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5 Tips For Surviving In Corporate America

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Let’s face it. It’s not easy surviving in corporate America. Regardless of whether it’s your first professional position working for a corporation or the fourth, the same rules apply.

As you know, there are always lessons to you can learn for a better experience working in corporate America.

Surviving In Corporate America

In this article, we have some excellent tips to maximize your experiences for the corporate beast. Based on experience, you’ll discover there are things you can do to survive and prosper in corporate America.

Now bear this in mind, it doesn’t have to be a huge company either – if your company has 6 employees or 600, the rules of the game are the same! 

Each one of us has a different back-story of work history. Some decide to stay home and work raising children and tending to their families. In contrast, others choose to put the parenting on the back-burner and commit to achieving their degrees and develop a strong foothold in their professional careers.

Whichever way you choose, eventually, you will have to deal with the rules of the corporate shuffle. More so, that’s where things get tough. Some lessons were we learn the hard way, while others made through observations. But either way, some personal mistakes we make can be job threatening, and that’s aside from the professional ones. 

My back-story: Before meeting my husband, I had only completed one year of college and left school to marry and start a family.  Twenty or so years later, I knew I needed a new direction. I had yearned for a higher education degree all of my life and knew I had to listen to that calling. I enrolled in college and completed both my undergraduate and graduate degrees.  

Shortly after, I landed my first corporate position almost directly after the completion of my degrees. At that point, I went into a new and exciting chapter of my life. You can read more about my background here.

Below, you’ll find 5 ways you too can prosper and grow while working in corporate America.

1 – Keep Your Personal Information Personal

We all want to feel like we belong, and developing allies at work is essential for fruitful teamwork. But, but there is a vast difference between making secure connections with your peers and crossing the line into confessing your woes to co-workers.

More importantly, it would be best if you never talked about the details of your personal life at work. Even if a co-worker starts confiding in you and starts sharing too much information, resist the temptation to reciprocate. Everything you say can and will come back against you, especially in times of a crisis.

A co-worker will quickly jump on an opportunity of telling your boss that your finances are a mess, or that you and your hubby are having marital issues. You run the risk having that information shared company-wide as well. Simply stated, it’s best to keep your personal life out of your professional one. 

Corporate America

2 – The Nature Of Gossip In Corporate America

Overall, we all know gossiping is inevitable in our personal and professional lives. Interestingly, why do we keep engaging in it when we all see the negative impact it produces? Gossiping is natural to our human nature, but we evolve, and habits change.

Fortunately, you don’t have to participate in gossip in corporate America or anywhere! Remember this; if they talk about them, they will talk about you too!

At work, gossip is especially deadly. Gossiping will break down the social support at work you worked so hard to achieve. When faced with it, I found that staying silent and nodding works exceptionally well. I also quickly bail out of the conversation with an “Oh, darn, I forgot I have to return a call,” trick.

Do anything you can not to get actively involved in it. In our personal lives, gossiping can often be harmless and even good for a few laughs, but in our professional experiences, you have to ask yourself, is it worth losing your job over?

Corporate America

3 – If You Wear It, They Will Talk About It. 

Professional attire should always remain professional. Regardless of what you wear, I can guarantee someone will comment on it. Always be mindful of what you are wearing when you step out the door to work, of course, but also remember that even when you are wearing a very professional outfit, someone will talk about it.

There are certain things at work you will have to put your ego aside and not let upset you, and this is one of them. More so, if you know you look professionally dressed, don’t sweat the small stuff. Additionally, this relates to the gossipy nature of folks, so don’t participate in it and move on.

Corporate America

4 – No One Likes A Complainer: Think it but don’t say – that was my survival mantra for work. Whether I didn’t feel great or had a huge amount of work to catch up on, I hardly ever complained to anyone. This goes for trusted coworkers as well. Cynical you say? Well, yes maybe, but if you want to survive at work it should be your mantra too.

The working environment is dog-eat-dog no doubt and you, unfortunately,  have to be on the defensive at all times. I can remember the one time I complained openly about a project deadline at work and later that day my manager called me and asked if I had any concerns I would like to discuss regarding the project.

Yes, negativity can spread that quickly at work. Coworkers think for some odd reason that putting you in a negative light will help boost their short road to success. 

4 – No One Likes A Complainer

When I worked in corporate America, I knew it was OK to think about it and not say it. That’s how I got by successfully every day, and you can do it too.

I made a point to complain to anyone, even my closest co-workers. Also, try not to trust too many coworkers. Cynical, you say? Well, yes, maybe, but if you want to survive at work, it should be your mantra too.

The working environment in corporate America can feel tough at times. And unfortunately,  it’s a good idea to remain calm and collected. I can remember the one time I complained openly about a project deadline at work.

Later that day, my manager called me and asked if I had any concerns I wanted to discuss regarding the project. Complaining doesn’t pay and spreads like wildfire!

Bottom line, try your best not to complain at work. Corporate America standards can feel strict, but it’s for a good reason. Image a work environment with everyone sharing emotions and feelings all day. I know I wouldn’t want to work there.

5 – Bring Your Lunch But Not Your Ego

Your ego has no place at work. I know that sounds impossibly difficult, but corporations don’t like egos – they want worker bees. Remember, you are a part of the collective, much like the Borg in Star Trek. Your ego has no place there. More so, this is another example of “think it doesn’t say it.”

More importantly, if something hurts your feelings, don’t express it. Feelings and work don’t make a good cocktail. Sharing feelings is for home and friends. Wait to share them with your family and friends – not your coworkers. The same goes for boasting.

