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You Should Never Say These 7 Things If You Want To Be Successful At Work

You Should Never Say These 7 Things If You Want To Be Successful At Work

Effective communication is a key instrument to leading a successful career. Communicating well has two parts: how you say it and what you say. In today’s article, you will discover some of the mistakes that can hurt your career advancement prospects. Do you see yourself in some of these comments? There’s no need to worry. We have all made mistakes and usually manage to work another day. The very fact that you’re reading this article means you are dedicated to improving and becoming more effective. That’s a fantastic trait! Here are 7 things you should never say at work if you want to be successful:

1. “That’s Not My Job”

Job descriptions are written for a purpose. However, they are not weapons to be used against your manager! Saying this phrase or a variation of it suggests you are not interested in growing your skills and that you are not interested in going the extra mile to help the organization. When you say “that’s not in my job description,” you suggest that you are rigid and unwilling to adapt to the changing needs of the organization. Solution: Look for ways to accept new responsibilities. If you feel completely overwhelmed at work, learn how to say no professionally. For the best results, suggest an alternative when you say no (e.g. “No, I cannot create that report for you. However, Jane is outstanding at creating reports and I know that she is interested in learning more about financial reporting.”)

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2. “I Work Every Weekend”

Professional success takes time. That’s one of the truths that Malcolm Gladwell explained in his best selling book Outliers. However, working longer hours yields less results after a certain point. After a certain point in the day, your ability to make good decisions and use your abilities declines. Solution: Setting limits on your working hours forces you to become productive and set priorities on your work. As author Laura Vanderkam explains in her book What the Most Successful People Do On the Weekend, successful professionals use the weekend for gaining perspective on their work, getting much needed rest and preparing for the week ahead. If you ever felt like you needed permission to relax on the weekend, you have it!

3. “I Can’t” (Frequently)

What happens when you tell yourself “I can’t?” You prevent yourself from trying and looking for solutions. You start doubting your abilities. Even worse, saying this phrase over and over again, you will become discouraged. When unsuccessful people say, “I can’t improve my Excel skills,” they present themselves from attempting to learn. Solution: Instead of saying “I can’t” ask yourself: “How would I do this?” What if somebody offered me $10 million to find a way to do this? Would you learn a new skill? Would you call someone to ask for advice? Would you try one hundred ways and look for ways to improve each time? If you’re afraid of criticism from your boss, you can say, “I have never done that before and I will start now.” That’s how a humble attitude improves your work effectiveness.

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4. “I Never Read Books”

Each year, we come across new statistics that show fewer people are reading. According to the Pew Research Center, 24% of Americans read no books in 2013 (the typical American adult reads just five books). In a world of increasing complexity and knowledge, unsuccessful people suffer two problems when they talk about their lack of reading. First, they are actually falling behind everyone else – especially those who read in their fields. Second, they are suggesting they have no need for further knowledge about the world. Solution: Develop a reading habit and program to improve your knowledge. To get started, pick up one book this week and set a goal to read for at least 15 minutes per day. If you are working on getting ahead in your career, look for books that relate to your career goals (e.g. improve your productivity and organization with Getting Things Done by David Allen). To relax at night before you go to sleep, read a novel for fifteen to sixty minutes to relax – reading is an excellent addition to a successful bedtime routine. Restart Your Reading Habit With These Book Suggestions:

5. “Let’s Wait Until Our Competitors Do That”

The reactive habit of unsuccessful people is a recurring problem that comes up again and again. Adopting the “wait and see” approach has merit in some cases. Excessive reliance on this concept means being dependent on others to come up with new ideas and products. When we think about the most admired people and companies in business – Apple, Google and others – they set themselves apart by leading their industries and bringing new products to the market. Solution: You look for new ideas and ways to become more innovative at your organization. There are several ways you can develop an innovative mindset. Explore the following resources to improve your capacity for innovation.

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6. “I Don’t Need Your Input”

Saying this to a manager or coworker is a career limiting move for two reasons. First, this statement harms relationships. When people say they have no need of input, unsuccessful people signal they do not value other people. Second, this statement suggests a complete knowledge of the world – an unfortunate type of arrogance.

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard, leadership and management author

Solution: Instead, you can always find a way to seek and use input at work. You can obtain feedback in two ways to improve your results. You can directly ask people for their insight, ideas and opinions. You can also employ observation, reflection and active listening.

7. “Let’s Get Together Sometime”

They say “sometime” over and over again when it comes to their goals. They say “sometime” when their boss asks them to get work done. Over and over again, they take a vague approach to the opportunities they encounter at work. Their professional network becomes weaker each day because they keep saying “I’ll have lunch with that old client sometime” or “I’ll send that email to my college friend sometime.” Solution: Make specific plans to get work done. Plan the next step in your work. Constantly practice the two minute rule for your work on your agenda – if the action will take less than two minutes to complete, then simply get it done now.

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Featured photo credit: The Despair/Pabak Sarkar via flickr.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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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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