In the past year, I’ve worked from three cities, led a couple of projects and supported several more, slept well and slept poorly, made new friends, alienated some acquaintances and listened to hundreds of hours of music to keep myself sane.
Through it all, I’ve been reminded over and over again that just like there’s more to living than being alive, there’s more to work than showing up and appearing to do it.
Here’s everything else I never want to forget:
1. Stand at the back of the room.
You’re right, that entire sentence is metaphorical. The point is to have some perspective, and that usually means stepping back so you can see things properly.
2. Invite close scrutiny.
Being open isn’t the easiest thing generally and it’s even harder at work, but there’s a serious advantage in making it easy for the people you work with to ask you anything – it’ll make them trust you, maybe even gravitate toward you because they’ll find you relatable.
3. Be clear about how you like to work.
Case in point: I don’t like open offices. I don’t like offices, period. I would have saved myself a lot of stress if I had admitted that early enough and spelt it out clearly.
4. Show your emotions.
There’s a lot to be said for holding your emotions in at work. I mean, it’s work, not your family house. But emotions are a major part of being human, so do less emotion suppression and more emotion management. Let your feelings show. Just be sure that you’ll be able to look people in the eye comfortably when you’re done expressing yourself.
5. Say less, do more listening.
Can you hear the sound of your own voice? If you can, you probably can’t hear much else clearly including what other people are saying. Be quiet every now and then to make it easier for you to focus on everyone else’s voices. You’ll learn more about them that way.
6. Use tools, nurture people.
You’d like to think that people know the difference between a work laptop and a colleague, but we often treat both the same – using them until they break. But people aren’t machines, and even machines need to be looked after so why don’t you start nurturing people by caring for them beyond what they can give you?
7. Take it outside work.
Sometimes, the work environment gets in the way of better work relationships. So get to know your colleagues in less restricting settings, then take the friendship back to the work and see how your interactions improve.
8. Serve, then serve again.
When you begin to find happiness in giving of yourself to people and causes, you’ll find yourself giving even more. Think about what your service means, how it keeps things working and makes a difference. Maybe it’s a selfish thing, but that’s a good kind of selfishness because it brings fulfillment.
9. Recognise praiseworthy moments.
You won’t always be the one being clapped for or congratulated. Don’t let the pursuit of commendation blind you to other people’s excellence. When they do well, acknowledge it. Out loud.
10. Encourage individuality.
Some people want to blend in because they don’t want to stand out in what they think is the wrong way. No, please. As long as it’s not unprofessional in the most generic sense, everyone is allowed to be the original version of themselves at work. Diversity, right? Right.
All photos were taken by me.