6 Rules to Break at Work

If you’ve read my posts, you know that I’ve always had trouble following the rules, especially rules in the workplace. I discovered in some recent reading that many workplace experts agree with me. Wow, I never thought that would happen! So here are some rules I suggest you break:

 1.      Don’t say “I don’t know” or “I made a mistake.” – We learn early on at work that it isn’t viewed positively if you admit you don’t have the answer. But the problem with faking it is that invariably it will catch up with you later. So own up to it and say you’ll research the issue until you have an answer.

Confessing that you made a mistake is also really risky. As we all know, blame has to be assigned somewhere. Step up and admit you made a bad call. Do what you can to make it right and learn from it.

 2.      Don’t go out on a limb at work – Tell me if this has happened to you. You and your colleagues go into a meeting where you can tell your boss about an issue that’s causing you all problems. Your buddies promise they’ll back you up. What happens? You broach the subject and your silent workmates look contrite while you balance out there on that limb – alone.

Don’t let that stop you from stepping up and speaking your mind. You kept your word and followed    through which is brave and honorable.

 3.      You always have to work towards that promotion – No you don’t. If you do your job well, are happy where you are, that should be sufficient. Aren’t there enough VPs in the work world? (See: When to Turn Down a Promotion)

 4.      Don’t mention the elephant in the living room – My early clinical training in substance abuse treatment taught me when confronting someone’s addiction, you stop ignoring “the elephant in the living room.” Conflict, inappropriate behavior, emotional distress, etc. are all topics we’re taught to avoid at work. But to not address them is to perpetuate an unhealthy, dysfunctional environment.

 5.      Leave your creative side at home – Unless you’re in an industry where you’re paid to be creative, most workplaces are suspicious of too much inventive, creative stuff. There are procedures, guidelines and protocols that must be followed. Unfortunately, by not being allowed to think creatively, you’re missing out on some innovative, alternative ideas and/or solutions.

 6.      You must be reachable 24/7 by coworkers and bosses – Why? When I started working in mental health, a psychiatrist whom I respected said, “There aren’t any psychiatric emergencies.” He didn’t mean to minimize someone being in terrible distress or that they didn’t need help, just that it usually wasn’t an immediate emergency. That has given me useful perspective about what constitutes something so urgent that a coworker or boss HAS to reach me on a weekend or day off.

So, go break some of those unspoken rules at work. I dare you! Tell me about your own rule-breaking!

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