The Ten Do’s and Don’ts of a Professional Working Life

Ten things I’ve observed/learned in my professional working life, which can also be applied to every area of life (in no particular order):

Professional worker caricature by
Professional worker caricature

1. It’s okay to say “I don’t know” when I really don’t know something. It’s more credible to say “I will get back to you on that” than to fumble about talking gibberish and losing credibility.

2. Do take responsibility and ownership when things have gone wrong and you recognize the role you played. Never play the blame game and deflect responsibility.

3. If you say you’ll get something done, get it done. Better to admit upfront that you don’t have the capacity or bandwidth to do it than try to take on more than you can, only to disappoint later.

4. Don’t be that person who likes to hear the sound of their own voice on conference calls/meetings. People really don’t like that person…really!

5. When dealing with seniors in the field, learn their m.o. It will save you getting your head bitten off for wasting their time. If they want it short and sweet, then keep it short and sweet and don’t try to show off all your acquired skills and knowledge because they really don’t care.

6. A compliment paid today to a colleague goes a long way tomorrow when you need them to get something done for you. They will bend over backwards to get it done. It’s okay once in a while to “stroke their ego” but don’t lie while doing so. It just might come back to haunt you later.

7. Use what may appear to be your “disadvantage” to your advantage. You will set yourself apart more quickly and rise up the ranks if you play your cards right.

8. Longer hours does not equal efficiency or productivity. Learn to get the job done effectively and ahead of schedule. You will gain more recognition for efficiency than you ever will for being a “FILO” employee (FILO = first in, last out).

9. Become a subject matter expert (SME) in your field and you will not only gain respect from your subordinates and seniors alike, but you will become the “go to” person. Caveat to this one – contrary to popular opinion, don’t strive to be irreplaceable. By this I mean, share as much knowledge as you can while acquiring more knowledge and experience for yourself – you will make room for others to step into your shoes but more importantly, create opportunities for yourself to step into greater shoes.

10. Network, network, network! I’m sure you’ve heard this one several times and frankly speaking it can sound very cliche but getting ahead is never only a function of your productivity at work. Who you know is just as important, if not more, as how good you are at what you do.

This list could go on forever, but I’m taking a leaf of my own observations and keeping it “short and sweet”! If you’ve got any particularly good ones you’ve learned, please do share!


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