“How did this happen?” you might ask yourself one day. Your job has become a drama nightmare with hurt feelings, drama, and rumors affecting your professional life at every turn. Sometimes it’s a matter of being a part-timer in a sea of full-timers who live their jobs. Other times you’ve just rubbed someone the wrong way who can’t separate their work lives from who they are as a person. So here are some ways to maintain your professionalism and keep your job from being an uncomfortable place.
1. Remember that your job is not your life.
It’s your job. Your career is very important to you, I’m sure, but nothing that happens there should affect who you are as a person. It should just reflect your work performance. People who say things about you don’t know you. So why should you care what they think?
What do people have against being wrong? Take one for the team. The problem is everybody is so afraid that someone else is going to jump all over them if they show weakness. Simply apologize, even if you’re not sorry. “I’m sorry, man, that must have been my mistake.” has never made any enemies. Don’t explain yourself either. Just say you’re sorry, that it won’t happen again, and then make that the truth.
3. Keep your mouth shut.
Don’t share what other people tell you, even if they didn’t call it a secret. Make it a given that whatever is said to you stays with you. Even small things. If someone asks “why didn’t you just tell so and so this or that?” say that you didn’t think it was the professional thing to do without permission. It will gain a massive amount of respect.
4. Do you.
Do your job. Don’t worry about other people not doing their job. Do YOUR job. If their job impacts you, do what it takes to make up for the slack, then make sure your job is on point. Anybody slipping is going to get caught eventually. Don’t mediate an argument you’re not in, don’t corroborate a story someone gives, just do you.
5. Keep your personal opinions to yourself.
Nobody cares what you think about that coworker having a baby so young. Definitely don’t comment on policy. If you want to talk about it at home, have at it, but at work you definitely don’t want to be associated with the complainers. People who would have you join their complaint often have some kind of seniority to back them up that YOU don’t have. Better to be mysterious. Especially if you’re working a part-time job and/or paying your dues, just be comforted that this isn’t the endgame for you, and that you’re passing through.
6. Remember names, and in the second person use them often.
Refrain from ever talking about people in the third person, lest you become a rumor-monger. However, when talking directly to that person try to name-drop as much as possible. People like hearing their own name from people talking to them.
7. Look busy.
My dad taught me this one. He used to be ahead of schedule in everything he did. At work, he finished his project early. This meant that he was one of the only people not on-project when it was time for layoffs. Which meant he was laid off for being off-project. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best; if you look like you aren’t needed, then you probably aren’t, they figure.