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How To Succeed At The Workplace

Updated on August 1, 2016
Dan W Miller profile image

Dan was raised in Ventura County, California. He is a USN veteran, divorced with grandkids, living in Phoenix since 2000.

Don't be the loud one. Don't dress for your pals. Dress "older." "grown up." Be willing to do more than what's expected.
Don't be the loud one. Don't dress for your pals. Dress "older." "grown up." Be willing to do more than what's expected. | Source
Easy on the extreme... everything
Easy on the extreme... everything

Part I

Don't get excited, watch your words, get to know the right people quickly.

People forget (or are not experienced enough to know) that you are part of A TEAM at work. You're all working for yourself, that's true. BUT you all work for the company you belong to. If you're a snitch, assuming of people, smug or rude and vying for a supervisor position remember this... the supervisors were once in your shoes too.

You might even make it up the ladder but if no one has respect for you, those under you won't go the extra mile for you. (note: I supervised up to 100 people annually as a clinical coordinator and certified state instructor for a Los Angeles medical technical school.) I know from being part of VERY competitive sports teams how the concept works.

I've also noticed those that have never experienced being a part of A REAL TEAM don't really know how it's accomplished. {example:} Our Navy softball team traveled to tournaments. THAT was FUN! Better than actually working.

Our catcher, Greg "G Man" would be the first to tell you, HE WAS TERRIBLE. But in softball, catcher has a very minor role. Because "G" was so much fun, tried so hard and was a TEAM PLAYER we kept him.

As part of a team, JUST LIKE AT WORK, you spend A LOT OF TIME TOGETHER much like a family. SO YOU'D BETTER GET ALONG AND TRUST ONE ANOTHER. I told the team, "Mark my words, someday G Man is gonna win a game for us." Meanwhile, he'd drop throws, hardly ever got a hit but we all liked him and he was trying so hard and soon showed some improvement.

SURE ENOUGH, one game came down to the tying and winning run racing home to possibly end the game as I threw the ball (right on the money!) from deep left field and (OH NO!) G MAN was ready. But instead of muffing the throw (again,) G MAN CAUGHT IT, TAGGED THE RUNNERS OUT just as he nearly got knocked out cold in the collision! Game over!

The bottom line is, EVERYONE is on this team. Make work a pleasant atmosphere and pull together, not divide. The GOOD GUYS - THE TEAM PLAYERS - will win.

Do the job right the first time
Do the job right the first time
If work is getting too stressful, step back from it and ask why or WHAT IS IT that's the cause of the stress. Tell your boss. If he or she is not made aware of your job stress, they might just keep right on piling more work onto the heap.
If work is getting too stressful, step back from it and ask why or WHAT IS IT that's the cause of the stress. Tell your boss. If he or she is not made aware of your job stress, they might just keep right on piling more work onto the heap.

Part II

The first ten seconds on the phone with your client are critical

I'm no expert but... well, wait a minute. Yes, I AM an expert at answering phones (exclusively) as a job. Just all phone calls, all day and in a call center, no less. Listen up from a guy that is extremely sociably amiable on and off the phone.

Some people are just plain terrible in a business conversation situation. Then they want to get on the phone and talk to people that are ready to do business. My advice is to not even start something you’re doomed to eventually fail at because I don’t want socially inept employees working for me or around me nor being associated with them in any way.

You have to be there first

First of all, you have to BE there to answer the call correctly. BE ON TIME TO WORK! I don’t know how many companies I have called AT OPEN HOURS and no one is even there! No answer, no answering service. Potential clients, customers and positive revenue for your company are calling for YOUR business and they’ll just go call someone else that is available NOW. (Being on) time is money!

It’s not an unreasonable expectation to be answering that phone within normal business hours. “Oh, five minutes is not going to make a difference” some will scoff. Yes, it DOES matter. If hours are posted at eight in the morning, well then I’m calling at 8:01. I don’t like to remind people of something so elementary. Other employees may even rely on you to be on time. I had a coworker that showed up late (literally) every day.

So I calculated a rough estimate of averaging five minutes late to work every day .Then I calculated the number of working days a year. If I received the first call of the day, every day, I calculated that I had worked AN ENTIRE DAY AND A HALF of extra work, over 200 more calls than her per year and yet we received the same pay.

By the way, DO NOT bring all this to the attention of your supervisors. They will be livid. I know because I did it and their terse advice was, basically, mind your own business. I looked at it as trying to help and pointing out the unfairness of the situation. They saw it differently.

The world is not your age

If it’s the first time I have contacted your organization, do you want my first impression to come from seemingly bored or insincere sounding employee that must hate their job? It sounds like you just cannot wait until this conversation is over before it even began. Announcing who you are and who you work for clearly and succinctly makes the caller believe you WANT to work for them.

Now do you see how important these first ten seconds are? You represent the company and first impressions are vital. It could make or break the entire conversation from here on in for that particular call. Treat each one as THE PERFECT CALL from beginning to end. Also, speaking with a smile on your face can even be “heard.” Yes, that’s right. Try it. Hard to explain but it is genuinely “felt” by the person on the other end of the call.

I called a business today. The employee who answered the phone stated the name of the company far too fast for any human being to even comprehend and I still have no idea what her name is.

To top it off, she was impolite, inconsiderate and socially inept when given some real workable advice that I suggested at the end of the call what she sounded like from THIS END of the phone. You know, from someone who is YOUR BUSINESS, YOUR INCOME, you just might want to listen, missy or mister. Because that person is your business and coincidentally just might know a thing or two about business phone sense and etiquette.

