Jessica’s Rules for Work

by Jessica Breiman

It has been a long week at work and thus I have failed at posting to Innovation Action Update like I was supposed to! I wrote a draft of a long post about homeless populations and libraries, but never quite finished it up (you know how that goes, right?). So here are a few thoughts for your Friday afternoon, catalyzed by my week at work, and some conversations with colleagues.  They are Jessica’s Rules for Work and are based entirely on my own strengths and weaknesses, which may not be your strengths and weaknesses, but nevertheless may get you thinking about the topic.

  1. Be kind. It is just as easy to be kind as to not be kind, so even if you are annoyed, frustrated, and pissed off (and even if you have every right to be), still be kind.
  2. Do take a deep breath but don’t take it personally. By which I mean, when I feel put upon or pissed off about a situation at work, I hereby instruct myself to take a deep breath and remind myself that work is not me. What happens at work does not define me, so I shouldn’t take it personally when things don’t go my way.
  3. Be honest. This does not mean brutally honest (a phrase which has never made sense to me), but be honest with colleagues, supervisors, employees, and patrons. Will my supervisor get this project from me in its best form at 8am on Monday? If not, then instead of promising it to them, I should say, “I can have a draft ready for you Monday. If I have a few more days, the project will be in better shape when it reaches you.”
  4. Do not expect honesty. By which I mean, people often spread themselves too thin and overpromise. If someone guarantees that they will have something to me by Monday and I don’t have it by Monday, I can throw a fit and be pissed at the person for not telling me the truth, or I can say, “Look, I know you have a lot on your plate. I have to your part of this project by X date. If I can’t get it by then, I will need to ask someone else to provide it for me. Can you get it to me or do you have too much on your plate right now?” That said, sometimes people are not honest for a variety of reasons, some political, some emotional, some other miscellaneous. Do not expect too much of people.
  5. Keep your mouth shut. If you’re feeling whiny or put upon or unfairly treated, it is best to lay those troubles on folks outside of work. It’s better if your coworkers and supervisors don’t know what you look like when you’re pitching a snit fit.
  6. What is told to me stays with me.
  7. Give and get help. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” and the corollary to that is not to be afraid to say “I don’t know. Can you help me?”
  8. Ask for what you want and be assertive. But also be prepared with evidence and documentation that you need what you need.
  9. The corollary of #8 is: don’t get attached to outcomes.
  10. Volunteer for stuff. Nobody has time for these committees. I certainly don’t and you probably don’t either. But you know what? Sometimes you get to meet cool folks and learn something new. Sometimes the work is deadly boring, but at least I can socialize with others outside of my department, which can lead to other fruitful collaborations.
  11. Sometimes stuff just doesn’t go your way. Go have a glass of wine and hang out with your fluffy puppy. Lou2

To the extent possible under law, Creative Libraries Utah has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Jessica’s Rules for Work.

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