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10 Workplace Lessons I Wish I’d Learned When I Was Just Starting Work

10 Workplace Lessons I Wish I’d Learned When I Was Just Starting Work

When you are starting working life, you have to be very careful to avoid making mistakes that could damage your career. Some experts say that the first three months are crucial because that is enough time to make or break you.

Here are the top ten new-to-the-workplace mistakes to avoid like the plague so you can get off to a great start. I know, I learned the hard way.

1. You think you know it all

Of course, you were the best candidate, but that does not mean that you are going to get the employee of the year award. Even if you know quite a few of the things that co-workers or managers are telling you, resist the urge to say ‘I know’ with impatience or rolling your eyes or other revealing body language.

2. You ignore the company culture and dress code

Look around you and see how people are dressed and conform to the pattern. You might look out for whether employees are showing off their latest tattoos or piercing, for example. Cover up if they are not!

3. You do not want to socialize

This is a huge mistake because one of the most effective ways of getting noticed in a new job is to use all the networking skills you have got. These are a great investment. That means chatting at the water cooler, accepting happy hours after work or simply inviting a colleague for coffee. Remembering people’s names and their roles is a great way to start. Also, look out for the people who are more influential in your section. Nobody is going to back a loner.

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4. You get involved in office politics

If you get involved immediately and are seen in certain cliques, this is not going to do you any good at all. Staying out of the gossip and political circles is a vital strategy in the first few months. Cultivate the art of sympathetic listening, without getting involved or committed. You can always rightly claim that you are still getting to know who’s who.

5. You are unaware of your body language

Time to educate yourself on the messages that you are sending. For example, when you stand with your arms folded as you listen to a co-worker explaining a new procedure, you are sending a closure signal. Maintaining eye contact is also important and avoid slouching when someone approaches you to tell you something.

The right body language goes hand in hand with what you are saying. It also helps in bonding, which is so important when you are starting out. Being aware of your voice pitch and its volume can also be a great help.

“We’re losing social skills, the human interaction skills, how to read a person’s mood, to read their body language, how to be patient until the moment is right to make or press a point. Too much exclusive use of electronic information dehumanises what is a very, very important part of community and living together.” – Vincent Nichols

6. You are unaware of the importance of emotional intelligence

If you think emotional intelligence (EQ) is just a new fad, think again! I never thought it was something to bother about because I am fairly empathic anyway. Observing colleagues was an eye opener and I could quickly see that those with high EQ were getting promotions faster.

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I remember a fellow worker who always said ‘yes.’ He went on to become a senior manager in no time at all, and yet he was not very well qualified. It was his emotional intelligence that really helped him to rocket to the top.

Basically, controlling your emotions and being acutely aware of their effect on your colleagues is key. Learning how to gauge and empathize with colleagues, clients, managers and stakeholders is extremely important.

No surprise to learn that psychologists estimate that IQ can account for a maximum of 25% in career success. The rest of the whopping 75% is mostly occupied by social skills and emotional intelligence.

“What matters is hard work, and emotional intelligence.” – Millard Drexler

7. You do not ask for feedback

If you think that your boss is going to notice what you are doing straightaway, don’t be so sure! He or she might not. Keep them in the loop by asking for a quick meeting so that you are both on the same page.

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It is a great chance to spell out what you are doing, what you have learned and any obstacles you are encountering. Telling your boss that you are able to stick to the deadline is also going to make a great impression.

“An employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager.” – Bob Nelson

8. You think that taking notes is not trendy

If you have an impeccable memory, this is fine. If not, then join 95% of the working population. In a new job, if you do not take notes, you may well find that you have to ask colleagues to explain, clarify and remind you again. This is a great way to watch your popularity sink.

9. You forget to check what the media policy is

If you assume that it is legit to update your Facebook status at a slack time, you might be in for a shock. The same goes for texting, using laptops and iPhones in meetings and in the workplace generally. Just check out what people are doing, and then act accordingly once you realize how strict or lenient they are on media.

10. You are not a good listener

Being an active listener and not switching off is a great asset. Learning the art of listening is another investment that will stand you in good stead.

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Spending as much time in preparing to listen as you do when you speak is a great rule to follow. Showing that you are listening by using the right body language and offering feedback are other great skills you can acquire.

Once you are aware of these mistakes and how to avoid them, you will become successful in the corporate world. It’s not rocket science!

Featured photo credit: Amazon.com Welcome New Hires/ Will Merydith via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 27, 2021

How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

Knowledge is essential to become successful in life, your career, and your business. Without learning new concepts and becoming proficient in your craft, it’s difficult to excel in your chosen career or archive knowledge to pass down to the next generation. Visual learning is one way to do this, and it can be incredibly effective in helping you work better.

Content comes in various forms, and because how we learn influences how much we know, we need to talk about learning styles. This article will focus on how to utilize visual learning to boost your career or business.

The Importance of Knowing Your Learning Style

Knowing your learning style enables you to process new information to the best of your ability. Not only does it reduce your learning curve, but you’re able to communicate these same concepts to others effectively.

It all starts when you’re able to first identify the best way you learn.

