From both sides now
(suggestions on what to do and what to don't...)

Burbank, California; March,2003;
Joan Marques, MBA, Doctoral Student

You know, there are many things we take for granted or accept as obvious on our way through the workday. Yet, some of the simplest seeming things can have great, fresh impact on our future behavior once we get confronted with them explicitly. Although there is really little new under the sun once you've matured to a certain age, a refreshing dose of these old, dusty issues may cause miraculous changes in your approach toward everyday tasks.

Here are some daily "to-dos" and "to-don'ts" that you might want to give some renewed consideration to, although you may have known them all along:

1. a.) First impressions are important. However, DON'T judge anyone on an initial encounter. Instead, consider the fact that we all have a bad hair day when we could least use it. Therefore, try to understand, and give people a second chance. You may need one yourself someday!

b.) On the other side: BECAUSE you know how important first impressions are, DO make an effort to look optimal at every occasion, even if you don't intend to meet anyone special. You never know when opportunity knocks, but you want to look right when the moment is there, isn't it?

2. a.) DON'T talk too much about yourself and your life during a first encounter. Especially not when the person on the other side of the table is a recruiter, manager, or HR representative. Too much talking from your side may give the impression that you are trying to hide something important by flooding the other with information you feel safe about. Instead, provide appropriate facts in simple, concise wording.

b.) DO try, on the other hand, to understand that some people will talk too much at a first encounter as a result of nervousness. So, if you are at the influential side of the table (recruiter, manager, HR-representative), try to distinguish whether the flood of words is caused by appropriate tenseness or inappropriate overconfidence, and base your decision on that.

3. a.) DON'T give up on something you really want: Definitely not after the first disappointment. Disappointments are mere ways to strengthen you and to test your level of determination. So, persevere! For that's the only way you will reach your goals. The only suitable warning here may be that perseverance is the flipside of stubbornness. And, depending on the purpose of your action, it will be perceived as a virtue or a vice.

b.) On the other hand: DO quit if what you want is not what you need. And even though it may be hard to make that decision, your intuition will guide you. Remember, anything that does not enhance the relationship you have with yourself is not even worth chasing. Too often we run behind a possession or person we desire in spite of the bad feelings this object or person brings us. And it's only after years of emotional torture that we realize the damage we have done to ourselves. Quitting is therefore not per definition synonymous with failure. Sometimes it may represent victory!

4. a.) DON'T underestimate your existing qualities. You can do much more than you think if you just believe in yourself. Especially when starting a new job you may find yourself wondering if you can do this, or if it should be better to just hit the road before making a complete fool of yourself. That's the devil of insecurity talking to you. It happens to all of us, and it's understandable. Realize that human beings are miraculous creatures with abilities that stretch far beyond their own expectations. Boundaries are just mirages of our minds. The most cunning salesperson, acrobat, or artist, once started as a lay-person with the same doubts and fears you may experience now.

b.) On the other hand, DO work on the enhancement of your qualities continuously. You can do that through courses or through self-learning. The Internet is a wonderful source of knowledge on practically every topic. Use it. And know too that there is always more to know. No one has ultimate knowledge on anything. Neither do you.

5. a.) DON'T beat yourself up for mistakes you made. Mistakes are sometimes necessary as a learning practice on our way to become better at certain actions.

b.) On the other hand, DO try to learn from your mistakes. They may have been made for a reason, but they are not worth anything if you keep making them over and over again. Besides, we should never make the same mistake twice, for the choice is big enough.

This list of randomly picked to-do's and to-don'ts, perceived from both sides, can be easily completed with your own experiences. Reflect on them and - if you think it's worth your while - jot them down. They may help you to reformulate your priorities, and enhance your understanding of others. Also, keep in mind that every coin has two sides. You should therefore try to look at every occurrence from the receiving as well as the conveying side. Empathy is a great virtue toward your outlook on life... from both sides now.