Author Topic: Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics  (Read 1906 times)

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JoieDeVivre

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Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics
« on: March 26, 2013, 10:12:55 PM »
I'm a young person who will soon graduate from school.

Due to family upbringing, I've lived a very sheltered life. I haven't done many things or had many experiences that most of my peers probably had (I'm quite sure of that).

Further, during school, I seldom listened to gossip, and I mostly just stuck to myself. (I think that listening to (but not partaking in) gossip can be beneficial because it lets you know how people think.)

I did get good grades, however, and developed several other talents.

I will soon leave my family's surroundings, enter the world, and get a job. I worry, however, about how my lack of people skills would affect me.

I consider myself a nice person, and I treat others with respect and honesty. Yet, I worry about being taken advantage of, not making the right impressions, committing social faux pas, or not being able to effectively assert myself.

I also heard that some office environments are like jungles wherein people backstab each other in order to advance.

What would you suggest that someone in my situation do or read? Do you know someone who has had the same issues that I had? If so, how did she/he overcome their issues?

Finally, how could you test your people and determine whether they're up to par?

delabela

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Re: Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2013, 10:24:51 PM »
Well, for the vast majority of my working life, I've been in various offices.  And yes, there are a lot of politics.  However, my experience has been that almost everyone just wants to do their job, do it well, and have it be as pleasant as possible. 

My best suggestion would be to learn by watching.  You can pick up on how others navigate the line between overly formal and too relaxed.  Pay attention to when others find it ok to joke around, and when they're serious.  Learn who's been around and knows the place, and go to them for advice. 

I have found that the most important things are that I do my job well and pitch in for the team when needed.  Listen to what people are saying, and state your expectations clearly. 

This sounds silly, but sometimes in the business environment, we forget 'please' and 'thank you' go a long way.  So remember that! 

LeveeWoman

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Re: Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2013, 10:39:31 PM »
I'm a young person who will soon graduate from school.

Due to family upbringing, I've lived a very sheltered life. I haven't done many things or had many experiences that most of my peers probably had (I'm quite sure of that).

Further, during school, I seldom listened to gossip, and I mostly just stuck to myself. (I think that listening to (but not partaking in) gossip can be beneficial because it lets you know how people think.)

I did get good grades, however, and developed several other talents.

I will soon leave my family's surroundings, enter the world, and get a job. I worry, however, about how my lack of people skills would affect me.

I consider myself a nice person, and I treat others with respect and honesty. Yet, I worry about being taken advantage of, not making the right impressions, committing social faux pas, or not being able to effectively assert myself.

I also heard that some office environments are like jungles wherein people backstab each other in order to advance.

What would you suggest that someone in my situation do or read? Do you know someone who has had the same issues that I had? If so, how did she/he overcome their issues?

Finally, how could you test your people and determine whether they're up to par?

This might sound strange, but I suggest you get a part-time job in the retail sector for a while. You will learn a lot about humanity, and about yourself.


kareng57

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Re: Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2013, 10:49:44 PM »
Do your best to not pay attention to office-gossip.  IME some of the most "friendly" office environments (i.e. "we're like a family!") are the biggest hotbeds of evil gossip and backstabbing.

Simply tell yourself that you're there to do your job, and go home at the end of the day.  It really is not your concern whether 63-year-old coworker Marge is only there because she's been there too long to be fired.....

WillyNilly

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Re: Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2013, 11:00:43 PM »
When you say you will soon be graduating, do you mean college?  If so I suggest you try to get an internship if you can swing it financially (many are paid, just not great pay). And internship is a nice cross of school - which you are used to already - but a good dip into the working world. If you met high school, don't worry everyone will expect you to be a bit green.

I also think starting in retail, customer service or food service is a good idea to start with. Maybe start with a light summer job.

But mostly, don't worry too much. And fake it till you make it. Work isn't so different from school really, in some ways its a heck of a lot easier. Just act confident, smile, and keep communication open between yourself and your boss or a trusted mentor. Everyone starts somewhere.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2013, 11:23:57 PM »
I think the really cut throat environments are limited to certain industries. After 25 years working in corporate America, I've only run across a handful of people who actively tried to sabotage others.  In most cases, we needed to get along with others to be successful in our individual roles.  I wouldn't worry to much about potential back stabbing unless your going into an industry known for it.

Gossip does occur in every environment, but it's pretty easy to distance your self from it, especially in larger companies.

My recommendation is when you start your job, be friendly and take a few months to learn the culture and getting to know your co-workers before jumping into strong friendships with anyone. After a few months you'll know who are the drama llama's, the gossip leaders, and who is there do get their job done in the most enjoyable environment.

