Prior to graduating college, you will hear tons to things about the difference between school and the workforce. Tips, tricks, horror stories, advice, all the like. I would say 9 times out of 10 it was useful information, nothing ground-breaking or earth shattering, but usually there was something beneficial about it. One thing no one ever told me was that you would be working with all types of different people. Maybe this seems like a big, fat “DUH.” But to me, one of the biggest challenges of transitioning from full-time to student to full-time employee was learning how to work and navigate situations with people TOTALLY different from you.
As a college student, even other peers who “seem” different from you actually are a lot more similar than you think. That is not the case in the workforce. In between learning about 401ks, proper email etiquette, and dress codes, it seems like everyone fails to mention that your co-workers will be all different ages, from all walks of life, from here, there, and everywhere and these differences will kind of, matter. Through my journey, I have learned two foolproof tips I think that can help in any situation, any age gap, industry difference, etc.
- Be Polite
Maybe you had a mother like mine who probably repeated the phrase “kill them with kindness” no less than five times a week throughout childhood or maybe you have never thought much about etiquette whatsoever. Either way it does not matter as long as you learn your P’s & Q’s now! My aunt used to call using “please,” “thank you,” and other polite niceties “magic.” She would say, “use your magic,” and we knew exactly what to do! There is truly something magical about using manners and practicing good etiquette. It will take you a long way in business, and in life in general. It will also help bridge the gaps between different types of co-workers or people you interact with.
- Be Respectful
To me, respect is a direct descendent of politeness, or vice versa. Exhibiting respect for everyone you work for AND with (even in a diverse workplace) will take you far and Chron.com agrees. Respect your elders, respect those younger than you, respect those you disagree with, respect those you do not understand, you get where I am going with this, and respect everyone. Mutual respect will boost profitability and productive because it encourages a positive atmosphere. Everyone feels appreciated, which in turns makes everyone happy, collaborative, and cooperative aka a breeding ground for success.
Yes it’s that easy! These two things are all you need to do to combat the one thing no one told you about starting working. These tips will be useful right when you are getting started in your career and will carry through the test of time. I seriously doubt most retired CEOs look back on their careers and say, “I wish I had been less polite,” or “I wish I hadn’t respected those who were different than me more.” Nothing bad can come from remembering what your mama (hopefully) told ya.