Saturday, 4 January 2014

Winning At Work!

We spend eight to nine hours a day, five to six days a week there, so it’s safe to say we invest our lives in it. And for this very reason, whether we’ve got it good or bad, we can be sure the rest of our lives will be affected.The workplace can be a pain or pleasure, and more often than not it’s a heady combination of both. With its fascinating blend of different personality types, ethnicities, genders we’re either privileged or forced to work with (depending on your experience), it’s inevitable that tensions will arise and tempers flare from time to time. Not all of it is unavoidable though and if we give a little thought to it and prepare our minds ahead of each day, we could probably forestall some unnecessary situations. It’s a wonderful thing when team spirit and unity prevail and since it takes ‘two to tango’ you might as well be that change agent your office is looking for. We’ll focus a little more on the corporate world since it’s more regulated and others are not as stringent in their requirements..
So, to better navigate the workplace, give the following some thought..


An understanding of the culture of the organisation you find yourself in is important and will help you blend in better. The rules vary of course from the more formal corporate world to the more liberal creative one, etc. Culture influences anything and everything from dress codes to office etiquette to your interaction with clients.

Less is generally more as the focus should be on your ability and performance, more than anything else. Having said that, a positive image and a great performance go hand in hand. Corporate offices lean more towards the dark colours although you can bring in some colour through your accessories. Avoid satin, velvet, taffeta and a lot of lace; They are more suitable for evening wear. Staggeringly high platforms that impede your movement, noisy jangling jewellery, super low cut tops or micro-minis may be distracting to your coworkers and should be eschewed in favor of more work appropriate dressing. Like I said earlier, the attention should primarily be on your competence and professionalism. For both men and women, grooming is crucial as any sloppiness (bushy beard, unkempt weave, body odour etc) is unlikely to inspire confidence in clientele. Make up and accessories should enhance, not distract and fragrance should be subtly applied, not overwhelming.
Some people are actually sensitive to scents and it would be unfair to force them outside in search of air, simply because we like our own perfume a little too much! The more creative professions are easier to dress for and here, dreadlocks, Afros, jeans, and so on are merely considered forms of creative expression..

Since volumes of books have been written on this topic, I’ll restrict myself to tips directly relevant to encouraging mutual respect and tolerance, for a more cordial environment.
Nothing generally annoys people more than feeling they’re being disrespected or taken for granted or perhaps their feelings are not being taken into consideration. So, starting from the salutations – the cheery ‘good morning’ when you arrive to the ‘goodbye’ when you’re leaving – it all counts. Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ whenever required, not telling jokes that may be offensive to a particular gender, tribe or religion, respecting both subordinates and superiors will put you in good stead. Office etiquette prioritizes rank above gender. When using office equipment, try not to monopolize any particular appliance as the rule is ‘share, share, share and do so harmoniously’ in any office environment. So if you’re photocopying 200 pages of a document for instance and someone quickly needs to copy 10, do let them go ahead and do so and then you can resume your lengthy photocopying. Replacing printer ink or paper and so on, are all little touches that demonstrate consideration for colleagues. Don’t forget to join in if there’s any sort of celebration even if it’s just for a few minutes or to contribute in anyway you comfortably can when there’s a collection going on.

You’ve heard it said over and over that you shouldn’t put anything on Social Media that you would not like to see published on a billboard or to hear broadcast publicly, because it’s the same thing. There’s an intimacy that Social Media generates, because you’re posting or tweeting alone, perhaps from the comfort of your living room or bedroom and at a time of your convenience that somehow causes you to forget that you’re leaving indelible digital footprints in cyberspace! That rant, thoughtless comment or joke is going to be there for as long as the Internet exists, being tweeted and retweeted or whatever else. Think twice before you decide to post that little joke, complaint or comment about your boss or work colleagues (or even ex-boss or ex-colleagues) online.

The “golden rule” of gossip is that if you talk about others, sooner than later it will be your turn to be talked about! The office is a small place (no matter how big its physical size) and stories will circulate very rapidly. Resist the urge to tattle about those you work with, no matter what personal or professional differences, hostilities or what have you, may exist between you!

If you can, don’t. But if you must, keep it very discreet. Fondness easily develops when people of like minds spend a lot of time together, so it’s not unusual for this to happen but you must be fully aware of all the implications and be wise in the way you handle it so that your career and your reputation don’t become casualties. Don’t let everyone know your business if you can help it so that if the relationship happens to fail there’ll be less awkwardness to deal with. Office romances can end happily and there are several examples to back that up but when they don’t work, it can make for a tense and embarrassing situation. Best to avoid that by making discretion your watchword, not letting your work suffer in anyway and certainly not letting the entire office play the jury to your affair.


Communication is both vertical and horizontal. Vertical being your interaction with superiors and subordinates, and of course horizontal- your interaction with your colleagues. Even when speaking with subordinates, there is a need to be respectful. Good manners require that we treat everyone decently. Also when interacting with superiors, it is generally their prerogative to initiate conversations. Don’t take the lead and start yapping away because you happen to be in the proximity of one. Allow them to steer the conversation, but be responsive.
Making the workplace a more conducive one in your own small way will help make life less stressful and more enjoyable and that is a definite Win-Win!
Ngozi Princewill Utchay
CEO Artelier Lifestyle Consultants. or call: 07063377144

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