As a college student, I soon figured out that taking online courses without visual aids or having an instructor in front of me led to poor retention of concepts. Sure, I got good grades and performed excellently in my online exams. However, I discovered that I couldn’t maintain this performance level because I forgot 80 percent of the course content by the end of the semester.

There are several types of learning styles, which exist as part of the VARK model. To give an idea of how visual learning stacks up against other learning styles, here’s a brief mention of some of the different types of learning styles we have.

The four most popular types of learning styles are:

  • Visual learning style (learning by seeing)
  • Aural or auditory learning style (learning by listening to information spoken or presented)
  • Read/Write learning style (learning that involves reading and writing texts)
  • Tactile/Kinesthetic learning style (learning by touching and doing)

For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on using visual learning.

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Are You a Visual Learner?

When it comes to boosting your career, business (or education), a visual learner is one who would most definitely choose shapes, images, symbols, or reading over auditory messages.

This may mean you prefer to read an actual map when navigating to a new place over listening to verbal directions. It may also mean that you have trouble remembering what your manager said at the meeting because there were no graphs or illustrations to support the points raised.

Visual Learner Infographic

    Most people who struggle with learning probably aren’t leveraging their best learning styles[1]. The earlier you identify how your learning style can boost your success, the less struggle you will encounter with processing new information throughout your career.

    However, visual learning in particular can really boost your career or business whether it is your preferred learning style or not, and here’s why:

    Several studies have arrived at the conclusion that the brain retains more information with the help of visual aids. In other words, images are directly processed by our long-term memory, which helps us store information for longer periods of time.[2]

    While some lessons can be performed orally, several concepts can only make sense if you have an image with an explanation of sequences (i.e. learning about human DNA).

    Visual learning does use a different part of the brain, and visual cues are processed by the part of the brain known as the occipital lobe.

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    By engaging more parts of the brain during learning, you’re able to have a fuller understanding of concepts and facilitate better interaction with your immediate environment.

    How to Use Visual Learning for Success

    Here are 4 ways to use visual learning to boost your career or business:

    1. Bring Back the To-Do List

    We live in an age where computers have taken over virtually every aspect of productivity and most human functions. However, written lists are making a comeback, and with an endless number of important tasks to complete, having a to-do list of tasks in order of importance can improve your productivity.

    While coming up with a list is initially challenging, adding colors and shapes to written lists that you personally write and manage gives you an extra layer of assurance and aids recall so that you actually get stuff done.

    I have tried this technique in my work as a registered nurse and discovered that adding shapes and colors to to-do lists helps me delegate tasks, recognize where more work is needed, and makes it easy to cross off completed tasks at the end of the day.

    2. Add Graphs, Charts, and Symbols to Reports

    Yes, it seems like more work for you, but graphs enable you to monitor the heartbeat of your business.

    Graphs and charts help you find trends in your finances, make a budget, and analyze data overtime. With the help of free and premium software available on the market, it has become easier to take plain data and convert it to relevant information displayed in different shapes and images in a matter of minutes.

    As an entrepreneur, you can make predictions and allocate funds wisely when you’re able to see whether your efforts are rewarded. You can use colors and charts to delegate actions to members of your team and track performance at the same time.

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    When broken down into monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, or annual goals, graphs and charts communicate what ordinary text cannot.

    3. Effectively Brainstorm With Mind-Mapping

    With mind-mapping, you’re organizing information accurately and drawing relationships between concepts and pieces from a whole, which is a great way to tap into visual learning.

    Think of a mind map as a tree with several branches. For example, the tree can symbolize healthcare, while each branch stands for nursing, medicine, laboratory science, and so on. When you look at nursing, you can further branch out into types of nursing; pediatric, women’s health, critical care, and so on.

    It’s an interesting relationship; the more ideas you’re able to come up with for your chosen subject, the deeper you get and the stronger the association.

    Mind maps really show you relationships between subjects and topics, and simplifies processes that might seem complicated at first glance. In a way, it is like a graphical representation of facts presented in a simple, visual format.

    Mind mapping isn’t only limited to career professionals; business owners can benefit from mind mapping by organizing their online learning activities and breaking down complex tasks into simple actions so that you can accurately measure productivity.

    4. Add Video Streaming to Meetings

    What if you could double the productivity of your team members by video streaming your meetings or adding flash animation to your presentation?

    When you offer video as an alternative method of processing information to colleagues, there is a greater chance of retaining information because we recreate these stories as images in our minds.

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    For organizations that hold virtual meetings, it can also be an effective way to enhance performance as people can see their colleagues in addition to whatever form of video is provided during the meeting.

    Final Thoughts

    The question is not whether visual learning is better than the other learning styles. Each has their merits and situations where they will be most useful.

    The goal here is to supplement your existing dominant learning style with visual learning so that you can experience a significant boost in how you process and use everyday information.

    You might discover that understanding scientific concepts is much easier after incorporating visual learning or that you’re able to understand your organization’s value when projected on a visual screen with charts and graphs.

    The overall goal is to always be learning and to continue to leverage visual learning style in your career and business.

    More About Learning Styles

    Featured photo credit: You X Ventures via unsplash.com

    Reference

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