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What I wish My College Professors Would Have Taught Me: It’s okay to NOT like everyone you work with

28 Aug

There are some things that can and will never be taught in the classroom. Maybe it’s because those topics are seen as too radical or have been flagged as a lawsuit risk, but truly these are the missing pieces of wisdom that leave many college grads as an incomplete puzzle with still much to figure out in the real world. In the spirit of Back-to-School, this will be a 5-part series exploring the top lessons I wish would have been included in my own college degree. It’s blunt and it’s honest, but it’s sure to be interesting.

It’s okay to NOT like everyone you work with.

Having provided the warning that this particular post is blunter than what I usually write, I’m just going to put it out there—Your job is to provide a product or a service, not to make friends.  I feel like my professors forgot to mention the fact that unlike turning in a college paper, you can try your hardest and think you’re putting your best foot forward and people will still choose to not like you. It sure would have prepared me for a few jobs where, without reason, a colleague would be unbearable to work with. I struggled with the “why don’t they like me” questions and it truly became a work-hindering distraction.

If friendship develops among colleagues, which many of mine have, that’s a fabulous bonus, but it’s key to remember it’s neither necessary nor helpful to force a friendship that just isn’t there. If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot stand a co-worker it most certainly IS your job to be mature and respectful, but accept the fact that you won’t click with everyone and not everyone will or should like you. Sometimes the most efficient working relationships are the ones that stay at the office. You keep to the task at hand and have major incentive to complete it as quickly as possible.  If you’re going to choose to let your differences divide you, open communication is essential.  As soon as your differences hinder your ability or willingness to communicate, it becomes a roadblock to your work. Maturely confront the situation head on and refocus on your one, shared goal: getting the job done and getting it done well.

I suggest a required college class solely focused on office etiquette and how to handle those awkward and complicated work situations we will all inevitably encounter. Hey, I’d be more than happy to take my past experiences public and guest lecture if it means less grads will be blind-sided with this career road bump.

In case you missed a few “classes”, here’s some reading homework:

Lesson One: Group projects can be completed alone.

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10 Comments

Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Education

 

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10 responses to “What I wish My College Professors Would Have Taught Me: It’s okay to NOT like everyone you work with

  1. broadsideblog

    August 28, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Not sure where anyone would ever have the fantasy you’d be liked at work. Being smart, talented and hardworking enough to keep your boss happy and your enemies at bay seems like plenty to me.

    But I’ve also chosen to work most of my career freelance.

     
  2. stephaniec313

    August 29, 2011 at 12:11 am

    I know what’s its like to be so ‘pumped-up’ about a new job, ready to take on the world, only to have a narrow-minded coworker….usually someone who has been stuck in their job, marriage, life, whatever….bring about dysfunction directed my way, for no other reason that I could ascertain other than jealousy!
    Steph in Florida
    P.S. “The Office” is great…those are good clips.

     
  3. educlaytion

    August 30, 2011 at 12:32 am

    I like the series you’re doing. I’ve been in college classrooms for the past 15 years and you are right about the important stuff missing from those lectures.

     
  4. writerwannabe2011

    August 30, 2011 at 2:23 am

    Oh my word! Funniest video — still laughing! It’s hard getting along with some co-workers — I think I’ve worked with every single one in that video 😀 Thanks for the laugh.

     

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