Survival Skills for the Workplace


Survival skills for the workplace are more necessary than ever, as hard economic times make that revolving door at many companies spin even faster than usual, spitting people out almost as fast as it takes them in. Being on your best behavior can be the difference between a window office with a view and your parents' couch—with you, viewing day-time television while you pretend to look for a new job and fill up on stale tortilla chips. So keep your eyes on the prize (your job) and increase your chances of staying employed by honing a the following skills: Attitude check and change; careful communication; making criticism constructive; taking credit gracefully; and time management.

  1. If you want to keep your job, check your attitude at the door.  No one appreciates a gloomy, whiny or otherwise obnoxious employee. When you find that your attitude or outlook is causing you problems with coworkers, clients or superiors, it's time for a swift change of course, before the new and improved (reduced) budget has you first on the list of potential cuts in payroll.
  2. Careful communication can save you from a lot of grief in all areas of life, but particularly at work. Don't make unnecessary comments. Don't be rude, don't be snarky, don't tell off-color or inappropriate jokes, and most of all, don't share your secret hatred of your direct superior at the watercooler. Being careful, clear and courteous in all of your communications with coworkers, superiors, employees, clients, and whoever, will help you avoid work-place drama that could leave you unemployed (no letter of reference included) before you can even swipe one of the good staplers.
  3. Make criticism constructive. Know how to give and take criticism constructively. That means making criticisms about things that coworkers or employees can actually change and improve and honestly considering criticisms about yourself and the room you have to improve.
  4. Take credit gracefully. That means no gloating. That means no taking credit for other people's hard-earned work or brilliant ideas (which may sound like a great thing at the time, but could even get you fired, or worse, sued). It also means that when a coworker, or a superior takes credit for your idea, you have to approach the credit-stealer in question in a dignified way, preferably in private, with a detailed list of your greivances and be willing to listen. Because who knows, perhaps this person collaborated in some way you've conveniently forgotten and does at least deserve partial credit?
  5. Manage your time.  Prioritize your work into important, very important and essential tasks, and further prioritize them by deadline in order to get the most important things done (at minimum) on time. If you can't manage your time, you can't manage or meet any goals, and you will not be successful in any job, meaning you will be first on the pink-slip to-do list.
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