How not to be a JERK at WORK!
Every morning as I begin my day at work, I think to myself “How can I be a JERK at WORK!” How can I talk over others? How can I talk about ME? How can I make sure that even if I have nothing to say, I AM GONNA SAY SOMETHING! Listen? hell no. You know, that the only person that matters is ME. I am selfish, I AM A JERK AT WORK. I really do not act that way and neither should you. Below are 5 things you should avoid doing. Have fun!
Number 1: Stop talking about your fancy degrees and accomplishments. I always think back to that Saturday Night Live skit where the character says “I drive a Dodge Stratus.” Other than you, no one cares that you have a masters degree from Big Shot University. I knew a guy that had a PhD from Stanford. He was so full of himself! He floated in on unicorn wings and you could hear fancy classical music in the background. Unfortunately, he never added value. When asked for advice or input he would send out a link to some intellectual paper that no one could read or understand. He spoke in platitudes. If you did not follow his gospel you were shunned. Congrats, your fancy college degree comes with a huge sum of debt.
Number 2: Stop dominating the conversation. If you are in a meeting with less than 8 people and are the only person talking then there is a problem. Meetings with 8 or fewer people are usually team meetings around a specific topic or project. Everyone should get a chance to provide input. I was once in an introduction meeting with a future manager. He did 95% of the talking. I left the meeting drained and frustrated because I couldn’t get a chance to add to the conversation. All I knew was that I didn’t want to work for this person. There are exceptions: when management wants to deliver a message to the entire team they will want to control the meeting. Usually they leave a few minutes at the end for Q&A.
Number 3: Just don’t talk because you think you have to talk. I know this person who always says the same things during a meeting because he generally has nothing to add. He will throw out some general fact that we all know. “When it’s not raining and its day time the sky is blue.” Wow, thanks Drew, that was amazing knowledge you just threw down. If you have nothing to add that is valuable just keep your damn mouth shut. If you must say something wait until the end and say: “Great meeting, I am all in!”
Number 4: Ask questions and listen. Listening is probably the number one skill you can have as a co-worker. The more your jaws are running the less you can hear and probably the less you are saying. Our relationships are critically impaired when we fail to listen to our spouses, significant others, our children, and our coworkers. If we are not listening we are not taking in new information. Our ignorance is destroyed when we listen to others. Our ears are probably the most vital tool we have in our road to success. So, listen to your boss, listen to your direct reports, listen to you spouse, and loved ones. Heck, all my dog does is listen, she is a genius.
Number 5: Be aware of where you are and who is with you. What you do when you are by yourself defines your character. What you do when you are around others defines what others think about you. Be aware of who is in your meetings. There are always people watching and listening. Understand that everyone can interpret your statements differently. If you stop and ask questions, you can find out what people are thinking. Even if they send a not so positive message, listen, and repeat back what they said. They will at least respect that you cared enough to listen and take them into consideration. Know that what you say is less important than what you learn from others.
As I ponder the days behind me and reflect on my good and not so great meetings; I am always considering what I could've done better. Listening is definitely one of those skills. It is easy for us to Monday morning quarterback our past. What this is about is respect for human kind. When we listen to each other we show that we have empathy, love, and consideration for each other. With respect and kindness we have the ability to succeed as a team and as cohabitants of our great worlds. I always tell my team that when you are kind you have more chances to influence and when you are cruel you only get one!