|http://www.sina.com.cn 2005/03/09 16:06 国际在线|
June was part of a team that had struggled hard to finish a difficult assignment. "I wanted to call it a day and get home as much as anyone," she recalls. But she found herself saying, "I'm sorry, but we need to do some more work on this."
Suddenly she was the most unpopular person in the room. No one agreed with her, and some were openly angry that she was rocking the boat. "But I stuck to my guns," she says. "When the report was presented we were commended for picking up on the very thing I said we'd missed. I was right and everyone had to respect that."
THE POPULARITY TRAP
Respect versus popularity—it is the old conflict between being professional and being personal. We want to do a good job, but we want to be friends with everyone, too. The truth is, you can't always be liked if you do your job property. And the desire to keep everyone happy can become a weakness.
"At best," says management consultant Jennie Lumley, "worrying about what others think makes us reactive when we need to be proactive. At worst, we're so busy playing the office sweetheart that we lose sight of the demands of the job and our needs."
This is a particular problem for women professions, Lumley finds. "It's a childhood hangover. We all long to be the most popular girl in school. Also, girls are brought up to try to please. This need to be liked gets in the way of career progress. At work, men don't give a thought to what others think so long as they get their way."
AT TIMES YOU HAVE TO BE TOUGH
Although we would all love to be Ms Popular at home and in the office, at work the task is not to be liked, but to be effective, says computer sales executive Andrea.
"This is possibly the single most important lesson we can learn. You can't always be popular. You shouldn't have to be; it's not what you're there for. Progress depends on having your own ideas and sticking to them. And that means having the guts to make difficult decisions when you have to," she says.
The soft decision is never a real option, as many women find. Pat had to deal with a colleague who had repeatedly been warned about her absenteeism, and now had to be told to go. When Pat tried to fire her, the colleague was so distraught, Pat gave her another chance.
"It was a disaster," Pat says. "I had fired her and she'd walked away from it. My colleagues were resentful. I lost their respect, my bosses' and my own. And I still had to deal with her in the end!"
We're aware from day one in our first job that every decision we make is either a building block or a stumbling block on our career path. We should use the time to lay the groundwork of future respect by being professional I.e. responsible, innovative, diligent and reliable.
Respect is never given for nothing. Claire knew that she was offered a move to Paris with her finance company because she had gained a reputation for keeping cool under fire. And the next step up the ladder would depend on her performance in Paris.
"It's essential to build regard if you're going to be able to do what you want in your job," she says. Winning respect enhances all you do. A proposal for change is more likely to be well received; an application for a raise or a request for promotion is more likely to succeed.
COUNTDOWN TO RESPECT
Know what you believe in and stick to it. Nothing loses you respect quicker than inconsistency.
Keep your distance. Be friendly but not over familiar. Don't confide intimate details.
Keep your own counsel. Don't share all your dilemmas. Even if you resolve them you'll have left the impression that you're 14)indecisive or unable to cope with pressure.
Don't ask anyone to do anything you wouldn't do yourself.
Communicate—simply and often.
Keep your eye on the objective.
Don't get drawn into colleagues' personal lives.
Keep cool. Don't respond instantly or say yes to everything.
Keep your head. A calm presence is an invaluable asset.
Be good at your job. Know that you're good. Self-respect is the key. It'll show up in the way people deal with you.
Accept that you can't please all the people all the time—or even some of the people all of the time.
The woman who builds her professional edge in this way isn't condemned to loneliness and isolation. You can be firm without being unpleasant, and being tough doesn't mean being rude or confrontational. Persuasive and assertive are the watch words.
"To make the right decisions and push them through, you will need the kid glove more often than the boxing glove," Lumley suggests. And a sense of humor is vital.
If you're doing your job properly you'll seldom be everyone's favorite person. But the payoff comes in the form of a deeper liking and admiration. Respect is like money in the bank: You have to put it in before you can draw it out. Don't worry about popularity, work on respect. That will take you a lot further in the long run.