reality of life is different, treat everyone well but do not expect too much from them. Never complain to your colleagues, just take issues in your stride to avoid hearing a different version of the story from the Ogas at the top. Snitches do not carry a sign on their foreheads. Be accessible to everyone on the job, offer help where you can but be cautious when relating with them.

Note: it is possible to make friends and find destiny helpers in a workplace but you need to give it time. You must relate with everyone without allowing them know everything about you. Self-preservation is very important. It is often said that when two friends fight, secrets come to light. Now read that again and replace “friends” with “colleagues” (I am sure you get the picture). Give your best at work and be helpful. Be professional yet courteous. Be interested in the welfare of people but do not cross the privacy line so that you do not get into trouble. If you find true friends eventually, you are blessed. Re-invent yourself every time in preparation for the next opportunity and watch fortune favour you as you climb up the career ladder.

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