Act and sound like an adult on the phone

To continue, of course she immediately asked how she could help me. Because I am considerate of other people, I said, "Hello, and how are you today?" She answered, "FINEWHATCANIDOFORYOU?" without a pause and it sounded like, "Will you hurry up, mister! What the Hell do you want?" type of attitude that I easily sensed. How rude! I heard you the first time you asked what can you do for me, “punk.”

It’s called being considerate, polite and it’s good ol’ fashioned phone etiquette, right out of the Baby Boomer and the Greatest Generations. You’ll sound more “adult.” Trust me. How about try asking people how they are or how their day is going?

When answering those people that extend a polite greeting, try answering with, "Fine and thank you for asking" then pause. Might waste an entire three seconds. Please stop saying "sir" and "ma'am" all the time. When you’re looking someone in the face during a conversation do you say their name or sir or Ms. before and/or after each sentence? It just sounds condescending and phony at times to me.

Saying NO SALUTATION most times is just fine by the way or if you get their last name then address them as, "Mr. or Mrs. So And So" But don’t screw up their name because no one likes that. Doesn’t hurt to ask what is the correct pronunciation of their last name. Then say it back to them so you know it’s correct.

Here's the insider's advice so use it

Like I said, I'm no expert, maybe “experienced” but this is my 10th year with two different Fortune 500 companies as a national Customer Service Representative. So I just might know a thing or two on this subject.
I also have spoken to people from ALL OVER this country. All types of people, all accents, all levels of education and all differences in phone etiquette must be tolerated and even used to connect with people. Not just with the local “townies” or only in a certain region. The entire nation.

I speak to people who’s regional accent is so thick I cannot fully understand what exactly is being said to me. For some, if they have not ventured outside of their particular regional way of speaking English, they can’t understand why the whole world also doesn’t speak in their slang grammar. Join the 3/4 of the nation that can be understood 100% of the time, folks.

For the record, I come from a state that has a more universally understood way of speaking and from what many people have told me, has a reputation for having NO accent whatsoever - California. I’m sorry, but many folks in the deep south, the midwest, empire states (New York, New Jersey,) New England, “cowboy country,” need to join the English language speaking United States and lose your secret code way of pronouncing words incorrectly.

If you’re going to communicate properly at all with other people from most other parts of the country, be “accentless” as best you can. For some reason people in southern states speak extra loud, in my opinion. Not ALL Y’ALL but a pretty fair amount! I don’t know why so many more do (from what I have experienced) and I also notice they take a longer time getting to the point. (My city patience CAN wear thin at that point. I’ve got things to do.)

Now, New Yorkers (more often than folks from the rest of the nation) get RIGHT to the point and also want an answer RIGHT NOW.

Part III

Be Aware Of Your Accent

So everyone on both sides of the phone please be aware of your accent. Resist being like the rest of your small populace who speak in the regional ‘code’ and correct it right now! I’m just trying to help you here. It cannot be denied nor overlooked. Be ready for it and open to it.

Maybe I might sound a bit too “Southern California surfer” and on rare occasions call someone dude but people can at least understand I said the word “dude.” Even Californians know that “style” of speaking is almost nonexistent now. Hardly anyone speaks that retro ‘80’s local “Valley Girl” dialect anymore.

I spent nearly five minutes with this one guy from the deep south trying to understand ONE LETTER he was trying to tell me. It was “L.” He kept saying “AAAIYLE.” A? No. H? No. I? No. Oh, L as in Like I finally figured out. He repeated it back by saying to me, “Yays! Ayle. Lock in I LOCK to do sumpin’.” That’s how he sounded to me (and the entire world, too.)

So please enunciate words properly, be loud enough to be heard and speak clearly in “generic English” on the phone. Also, people of Great Britain, do us all a favor in the United States and please enunciate English language words as they were meant to be pronounced. After all, YOU INVENTED THE LANGUAGE.

Be very patient with a foreign accent

Maybe we in “The States” might be willing to watch more of your movies if we could understand your movie dialogues better instead of struggling through them and also trying to figure out all the slang names for common objects. Doesn’t help when many words are being mispronounced to boot!

An example is where I live now - Arizona. Where do you get that extra R at the end? - ARIZONER. This can also be applied to most Aussies, too. In fact, they just might even be harder to understand. Reading The Thorn Birds took a bit more time involved because of the way the author wrote it was the way the people actually speak in Australia.

One last bit of advice. When I answer my personal phone, I always answer with, “Hello.” When I call a business they immediately thank me for calling them and that’s fine. But where’s my ‘ hello’? So I always say, “HELLO and thank you for calling... “ It’s my personal touch that says I CARE.

Sometimes I've been the boss, most times not

The author Dan W. Miller became a real writer with his first published article, did stand-up comedy and produced live shows for the first time after the age of 50. Also another article I wrote "How I Talked My Way Into Another Job."
The author Dan W. Miller became a real writer with his first published article, did stand-up comedy and produced live shows for the first time after the age of 50. Also another article I wrote "How I Talked My Way Into Another Job."
Don't micro manage your employees. Give them room to breathe and don't get upset with them in public. It's humiliating to them.
Don't micro manage your employees. Give them room to breathe and don't get upset with them in public. It's humiliating to them. | Source

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