Ace the workplace without sweat: 8 ways to work smarter in 2020

Ace the workplace without sweat: 8 ways to work smarter in 2020

Tips for being happier, wiser and more self-aware at work.

Illustration of office chair moving with windsock attached
It's time to propel yourself forward. (Illustration: Albert Tercero/The New York Times)

From friendships to salary negotiations, 2020 can be the year you conquer work and your career. Taking hold of your future begins with standing up for yourself, while also learning to navigate the complicated world of office politics. The murky friendships and bureaucracy can at times be maddening, but persevering does not only mean climbing the corporate ladder. It could also mean defining your own path.

FIND MORE HAPPINESS AT WORK

As many as a third of United States workers say they don’t feel engaged at work. The reasons vary widely, and everyone’s relationship with work is unique. But there are small ways to improve any job, and those incremental improvements can add up to major increases in job satisfaction.

In fact, one study found that changing even just a small portion of what makes up your job can have a major impact on your overall happiness. In other words: You don’t need to change everything about your job to see substantial benefits. A few changes here and there can be all you need.

USE YOUR STRENGTHS MORE WISELY

In the past two decades, a movement to play to our strengths has gained momentum in the world of work. It’s a travesty that many people are fixated solely on repairing their weaknesses and don’t have the chance to do what they do best every day. But it’s a problem that many people aren’t thoughtful about when to do what they do best.

TRACK – AND LEARN FROM – YOUR FAILURES

When things go right, we’re generally pretty good at identifying why they went right – that is, if we even take time to analyse the success at all. Preparation, proper scheduling, smart delegation and so on. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But falling on our face gives us the rare opportunity to find and address the things that went wrong (or, even more broadly, the traits or habits that led us to fail), and it’s an opportunity we should welcome.

AVOID DRAMA

Gossip at work is common, as is the desire to be a part of a group. In a new work environment, this combination can be harmful if you fall in with colleagues who are known for being negative and wasting productive time.

While complaining with co-workers can turn some of these colleagues into friends, Jill Jacinto, a millennial career expert, said it’s best to avoid gossip altogether.

“If someone asks, ‘What do you think of Mark? Have you worked with him yet?’ just focus on the professional,” she said. “‘He’s great to work with. He seems to know technology really well.’”

ASK YOURSELF: ARE YOU DOING WHAT YOU WANT TO BE DOING?

Maybe you are! Or maybe you’re not? Who knows! It’s one of the toughest questions we’ll grapple with in our lives.

But when was the last time you were completely honest with yourself and thought about it? If you’re like most people, probably not recently.

“I’m a big believer in evaluating where you think you are in your life about once a year,” said Art Markman, professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, and author of the book Bring Your Brain To Work.

He added: “Don’t wait for a tragedy to strike before you’re willing to actually think about this.”

LEARN TO DEAL WITH JERKS WITHOUT BEING ONE

At some point in your work life, you’ve probably had to interact with a jerk. They’re the people who demean and disrespect you. They might steal credit for your successes, blame you for their failures, invade your privacy or break their promises, or bad-mouth you, scream at you and belittle you. As the organisational psychologist Bob Sutton puts it, they treat you like dirt, and either they don’t know it or they don’t care.

BE SMARTER ABOUT ASKING FOR ADVICE

It’s a request that experienced people of any industry have gotten at some point: “Can I buy you coffee and pick your brain?” While well-intentioned, execution is everything, and sometimes these unsolicited requests for casual, informational interviews can come off as entitled and presumptuous. And for the receiver, it can be difficult or even unrealistic for a busy professional to coordinate bespoke consultation appointments for everyone who asks.

GET BETTER AT JOB INTERVIEWS

Dr David Austern, a clinical instructor with the department of psychiatry at N.Y.U. Langone Health, noted that 92 per cent of adults have job interview anxiety. We worry that we won’t be able to express ourselves clearly, or that we won’t look right. What if people think we’re awkward or have a bad handshake? What if we’re evaluated poorly compared to others? With all this comes the behavioural manifestations – shaky hands, getting queasy, sweating – that ratchet the anxiety up even further.

By Tim Herrera © 2018 The New York Times

Source: NYT

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