Nicky's Blog

8 Lessons for the New Professional

May 10, 2011
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I am nearing my two year mark since graduating from college –  the realization of which has moved me to consider my work experiences thus far. At twenty-four years old, I am always looking to fine tune my professional self. Here are 8 lessons I’ve learned on business etiquette that many young professionals can attest to and almost-graduates can make use of.

1. Under-promise, and over-deliver. If you commit to delivering a goal, it has to get done. No exceptions.

2. Over-communicate. We all have selective memory and we don’t recall the same conversations. Therefore, reiterating what you are doing when you are doing it helps all parties involved know that you’re moving the needle.

3. Use the office lingo.  Speak using the same work abbreviations and expressions your colleagues use. This is especially helpful when starting a new job – it reiterates that you are meeting the learning curve and that you notice details.

4.  Soliloquies have no place in e-mails. As a liberal arts school graduate, essay writing is my specialty; but, essays do not belong in e-mails. When sending e-mails, make them concise and “actionable.” At my first job, I wrote poetic monologues (slight exaggeration), but I learned quickly that this was a big taboo. Sorry to break it to you but the VP does not  have time to read your 5 paragraph e-mail.

5. Carbon copying can be a cardinal sin or your saving grace. Carbon copying is generally useful for letting others know work is getting done.  Adding or removing people from the cc line can have vastly different consequences, however. Adding someone can make the urgency of an email carry weight, but removing someone can sometimes get you in trouble, as it can be perceived as challenging hierarchies, especially if that person is senior. Rule of thumb: always think twice before you hit the delete button.

6. Never underestimate the power of ‘Thank You.’ Give thanks when it is deserved. That is, don’t be cheap with your thank yous. We are all busy in our work lives and sometimes we can neglect to show gratitude for a work achievement or a personal favor.  Sometimes giving thanks can mean the difference of maintaining or losing a good working relationship.

7. Don’t say sorry unless your actions merit it. Working in the corporate sector, I have observed that men, as compared to women, do not say sorry unless they have done something for which they believe they need to apologize for. Whereas women tend to say “sorry” in any situation that is uncomfortable, awkward, disappointing even when they are not responsible for said situation. When you say sorry you are accepting accountability for the problem. Also, subconsciously people start to associate you with or, even worst, as the problem. Start reducing “sorry” from your vocabulary and in the long-term, I promise, you won’t have anything to be sorry about.

8. You’re as awesome as your last body of work. In college, this made perfect sense: A + A + B + A + C = B+ . But, in the work world, the equation works like so: A + A + B + A + C = C  which can make you want to scream “WTF!?”  My advice: treat your supervisors as though they have long-term memory loss –  always try to outshine your last achievement and you will continue to do exactly that: shine.

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About author

A lover of people, the arts, parks, curiosity, spontaneity, altruism, self-exploration, and story telling. I believe in living your life nakedly and on fire. I am one of triplets: I have two sisters running about in the city coping my look. If you see "me", think twice. Much of my writing is inspired by my daily happenings. Much of it is also closely connected to my years at Bates College. This blog is for anyone looking for inspiring insights and stories.

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