Also, make a point not to boast about the compliments from your managers. Your coworkers will indeed become resentful, and there go the allies you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Corporate America

In conclusion, I hope you were able to glean some important tips about working in corporate America. We can all learn lessons about improving our work environments and sharing these tips with our coworkers as well.

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36 Comments

  1. Great advice, Carolann. The smarter you are, the less you say. Be an enigma. Let them wonder, if they find the need. Better be safe than sorry. Happy Monday! Have a great week!

  2. I’ll be honest–I worked in corporate America from ’01 up until about three years ago when I took a huge leap of faith to work from home doing social media/marketing for small business owners. That said, I just got burned out from working in a corporate environment. There was too much cattiness and politics… BUT I have maintained most of those great friendships (and even had brunch with my old friends this weekend). It’s important to establish good friendships in the work place, I think. It was the saving grace I needed on days when I didn’t want to get out of bed or deal with the commute.

    And YES re: complaining at work. That’s what happy hours are for, LOL. XOXO

  3. All these are so true and have happened at one time or another. The worst for me was “the complainer” – sometimes whiner.

  4. Hi Charlotte, Yes, there is so much cattiness going on for sure. I used to work at home at one point too and I really enjoyed that the best. It is important to maintain friendships from work for sure, but also be careful to protect yourself because there are so many folks out there waiting to get you off guard. I’m glad you got the opportunity to keep good friends for sure! LOL and yes complaining is for happy hour indeed! Thanks much for stopping by to share your insight!! Have a great week. xo

  5. Thanks much Kelly! Well said. The less you say and be an enigma for sure! I never like to red flag myself at work. Thanks much for stopping by and sharing your insight! Have a great week too! xo

  6. After my baby was born I went from full time to half day. I got as much, if not more done in the same period simply by putting my head down and not getting caught up in office chat.

  7. These are great tips, I wish I read them before I entered corporate America all those years ago. I learned quickly to grow a thick skin and not take anything personal.
    I am so glad to have one foot out of corporate America at this point and I cannot wait to get the other foot out.

  8. Carolann – this is a wonderful post and something that has helped me to refocus about work. I work in a section with 8 other women and the advice you give is excellent. The section dynamics are always interesting and although I like them all it sometimes feel like I have to watch my back. Your suggestions are something I will need to keep foremost in my mind.

  9. 25-year corporate veteran here and all the tips are TRUE. I wold add don’t take things personally – people will dissect your ideas and sometimes put them back together in a way that doesn’t make sense, people are critiquing the work not you as a person – learn to separate the two – for your own sanity!

  10. Great post – and one that makes me realize I could never go back to working in corporate America! This brought back too many memories!

  11. Hi Ines, I’m glad to hear that this helped you to refocus. I have had to learn those hard lessons and loved sharing them with you all. I appreciate your lovely comment – it made my day!

  12. Great post & tips…Geez I hate Corporate America! Its appears it’s all their way or the highway!

  13. It’s always been the same, yes, them big eyes are looking at you so better do your job well. And you are welcome to leave if you cannot take the inside culture anymore. There will always be office politics, stern rules, and all-knowing people. However, all the same, it helps to keep your cool and carefully stand up for your principles and that no matter which department you are, doing the right thing is the only thing to do. Live without fuss and you’ll survive just fine.

  14. Hi Judy, I agree completely! I always say, never red flag yourself, it’s the best way to get by at work. I never minded the work it was dealing with all the personalities that were challenging for sure. Thanks much for stopping by. Have a great week!

  15. Sassy

    You are absolutely spot on about your image. Think it and do not say it.

    Being on time, professional attire and a can do attitude are all great qualities.

  16. Good tips, but I disagree in part on the ego statement. If all you are is a worker bee, then that is all you will ever be. A certain amount of ego is necessary to show you aren’t just a worker bee and you strive for a better position and more responsibilities.

  17. Hi Scott, thanks much for your insightful comment! I guess I should have clarified my thoughts about ego – I was directing that towards our bruised egos which happens quite frequently at work, and not at all about the ego that drives us and is responsible for our success. I agree totally! You must have a strong ego intact to thrive in the workplace for sure. Thanks much for helping clarify that point. Hope to see you again soon! Have a great week.

  18. As a read the article I was very much brought back to how important it is to cherish employees. All of these things that we should do as well as to avoid can be prevented if you are humble and treat an employee as your peer instead. Thanks for the great article on having a better outlook in a company. http://www.rjacksonqld.com.au

  19. Hi Ava, wow you said it perfectly. So many times, I’ve been treated like an underling at work even in my role as Manager. I wish I had a boss that thought like you. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Hope to see you again soon. Have a wonderful weekend!

  20. Great post. I would like to say that people go to extra heights just to fit in. The problem is you do not get to be yourself and one day people realize who truly are and again it is a problem. I think the best way is being yourself let people like you for who you are and something you are not. Keyword – Be Yourself

  21. I agree! It’s so very important to just be yourself at work, but also important to protect yourself against those that are out to get you. And yes, there are loads of folks like that at work which is sad but true. Thanks much for stopping by and have a great week!

  22. Great post and the points you suggest really great for surviving in corporate america.Especially the point about ego.”Your ego has no place at work.corporations don’t like egos – they like worker bees”.

  23. Thanks Carolanne for posting this.
    This is a head up. It will surely help.
    I really appreciate this.

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