February 23, 2023

The ultimate guide to the workplace – mistakes to avoid at work

Did you know that every workplace has its own rules of the game? You probably understood it once you were already employed, as you were trying to get the most out of your position or climb the career ladder. Before we get into tips and tricks on how to win the workplace game, let's check what definitely should be avoided. 

Don’t compare yourself to others

The very first mistake to avoid at the workplace and in life overall is to stop comparing yourself to others. In general, we tend to compare our appearance, and at work, we compare our skills and achievements. However, we are all different people and have various stories, and it can't work like that. Comparing yourself is not only counterproductive but also doesn't bring any benefit to you. 

Instead of comparing yourself to others, try to compare yourself to the person you've been one, five, or ten years ago. How did you progress within your career? How many projects have you successfully delivered? This comparison is the only valid comparison out there. Your ultimate goal should be to recognize your wins, strengthen your self-esteem, and focus on what else will be your objective further on.

Don’t downplay your wins 

What's your first reaction when someone praises your work? If you usually reply, "Oh, it was nothing," then it's time to stop being modest and start recognizing your work. Why was it nothing? You have spent weeks or months working on a project, adjusting the workflow, and communicating with stakeholders – the whole piece took you many hours of work, and it definitely wasn't "nothing."

Instead, say, "Thank you." Start acknowledging your work, from the small task you've done to the big challenging projects you've delivered. Remember about the importance of your work and yourself as a professional, and be grateful.

Don’t wait to be noticed

Do you work overtime for many years in a row but still don't get that dream promotion? It might be a bummer for someone, but only hard work won't get you places. Based on the famous Pareto principle, 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes. Meaning if you do 20% of smart work, it will get you 80% of results. And, unfortunately, the other way around, if you work 80% hard work, it will bring you only 20% of results. 

So what does it mean – to bring only 20% effort for the best 80% result? For people to notice you, switch your hard work to networking. Be more active at company events, get to know people, share your feedback, and show your work relevant for discussion. Let everyone know about your work and be proud of the professional you are. 

Don’t say Yes to everyone 

This point is hard, but it brings many benefits to your personal and professional life. It's prevalent in the workplace to say Yes to everyone. Is your colleague going to lunch and asking you to finish the report they started? Or is someone from another team ready to pass you on a big project, assuming you have a lot of free time (which you don't)? If it makes you uncomfortable and violates your boundaries – say No. 

We indeed think we'll hurt someone's feelings if we reject them. However, it's absolutely normal to stay confident in the workplace, be accountable for the job you have, and let others know that you're not a robot operating 24/7. If you can, say No and move on. Stay within your boundaries and be confident, and others will stop trying to dump you on projects they don't want to finish themselves. 

Don’t over-apologize 

Do you tend to over-apologize at work, always including Sorry in your written or spoken sentence? Yes, it's totally fine to apologize when you made a mistake or affected your colleague. In most cases, though, we say Sorry too often and when our colleagues don't wait for our apology at all. 

If you think that once you amid the word Sorry, others will think you're too pushy or demanding – they won't. On the contrary, you'll be perceived as a confident professional who knows your own boundaries and sticks to the values. Own up to your decisions and stop saying Sorry so much.

Do you want to learn more lessons on how to win in the workplace that nobody teaches you? Check out the brand new Femme Palette E-book "How to play the workplace game," where you'll find tips from other women based on their mistakes and learnings they made throughout their careers.

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