Creating Your Own Corporate Utopia
“If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.” – Marc Anthony
You've probably heard this before, but how many of you can actually say you've experienced what this means at its core? Most people may think this idea is exclusive to the actual work you're doing day in and day out. For example, if you're an orthopedic surgeon and love opening up knees to operate on and heal those with torn ACLs and MCLs, you may feel this way regardless of what goes on in the “office” outside of the operating room.
While this may be true for some niche and exotic jobs, I believe for those of us who might not be in our 5-year-old envisioned superhero jobs that it's still possible to get the same satisfaction and enjoyment from our current position as those who might have.
The “office culture”?
Office culture is nothing new to us. Many of us have been phone screened before ever going in for an interview for a job by either an HR person or possibly the leader of the team we'd be joining. Usually those calls or short meetings are to do a few things like confirm the credentials in our resume are correct and current or that we can simply communicate relatively effectively, but there's also an element of culture fit that's happening.
Depending on the business and/or how established the team is we'll be joining, they've likely established a way of doing things that has created an already “well-oiled machine”. The team has coalesced, is comfortable with each other, and expectations are clear as to how things operate. As much as we'd like to believe that we're all human and should be able to interact and work together regardless of background or circumstance, the reality is in business there are very real tangible benefits and efficiencies that are gained by having a team of people who work together well and not just work together, period.
How do you fit in?
Just because your boss and team members were all high school soccer stars and stream EPL games in the middle of the day or are in a book club and read a different book every two weeks when you aren't much of a reader, it's still absolutely possible to connect and become a vital and valued part of the team from both a professional and cultural perspective.
Here are a few things you can use and work on that will get you ahead in both interviews and help you ensure you are truly enjoying your time with the people you spend 40hr a week with.
Oxford defines emotional intelligence (EQ) as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” It is the cornerstone of how to create, build, and maintain meaningful and lasting relationships with those around you.
There are definitely particular personalities that tend to excel at EQ naturally, but I believe attaining a high EQ can be done through practice and hard work as well even if you're naturally socially a little awkward or introverted. Establishing good mental and emotional habits when interacting with others like listening carefully, picking up on social & physical queues, and even owning and pivoting a conversation depending on an established goal is important in both communicating effectively with work mates and genuinely enjoying the time you spend with them. If you can find out what makes others click, you can have more meaningful and intimate conversations with people who are even total opposites of you and enjoy it as you would with someone who is just like you.
With the current state of ideological separation among many and the rampant political polarization that exists, empathy is one of the most important tools we can have in our arsenal to combat tension and arguments. It requires listening and trying to understand why someone feels the way they do. If you're willing and able to truly have and use empathy with all different kinds of people and situations, you can not only help solve hard emotional and mental problems in the world, but also have a much easier time fitting in and enjoying the people you work with.
When you're stressed at home or work, it's pretty tough to remain positive. That being said, if you are able to control your stress and really mentally flip hectic times on their head into positives, it can make a significant impact on you and those around you.
I vividly remember how much of an impact a particular co-worker has made and continues to make on me by almost always remaining positive regardless of the challenges we are facing at the time. Something we have likely all heard before but does in fact help if you can channel this mindset, “always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” Obviously it's sometimes difficult or impossible to literally turn an upcoming challenge into something less challenging, but the point is to stay positive and emit positive energy and it will be infectious to those around you. People will notice and you'll be a forced to be reckoned with.
We all have our own lives, circumstances, situations, occupations, and many more differences, but with some tweaking in the way we behave and think it's possible to be happy at work regardless of what you do. As an added bonus it will also almost certainly impact those around you positively. Instilling and propagating these behaviors are attributes of a real, impactful leader and a better more meaningful life in general.