Promise yourself you’ll never talk shit about other people. Even when the people around you are talking shit, even when you agree with the shit they’re saying. You don’t have to make a big deal of it, just don’t partake in it.
Once people get the idea you’re not into saying mean shit about other people behind their backs, the amount of shit they talk around you will decrease. It isn’t fun to talk shit unless everybody’s talking shit. Your decision to stop talking shit and their eventual reaction to you not reciprocating the shit talking will positively affect both of you, as well as your relationship.
I don’t know, for me, since I made this change in how I interact with people the amount and quality of my friendships has grown. People will trust you more if they haven’t listened to you gossip about other people. You will be seen as more a more positive person than other friends who do talk shit. The gap gossiping used to fill will be replaced with way more interesting and/or intimate conversation too.
I currently work for the Federal government, and used to work in a high profile office, which reported directly to parliament. After years surrounded by important people, Media coverage and generally feeling way over my head, here are a few things I learned along the way:
- Fake it till you make it; confidence is more important than knowledge.
- Don’t be intimidated by anyone, everyone is playing a role and wearing a mask.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions; it makes you look interested, and you will learn something. Anything can be learnt if you put the effort in. Everything anyone knows, they learned along the way.
- Everyone, even the president. Ask open-ended questions to move conversations along. Learn the difference between open and closed questions.
- Along the same line, learn to argue for and against a variety of topics. If you can do this, you can take any position on any matter. Being able to argue a point is the basis of persuasion and learning.
- When you are having a conversation, use open body posture. Learn the difference between open and closed body language. When you feel uncomfortable, mirror the other person’s body language.
- Learn how to paraphrase and summarize, to ensure understanding and avoid mis-communications. Along the same line, if you are going to use a telephone, record yourself talking. Are you difficult to understand? Do you talk fast? Etc. Put yourself in the shoes of the other person.
- Knowledge is power. Don’t just learn how to do your job, learn why it has to be done a certain way. Improve on it if you can. Demonstrate your knowledge to your bosses, it will get you noticed.
- Go to your managers with solutions, instead of problems. Make their job easier, learn how they work, and then ride their coattails up the ladder.
- Your attitude is everything. Learn how to deal with stress without changing your behavior. Doing a high stress job is one thing, doing it while making it seem seamless is another. This is also why knowledge is important – the more you know, the more confident you become, and the better you look.
- Learn Etiquette. It might seem stupid, but it is the basis of common business courtesy, and it DOES make a difference.
- Never burn a bridge! Your old manager might someday be your new director!
- Build a network, become their information source, and let them be yours. Even grabbing a beer with a former colleague once a year will keep you in the loop at the old office. Former co-workers might have gotten a new position in that office you always wanted to work in, great! Go to them for a beer, and ask about the office. It’s all about connections and information.
- Find your allies. There are some people who will sink you, but there are some people looking out for you. Once you are confident that someone is your ally, relax a bit and use foul language, or say something inappropriate to them once in a while (not harassment, just a bad joke, etc. something that is not ‘the norm’ in the office setting). This way, you are ‘letting them into your little click, and they will feel like a friend and look out for you.
- Never, ever, ever gossip if you can help it. It’s the bane of the office setting.The worst thing that can happen to you in an office setting, is having people often saying : ‘well, Tim said that…’ Better to stay out of it.
- If you want to find out if you can trust someone, you can; repeat already heard gossip while changing one key fact, ask them to keep it quiet. See if it comes back to you. If it does, cross that person off the ‘trust’ list. This should only be used when necessary…once you find an ally, you should stick with them. In all honesty, I only end up really trusting 1 out of every 20 or 30 people. Most people can’t keep their mouth shut unfortunately.