Life After Undergrad: People don’t always grow up, they just get better jobs

When I was younger my mom told me that sometimes adults can be more childish than actual children. I didn’t quite get this idea until I started working full-time– more so in a leadership role. At first it baffled me how people who were in positions of such esteem and regard could be so immature and petty. I witnessed grown adults holding grudges, gossiping and being cliquey– worse than middle school girls. My first thought was “well I’ll just avoid all of that and mind my business” but unfortunately gossip culture will find you; and it will test you.

I figured that by being nice to everyone, not overstepping the work/ socializing boundary that I could avoid that whole whirlwind of picking sides– I was wrong. In being nice to everyone and chit chatting over the water cooler, I opened myself up to other employees prodding for information about their coworkers because I seemed to get along with everyone. When I didn’t play into the game I became a scapegoat and a goody-two-shoes. While I don’t often let idle gossip bother me, dealing with such petulant behavior from adults was tiring. I ended up putting my foot down and just making it clear to all that if something was amiss or there was confusion I should be asked directly– and not relayed messages through the grapevine.

In my middle school days, gossip and ally making was rattling to me and I wanted to badly to be on the right side. I found however, that the “right” side often meant compromising my character or my morality and I just couldn’t do it. In elementary school I was an outcast for making friends with a girl who had an accident and in middle school I was made fun of by proxy because one of my best friends was a little overweight. Once I reached high school I was over it entirely and I built myself a network of girlfriends who didn’t give a damn what people thought of them and although not all of us keep in touch anymore the lesson they taught resonated.  

I don’t need to be liked or loved by everyone to do my job, or to be good at it and I certainly don’t owe anyone anything. The most important thing that I can say is to be firm in your footing; stand up for what you believe in and who you are. Most of all, do your job, do it well and don’t tread anywhere the ice may be too thin.

Five Key Principles of Successful Connection

a skeleton key on top of a scrap of paper that says "COMMUNICATION"

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“Any message you try to convey must contain a piece of you. You can’t just deliver words. You can’t merely convey information. You need to be more than just a messenger. You must be the message you want to deliver. Otherwise, you won’t have credibility and you won’t connect.”

John Maxwell

The first key principle is the spoken word.  I‘ve heard many people say that they’re an introvert and don’t like to talk much. While that may be true, if you want to get ahead and be influential as a leader, you will have to communicate with others. You don’t need to be a great communicator to be influential—just sincere and genuine. In fact, some of the most influential people are not good speakers, but they show that they really care.

The second key principle is giving your point of view. You have to believe what you are saying is important to be said. If you believe it, then others will also believe it. But you have to know what that is. Ask yourself, “What is it that I am saying and why am I saying it?” I had a professor who would always ask, “So what?” Only we can answer that question.

The third key principle is how you deliver your message. Communication goes beyond mere words. By this I mean your physical demeanor. This ranges from paying attention while communicating and eliminating distractions to wearing appropriate clothing and being well groomed. This may seem simple, but so many people, unintentionally, let these issues get in the way of their connection with others. Even your facial expressions matter.

The fourth key principle is to be authentic and have integrity. Don’t just say things because you want to appear in a certain likeness. People can often read though that and see when you are not being real. To make sincere connections, you have to be trustworthy because it not just what you say but it’s how you say it. If you speak with passion and energy, people will remember it.

The fifth key principle is to always find a connection with others. This is more of a learned skill and comes from your ability to find a way to connect with the subject. You don’t have to be a genius or have experience but just find common ground.

a cartoon of a green face talking to a blue face

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Experiment and Practice:

A good idea is to videotape yourself having a conversation and play it back to see how you perform. It may seem strange but it can help to see how others see you.

Also it is important to observe others. Who do you feel has good communication skills and what do they do? Try to identify some of the things that they do and then try doing those things yourself.

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