Possum

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Re: Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2013, 11:48:38 PM »
Above all, think for yourself.  Sometimes you'll work in an office where everyone in your bullpen (collection of cubicles) will talk smack about someone in the next, and next thing you know, you're convinced they're a horrible person who kicks puppies, steals from purses, and created cancer.  But one day you're stuck together for a while in a stalled lift, she tells you she was actually kicking a rabid dog that was mauling a baby, grabbing an epi-pen for someone who was having a deadly allergic reaction, and the only "cancer" was a winning word in a Scrabble game that defeated one of those gossiping Gerties! 

There's two sides to every story.  Remember that.  Maybe the loud one is right, maybe the one only the subject of the gossip tells is. 

But no matter how many people tell you the same one side, there's always another.

Decide for yourself which one you believe.

And then stay out of the middle.

JoieDeVivre

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Re: Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2013, 07:03:22 AM »
@LeveeWoman

Why do you think that I'll learn a lot about human nature through the retail industry?

LeveeWoman

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Re: Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2013, 08:05:04 AM »
@LeveeWoman

Why do you think that I'll learn a lot about human nature through the retail industry?

Because you'll be dealing with different people all the time.

Coley

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Re: Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2013, 08:35:11 AM »
Be alert. I agree with the suggestion from a PP about observing your coworkers and supervisors. This will allow you to get the lay of the land in your work environment. You'll be able to take cues from those around you.

Ask questions when you need help. I genuinely believe that it is better to ask when you don't know than to pretend you know. Pretending can cause mistakes that could damage your employer as well as yourself. You can benefit from the wisdom of others.

Be an active listener. When someone else is talking, make sure your brain is engaged with what he or she is saying. Don't let your brain (or your desire to put in your 2 cents) get ahead of your ears.

Trust your instincts and intuition. Let your conscience be your guide, as they say.

I agree with the idea of working in retail or in another area that requires interaction with many types of people. Bank tellers, retail workers, food service, etc. all have a high level of customer interaction. I also like a PP's idea of an internship. Another option would be volunteering. There are so many organizations that need all sorts of volunteers. You could have the benefit of networking with professionals as well as interacting with clients of these agencies. I recommend volunteering to all of my students.

JoieDeVivre

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Re: Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2013, 09:04:25 AM »
Are there are any books that you'd suggest I'd read?


What do you think of the following books:

Secrets to Winning at Office Politics

48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

What Every Body is Saying (A book about body language)

The Etiquette Advantage in Business (Emily Post series)
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 09:11:34 AM by JoieDeVivre »

joraemi

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Re: Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2013, 09:12:50 AM »
Are you graduating from high school or college?




Courage is the price life  exacts for granting peace.  ~Amelia Earhart~

*inviteseller

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Re: Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2013, 09:32:06 AM »
Books are a good source of information, but you need real life experience.  I agree with a part time service area job...you will interact with people of all differing society levels, plus it gives you some basic work experience (which I assume you also have never had).  Also, I suggest volunteering for some community groups.  Just putting yourself out in the world and starting to grow into yourself in a relaxed atmosphere will help you ease into a corporate world which can be stressful for someone without the skills to comfortably interact.  I recently worked with a woman who had led a very sheltered life with her parents, then went into a marriage that was very sheltered...he took complete care of her.  She is very socially awkward and had a very hard time doing her job, which was dealing with the public and thinking on her feet with little supervision, because someone had always been there to tell her what to do at every moment.  It was sad and frustrating as her supervisor. 

Eden

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Re: Nervous About Entering Society/Dealing with Office Politics
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2013, 09:50:44 AM »
I think there's some good advice here and agree that most workplaces are not cutthroat and while you may encounter some types who are all about politics and game play, most people just want to do a good job and have a pleasant workday.

In addition, I'll add a couple things:

- Do not overthink things. I've found if you take things at face value and don't read into them it sets you up well. If someone meant something underhanded that face value doesn't convey, that's their problem and you ignoring that potential underhandedness effectively deflates their attempt anyway. And don't overthink your own reaction or approach either because that lack of self-confidence will come through to others.

- Be a problem solver. The people who have worked for me and gone moved quickly in their careers were not complainers and when they ran into obstacles, they figured out the solutions and, if they could implement the solutions themselves, did so. If they needed help to implement the solutions, they came to me with enough of the work already done that I just needed to help them connect with the right people. Those kinds of people are invaluable in business, in my opinion. People will forgive a lot of awkwardness and small social missteps for someone who make things easier for others and the business.

- Find a mentor. It doesn't have to be someone at your actual workplace, but that is nice if you can find one. Observe those around you and find someone whom you respect and approach them. They will be flattered, I promise. Ask them to provide advice on your professional development, things you can do to improve yourself, etc. They can be a valuable resource to help you navigate a difficult situation if one arises, too.