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4 College Digital Habits to Ditch in the Workplace

4 College Digital Habits to Ditch in the Workplace

You’ve graduated and landed the job of your dreams! Your first job after college is an important one: it starts building your career credibility, network, base salary, and experience. But with so many experienced colleagues, how can a fresh graduate show their authority and make sure that they are taken seriously? Digital habits matter – what made sense in college may no longer be the best way to operate at work. Here are a few habits to ditch (quickly) when you enter the workplace:

1. Pinging your co-workers after working hours or when their status is set to “do not disturb” or “unavailable”.

Intra-office chat programs are all the rage at work these days – they’re a great way to reach out to your colleagues who are online but in another geographical area or office location in real-time. But initiating a chat session with your boss or teammates after hours for anything that is not urgent is a no-no. If people in your time zone are online before or after work it’s probably because they have work they need to get done, and if their status is set to “do not disturb” they may be presenting at a meeting or trying to finish up something that takes concentration. They’re not looking to chat or engage with you, and instant messaging them during these times when there isn’t an emergency can make you look juvenile and inexperienced. Just don’t do it – try another less intrusive mode of communication like email if you need to reach out right then.

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2. Sending long and / or emotional emails.

One way to increase your authority immediately? Write short emails. In fact, if you can’t make your point in fewer than three to four sentences, consider replying with: “Let’s discuss.” Study the way your boss responds to email and copy it. Don’t feel you need to over explain your decision-making processes. In fact, a concrete “No”, or “I’ll pass”, or a simple “I agree” is enough to show you’re engaged and sure of your decisions. If someone wants to know why, they’ll ask you. Worried or concerned about something that happened in the office? Don’t send an emotional email to your manager. It’s hard to control tone and perception in email, and the last thing you want is for your boss to read an email and think that you are a stress case (or worse, a nut case). In those situations, wait for your next one-on-one meeting and have a discussion with your manager where you can provide context and reflection when you bring up your concerns.

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3. Sharing everything on social media.

Had the best date of your life? Called in sick last Friday to start the weekend early? Drank a little too much at the bar with your girlfriends last night? These sorts of things may have been fun to share on Facebook and Twitter when you were in college, but now that you are employed you may want to think twice. Do you really want your boss to know every last detail of your life outside of work? While we’d all like to think that the assessment of our professional performance and worthiness for advancement is completely based on merit the truth is perception is reality, and what happens on the weekends may end up influencing your image at work if you share every last detail on social media.

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4.Text Speak, Stickers and Emoticons in office communications.

You may be able to get away with the occasional smiley face or “HEHE” but if your presentations and emails are filled with text speak terms like “coz”, “l8r” or “dat”, the ‘higher ups’ are going to question your maturity level. The same goes for stickers or emoticons. A thumbs up or smiley face may make sense as an affirmation after a quick instant message exchange, but stickers littered throughout all your communication can be a huge red flag and mark you as a workplace newbie. Communicating succinctly, eloquently and professionally with words is one way to showcase your potential without highlighting your lack of experience.

Work is different than college; don’t expect the digital communication norms to be the same. Even if you lack experience, you can still build an image of yourself as a competent and confident employee worthy of recognition. Drop these four habits quickly and you’ll be well on your way!

Featured photo credit: Office Hours / Tanel Teemusk via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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