The Nice People's Guide to Business
by Lisa Lake
I re-entered the workforce after years of being a stay at home mom. I
knew that I was good at what I did, but when I first started back in
business it seemed that nothing I did was good enough. I felt I was lost
at sea. It seemed that people were mad at me for no reason, or people
didn't like the things I had to say. My work was good, but not fast
enough, and on and on. Sometimes I would leave the office so stressed out
that when I got home I couldn't be cheery with my husband and kids.
I was determined to get out of my rut so I started analyzing what was
going on. I knew I did a good job, and that I was a pleasant enough
person. It had to be something else. I asked my husband what he thought,
and he brought up office politics. He said that, in a lot of businesses,
your social skills and behavior have as much or more influence as your
actual job performance on how you were treated. He told me to open my eyes
and ears and to start noticing what was going on around me and to try to
The first thing I did was listen to the morning conversations in the
break room. I was usually pretty chatty with the friendlier people, but I
decided to keep it down for a few days. What were people talking about? It
seemed that people were talking about business issues and current events.
I guess I'd forgotten that everyone didn't have kids, and that soccer and
scouts weren't popular office topics.
I made a commitment to myself to read the morning paper on the bus,
instead of the latest romance novel, at least 3 days a week, and to make
an input in the more serious office conversations. Of course I'd still
talk about my kids with the ladies I'd become friendly with, but on our
own time. The guys in the office really started responding. They even ask
me my opinion on issues now.
Next I decided to figure out why my boss, who was seemingly so
friendly, would sometimes complain about me behind my back. I really
started listening to what she was asking for, and I realized that she was
a little vague sometimes, and therefore maybe I wasn't always
understanding what she wanted.
I decided to start asking more questions to make sure I was up on
things. One thing I figured out in this process was that when she said,
"Could you try to get to this," she really meant, "I need
this right now!" Well, I was worried at first that she'd think I was
bugging her, but after a few days of my new approach, she actually pulled
me aside and thanked me, and told me my work was really improving.
I was also a little worried about asking for help so much around my
area. Computers were new to me and I wasn't really good at using them. I
started asking the people near me to help me with the different programs,
and they were pretty willing to help, at first. I didn't catch on really
quickly, and I started noticing sighs and glares when I would ask for help
Well, the first thing I decided to do was to thank everyone for their
help, so I made up goody baskets for everyone in my area one Monday. I
came in a little early and left cookies and homemade candy, along with a
card saying "thanks for the help," for everyone in my division.
Everyone loved them, and the smiles returned.
Next I went down to the community college and registered for a six week
office applications seminar. I missed my kids for a few nights, but it was
sure worth it. Soon I was one of those people who gets asked the
questions, and my boss commended me on my initiative.
Well, my experience at that office went from bad to great, and with
only a little effort on my part. I'm in business for myself now, but I
find that everything I learned during that period still helps me with
clients, and even with my family. It definitely pays to pay attention.
Lisa Lake has created a list of top promotional methods
on her http://MyAdBlaster.com
Lisa also writes ad copy that sells for DrNunley's http://InternetWriters.com
Reach her at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org