Rule No. 1: Nobody is perfect
Nobody is perfect. You are not and your clients are not. Your team members and colleagues are not. The boss and senior management are not. The receptionist is not, the secretary is not, and neither that guy in accounting who has not yet come back on a request. The busdriver on the way to work who closed the door on you is not perfect. The woman in the elevator who stepped on your foot this morning did probably not do so on purpose. Even your parents, siblings and kids are not perfect, and your partner has probably turned out to be human as well, after those first weeks of absolute bliss.
Fact is: Sometimes you make mistakes. Because you do not concentrate or because you do not know better. So do others. When you remind yourself that each of us makes an occasional error, it means that you can be forgiving. Shit sometimes happens. To you. To others. To all of us. So relax. Chill. Let it go. Stop judging. And now start concentrating on what you can contribute to correct what went wrong and to prevent it from happening again. You will feel good about it.
Rule No. 2: It is not the others who are to blame
Are you annoyed with someone? Irritated about something? Everybody in the office gets onto your nerves today? Is it one of these days when nothing seems to run smoothly? Before you lash out at your colleague, before you shout at your assistant or loose your temper in the meeting, before you send out the angry lines you drafted in reply to the stupid e-mail you received this morning: Stop. Breathe. Check again.
The bitter truth is: In a vast majority of cases, when everything bugs you and you are totally wound up, it is not the others, it is you. Your attitude. Your mindset. Your perception.
Of course, it is much easier to blame everybody else. It is much easier to ask others to change, than to change yourself.
When you feel tempted to sulk, curse, shout, sabotage or seek revenge, remember that if you act out on your emotions it does not alter anything. Remind yourself that, even it you are at the top of the pack, you lack the power to change others. You can change processes, procedures, perceptions. You cannot change people. With one exception, and that is yourself.
It takes courage to risk an honest look at yourself and to become aware of which triggers can set you off. It takes even more courage and a lot of effort to gain control over your hot buttons. It can seem a quick release to instead snap at your subordinates and to silently blame senior management. It is much better though, to be a model of emotional self-management. Someone who has the guts to reach out to others in a constructive and open manner, so that they will listen to what you have to say. They may be ready to cooperate with you and to perhaps find a solution to what rightfully bothers you.
Rule No. 3: It is a give and take
Beware of confusing ambition and competition, with ruthlessness. When you'd sell your own grandmother to get the next promotion and stop at nothing to close a deal, beware of the effect it has on those around you. If you mostly think of yourself and your career, if you act purely on what you need and what you could gain, it is very likely that at some point in your career, you find that you are a very lonesome figure and that nobody has your back. Nobody likes parasites, nobody likes to be used, and nobody likes to be taken advantage of. So remember to always look out for your colleagues as well. Ask yourself how your decision will impact their careers and their work situation, and whether there can be a better alternative. When you network, do not only connect with people who may be door openers for you, but also with those who need mentoring by you. Lend a helping hand or a piece of advise from time to time without expecting anything in return. Offer your assistance. Give praise. Ask if anybody else wants a coffee. Ask how their weekend was. Show genuine interest. Listen. Support. Scratch their backs. Many studies have shown that when we give to others, not only do we gain their trust, gratitude and respect.. We also feel genuinely happy.
Rule No. 4: Take full responsibility for yourself
You have a job, so probably you are an adult. This means that you can care for yourself. Actually, it means that it is your duty and must be your priority to take care of yourself. Clearly, unless you are still in your teenage years, it is not the responsibility of others to ensure your wellbeing. Again: You are in charge of yourself. Nobody else is. As an adult, you are responsible for your emotional welfare and health. You are responsible for the feelings you have and for handling them in a reliable way. The last time it was ok for you to throw a trantrum you were three years old.
You are also responsible for your physical well-being. It means that it is your job to ensure that you eat, drink, exercise, rest and sleep enough, to manage your stress levels, speak up for yourself when necessary and set boundaries to yourself and others. Take this job seriously. Do not complain if you do not. But also do not forget that being a self-reliant and responsible grown-up and acting like one includes knowing when to ask others to come to your aid.
Rule No. 5: Don't bitch about
Sometimes, all of us have to blow off some steam, and yes, a certain degree of superficial gossip is probably just part of all human social interaction.
But before you bluntly share how you feel about a client over lunch, complain about the idiot next door to senior management, or pass on the latest rumours in confidence, remind yourself that there are very fine lines not to cross. What you consider innocent chit-chat can easily turn into serious bullying or mobbing. Rumours more often than not are false and, upon being spread, may result in severe damage to the company and hurt those who are their subject. Your accusations about someone, if found baseless, may backfire. And those who like to bitch about others with you may very well be the ones who gabber about you in your abscence.
When we talk badly about others and tell about their weaknesses behind their back, it reflects on ourselves and showcases a lack of integrity. You do not want to be the victim of bad-mouthing and dishonesty yourself. So do not start intrigues and refrain from having a part in them. Make it your habit to talk about others positively. Else, stay quiet. And when you are faced with issues or conflicts, bring them out into the open and then solve what needs to be solved. Do so with those concerned in a fair manner.
Rule No. 6: Show some manners
It is the small things that make such a big difference. Brighten up our coexistence by showing some manners. Be a good example and advertise that you had a good upbringing. Ask nicely. Say thank you. Say it again. Say good morning when you come in and wish a good evening when you leave at night. Smile. Smile more often. Open a door. Ask if anybody minds. Restock paper when the printer has run out. Clean up after yourself in the cafeteria. Do not leave a mess. Always be polite and considerate.
Rule No. 7: Walk the talk
Be a role model and lead by example. Do so always and without exception. Keep your promises. Do not tolerate double standards. Do not accept when special rules are applied to the benefit of a select few. Do not claim unofficial privileges for yourself. If you want to be taken seriously, do not feast on cake and expect your staff and clients to eat bread crumbs. Treat everyone with the same degree of fundamental respect, regardless of whether they are a key client, the CEO, a team colleague, the office cleaning lady, or the homeless guy down at the street corner.
Rule No. 8: The universal golden one
In a nutshell, remember the universal golden rule: "Do onto others what you would have done onto you."
Or as the German philosopher Immanuel Kant put it: "Always act according to a maxim which can be adopted as a universal law."
Further, remember the old saying: "What comes around, goes around." Last not least, be reminded of the other one which goes: "Birds of a feather flock together." Hence, whenever you think you are surrounded by lots of jerks, there is a good chance that you are a full- or parttime jerk yourself. At which point it may be high time to reimplement the above rules. You may be in for a surprise.