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Workplace Survival: 12 Rules To Protect Yourself

Jeff Linamen

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I finally broke down this morning and filed for unemployment. It’s been three months since I was notified that my contract would not be renewed and I had hoped I would have secured a new job by now. I have some good prospects but for now, the search goes on.

I promised in an earlier blog to talk a little bit about what led up to my release. I’ve waited until now because I didn’t want my words to be fueled by hurt or anger. I finally decided I would rather do it in a positive way and give some advice that might help others who find themselves in similar situations.

Here are my 12 suggestions that might help you survive in the workplace:

Rule #1 Don’t be too good at your job or know too much.

Rule #2 When a superior says, “Don’t Worry” — watch out.

Rule #3 Climbers don’t look down. They don’t have time for you.

Rule #4 Open Door policies can get one slammed in your face.

Rule #5 Keep records and be able to account for everything.

Rule #6 Never feel that your job is secure.

Rule #7 Change isn’t always good but don’t fight it.

Rule #8 Learn to deal with incompetence.

Rule #9 Don’t expect to be treated fairly. Even good people behave badly.

Rule #10 Right doesn’t always win.

Rule #11 Don’t expect rewards for loyalty.

Rule #12 Rules (and policies) are made to be broken (and will be).

Bonus– Rule #13 Work to live, don’t live to work.

Holding a job and being successful at it, isn’t about showing up on time and doing what is expected of you. It’s not about your education or knowledge and expertise. It’s not about your dedication or going the extra mile. Those are all givens. To be successful, you have to be constantly aware of two things: company politics and money. You have to keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground if you want stay aware of what’s really going on behind the scenes.

You, as an employee, are expendable. Simple as that. What makes you important is how you fit into the political and social climate of the workplace and what impact you have on the bottom line.

— I’ll address and explain this set of rules, my experiences and their importance in future blog posts.

Today I do want to explore my Bonus Rule– and I know you’ve heard it before:


It sounds simple enough and yet it is probably the hardest rule to follow. I have always struggled with this, even with jobs that weren’t necessarily in my main field of interest. It is too easy for many of us, to become so vested in our jobs that it’s hard to let it go when we punch out at the end of the day. Unless you own your own business– and even then, you have prioritize what is really important– living a good life and hopefully, sharing it with other people.

Why do we work? To pay bills, provide for families, plan for the future… to live.

Remember that the business doesn’t care about you. Unfortunately, in many cases, neither do employers. You may think they do– but if you step back and look at it clearly, you’ll realize you are there to perform a specific function. You are only one small ingredient in the recipe of success. Being responsible and taking ownership in your job is a wonderful thing. You have to learn to set limits. This is especially difficult when you are doing something you love. When work becomes the only thing, it’s probably time to move on.

I personally have lost years of friendships, family gathering and missed opportunities to experience and enjoy life– either from the necessities of the jobs I’ve held, or by my own drive. You can’t buy back that time.

You may find it necessary to put work first— but at what cost?

That is the most important question.

1 Comment

  1. tara says:

    Jeff this is so right on! Funny that I was thinking of you today, wondering about your employment opportunities. It is just a job. Life, and how we live it, is what is important!


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