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fremen_warrior's avatar

Corporate warfare and office survival tips for rank and file personnel?

Asked by fremen_warrior (5461 points ) February 24th, 2013

I will soon be once again entering an office environment, joining a standard team of 10–15 people +1 to 2 team leaders. I will be required to work there at least a year after my training period, and that is why I need your advice regarding long-term office relations.

Those of you who work an 9–5 office job I would like to ask whether you have any tips for “office survival” i.e. how to avoid conflicts in the workplace, avoid making enemies, etc. What do you do to keep good relations with your coworkers? What are the things, that other people do, that annoy you in your workplace? Is it possible to please everyone? What do you (not) do to make your work experience a content, if not a happy one?

The reason I am asking is though generally I have ok realtions with people at work, I also tend to quickly gain a few really good enemies. This particular position will be relatively long term, so I am looking to better understand office group dynamics, to minimize the damage (and perhaps be less of a pain in the a** to the rest of my new team) ;-)

Cheers!

the fremen

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10 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

You can’t please everyone.
Please yourself and your team leaders.
Don’t comment to co-workers about religion or politics, yours or theirs.
Have coffee breaks/meals with the group, if appropriate. Limit the time to allowed periods of time.
No loud music at the work station, ear buds if allowed.

Tachys's avatar

Try to work as well as you can while not making others look bad. That’s when the trouble starts.

Jeruba's avatar

Knowing more than you’re told is always an advantage. There are many perfectly honest, legitimate ways to keep ahead of developments, and there are wise and unwise ways to use the information.

Here are three of my favorite rules of corporate survival:

1. Always look at papers left behind on the copier or printer.
2. Always read white boards written on in earlier meetings.
3. Always read e-mails sent to you in error.

And one more: if you allow yourself to be seen as “not a team player,” do it with your eyes open. That’s a stigma you’ll never shake, and you’ll miss many opportunities because of it. Just know the cost before you go that route.

Judi's avatar

Keep your personal life out of the office. When it comes up, be polite but vague.
Don’t gossip. Stay above the fray.

Pachy's avatar

Congratulations on your new job. This will be a very exciting (if sometimes scary) time for you. Here area few things I’ve learned the hard way.

* Avoid office politics.
* Don’t vent to anyone except your direct supervisor, in person. Never vent to co-workers or via email.
* Don’t discuss salary with anyone.
* Take advantage of breaks and lunch hours. It’s good to get away from work for short periods of time. But of course don’t take advantage of those benefits.
* Never be afraid to ask questions, even if you feel a little “stupid” sometimes. People who like to answer questions, and the more (and faster) you learn the ropes, the more valuable you’ll be.
* Don’t stay at your desk all the time. Walk around. Stretch your legs and get to know people. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to anyone.
I could go on and on, but here’s my final suggestion:
* Take advantage of the company’s 401K and any other savings mechanism. Get used to putting aside a bit of your salary every paycheck. The future may seem a long way off but take it from me… it’s always closer than you can imagine.

GOOD LUCK !!! And by the way, rid yourself of the phrase “office survival.” Think of it as “building your career.”

wundayatta's avatar

Well, you seem to have a mouth on you. You say a lot of impolitic things online. I wouldn’t be surprised if you behave the same way in an office environment. So the thing to do is to shut yourself up. Don’t give out opinions, except on matters that are work related. Don’t let people know your opinions or who you are.

Frankly, I don’t think you belong in a corporate environment, unless the corporation has a caustic culture. You’ll be pretending to be someone you aren’t, and it will be stressful if you succeed, and you’ll lose your job if you don’t succeed. I can’t imagine you in a corporate job. Just can’t imagine it. But you’ll see. Maybe it’s the right company and it’ll work out. Maybe this is just something you have to go through to realize it isn’t for you.

But any time you have to tame yourself to survive in a situation, you are in the wrong situation. You aren’t doing yourself nor the company any favors. I know the money makes you want the work, but sometimes it really isn’t worth it. Not if it kills your soul.

Anyway. If you can shut yourself down and be corporate fremen when you get there in the morning, and then turn yourself back on when you leave the office at night, and if you can do that happily, more power to you. Because that could well be what it takes. I hope I’m wrong, but that’s my feeling about you and corporations based on your presence here. Admittedly, you could be only showing a small side of yourself here, and my idea about you could be very wrong. I hope so. For your sake.

fremen_warrior's avatar

Thank you everyone for your suggestions, and your honesty. This will be enough I think.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Be cheerful, do your job to the best of your abilities, and keep your head down, also being an overachiever and organized. This has gained me recognition from our office over the last decade.

People in our office who usually are reprimanded or moved out all do something like: talk too much instead of work, not fulfill their job responsiblities, lack time management skills, or are unpleasant to clients. These are the items that will never be tolerated in our office.

Jeruba's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room: I have to add a caution about this one:

* Never be afraid to ask questions, even if you feel a little “stupid” sometimes. People who like to answer questions, and the more (and faster) you learn the ropes, the more valuable you’ll be.

That’s exactly what got me tagged as “not a team player.” It’s a matter of which questions you ask. “What’s the best way to organize this project?” might be welcome, but “Can we state the problem that this is supposed to solve?” might well not be.

Seek's avatar

Never underestimate the power of caffeine. Be the guy who brings in Good Coffee, and you will be king.

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