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: