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Working Better: Workplace Tips and Administrative Magic Tricks

Updated on September 12, 2012
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I have held various administrative jobs for at least 15 years, taking on all sorts of responsibilities, and I can keep an office organized at fifty paces. So I’d like to share a few tips for organization as well as credibility, respect, communication, and other workplace complexities. All these methods have been tested and they work, not just in theory but in everyday practice.

Change your voice

No, not your vocal range – your vocal tone. Sometimes a coworker can derail a project, generate unnecessary work for you, or otherwise do something that creates a bad environment. During those times, instead of allowing irritation to show in your voice, employ your “pass-the-butter” voice when responding. This is the same non-threatening tone as used to ask for butter at the table. It’s less likely to sound defensive... and make the situation worse.

Ask yourself why you care

What is it that bugs you about your office nemesis, and why exactly do you care, anyway? Figure these out, and it will help: you will gain insight about that person by determining what reward they receive by behaving in manners that affect you, and ignoring the behaviors that drive you up the wall will be easier.

You’ll find it’s more practical to put your energy into suggesting or modeling behaviors for these people to start, rather than behaviors you may want them to stop. It’s possible to adjust situations over time to reduce whatever reward that person receives, and they will probably not notice the change. With time and patience it can work, without being detrimental to others. Machiavellian or even Pavlovian? Maybe… but with a twist.

Check your unconscious cues

People can tell when someone else is feeling weak or uncertain. So, figure out what unconscious cues you are sending. I've learned to recognize when I am about to hunch over my desk and appear less than confident. If I take up more space instead (i.e. standing or sitting straighter), people assume I am more in control of myself and my situation. This is most useful to remember when you are put into a situation unwittingly and may be unsure what is expected of you.

Think about the boss

Be sensitive to your manager’s (or supervisor's or director's) ultimate responsibility. If you don’t know what that responsibility is, ask! He or she may not give you all the details, but it will be far easier to determine the best way to move forward by knowing the point of the project.

Feel the fear… and do it anyway

This is an especially useful tip, because who doesn’t feel nervous or stressed out occasionally? On those occasions when there is no choice for you except to be in stressful situations, allow yourself to be nervous for a short period of time, and then get over it. Rise to the challenge, allow your skills to showcase themselves, and you never know – you could get a fabulous compliment.

Here's an example: at one of the first board meetings I attended as scribe, I almost fell off my chair when I received a public compliment about meeting minutes I had carefully written for a different committee. I was pleased and proud.

No best friends!

At work, that is. It’s just not a good idea. By giving yourself the right not to be liked, you are trading that for being more respected. Sometimes you have to be firm with colleagues, vendors, clients, or other people who just want to do things their way. By treating these people similarly, you will be able to get what you or your director needs politely, professionally, and without creating ill feelings.

Keep your hands to yourself

Keep them close to you. Don't reach out to anyone and everyone... you never know what someone will put into them! Remember in grade school? There was always a kid who would run to you, thrust something distasteful into your open hands, and yell, "No back-sies!" Today that annoying kid is an office bully and they want you to do their work. Do not accept that. Keep your hands on your keyboard or pen and paper, and only turn your head to face the person instead of your entire body, then respond to their requests.

Personally, I do this only when I am extremely pressed for time and then, only when dealing with certain coworkers. (Hey, I were the boss and my assistant acted this way, I would find that behavior unacceptable for sure!)

Be inspired

It may sound hokey, but it actually works. If you inspire yourself, you gain personal power and therefore command respect automatically. To that end, do things you enjoy more often. I enjoy art and craft projects and writing in my off hours. Doing activities you love, like coloring, will help you feel more positive and creative, which translates to increased happiness in general.

This in turn brings more contentment in the workplace and greater ease in thinking on your feet, which coworkers like because they don’t waste time hanging around waiting for an answer. They respect that. More respect translates into better communication with senior staff and ultimately, upper management.

Overestimate others

If you overestimate someone just enough so they can show off a little, everyone wins. Of course, the goal must be attainable; otherwise, behaving in that manner would just be malicious.

List examples

When making a point, cite examples. For examples, please see the tricks described above!

What's the best administrative magic trick?

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    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Maralexa, thanks so much! But I'm actually not a manager... well, not yet. :) These are just tips that I've amassed from working with all types of people, and that I use on a daily basis.

      Thanks again! You totally made my day! :)

    • Maralexa profile image

      Marilyn Alexander 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

      This is excellent!!! I KNOW you are an accomplished manager and have brought out the best in your team! What you offer here are some of the best tips (simply stated -- with great examples) that I have read. Smart, caring people at any and all levels of an organization can definitely benefit from these tips.

      This hub and your others in this group are really insightful.

      Up, awesome, useful and sharing.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, jainismus! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. :^)

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 4 years ago from Pune, India

      Great tips, thank you for sharing.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, Angela! Thank you for stopping by and yes, I agree. Most of this can also be applied to other positions. Workplaces would be so much more efficient without jibber-jabber and complaints. :^)

    • angela p profile image

      angela p 5 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      Loved this hub. So much useful information. I have never been in an administrative capacity but feel a lot of what you have said applies to other positions as well. I have always tried not to make friends at work and stayed away from all the gossip circles. I get along working with men so much better than women anyway. Women tend to cause too much drama for me in an office. They should read your hub!!

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, MM Lesley! Thanks for the votes and compliments, also for commenting. Great to see you! :^)

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I love the hub and love your tips!

      The title is clever too!

      Voting up

      Best wishes lesley

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      John, I just LOVE that idea about a mirror! Great tip. Thanks so much for adding that in and always great to see you. :^)

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Very helpful hub. I can't say that I've ever had this problem. Most people I know take to me right away, so I'm lucky!... Nevertheless, I know many of my co-workers who have a great deal of problems with management. You're right about the voice making a big difference on how one's perceived (I'm in a customer service related field); additionally, I keep a mirror at my desk to make sure I'm smiling when I'm speaking with patients.

      Take care

      John

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi, Jeannieinabottle! Thank you!

      If you're having a really rough day at the office, remember that when you go home you can recharge and become inspired again. That often gets me through the most challenging times.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      This is a great hub! I need to work on some of these skills myself. Sometimes work drives me absolutely insane! Thanks for sharing your advice and tricks! Voted up and useful.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks, Leni! I'm really glad I decided to hop some hubs today and found yours!!

    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 5 years ago from UK

      This is a really useful and interesting hub, voted up! I am certainly going to bookmark it and keep referring to it. The advice is perfect for the work environment. I, too, look forward to more articles from you. Welcome to hubpages.

      PS - I have just shared this on twitter & facebook...and with my hubpages followers.

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks so much, for your comments and compliments, and the welcome greeting! Those tips really are useful, but they are not always easy to follow. *sigh* A little sign can work wonders for reminding you what's important.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 5 years ago from Neverland

      I. Love. This. Hub! I haven't read something so useful and funny in a long while. First off I am going to make myself a sign with your sentence "By giving yourself the right not to be liked, you are trading that for being more respected." Yes! We don't all have to be best friends in an office in order to work well together. I try to get that point across to all the new people I train. We don't have to be friends, just be considerate. All your ideas are awesome and I look forward to reading more articles by you. Welcome to HubPages!

    • theclevercat profile image
      Author

      Rachel Vega 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks, BB! Yup, these tricks are equally at home in other situations, too.

    • Brainy Bunny profile image

      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      I like the tips here, but it's been a long time since I've done office admin work. I bet I could use some of these in my interactions with vendors and clients; I certainly feel the fear enough!

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