What work teaches us

ExecuTips - By Robert Labayen

Posted at Aug 14 2015 03:28 PM | Updated as of Aug 14 2015 11:28 PM

Photo by Johnny Delos Santos

A few times before I have been asked “how do you deal with difficult people in the office?”

I answer: “I teach myself to like them. I try to have fun conversations with them. If I cannot avoid them, I must like them. Otherwise, they will make my life miserable every day.”

Work teaches us patience, tolerance and many other character-shaping things. For example:

Loyalty. Even if we don't like our employer or our office mates, we cannot say bad things about them for as long as we're still with them.

Excellence. If we don’t do our best, we let our work mates down. We may even pull down the whole company. If loss of income is the result of our substandard work, the effect will be felt by our friends and their families.

Commitment. In the office, our word is gold. Many things may fall apart if we don’t fulfill what we promise to deliver, or if we give up halfway through the task.

Honesty. It can be very tempting to steal from the office. We can receive gifts from suppliers and vendors. We can overprice our purchases or pad our actual expenses for reimbursement. We may even cheat with our tax reports. It takes honor to resist easy money.

By the way, one of the things that’s tempting and easy to steal in the office is credit.

Humility. We can improve ourselves if we just accept that we can learn so much from the many people who are better than us at some things. We may be better than many people at some things and it's good to resist the temptation to feel superior.

Respect. It is almost predictable that employees will respect the boss. But some managers can be too harsh on their subordinates. Sometimes, we disregard their own concerns. I have also heard many stories about how the kindness of vendors and suppliers have been abused.

Good executives treat people with respect, regardless of rank.

Cooperation instead of competition. In many offices, executives compete for promotion or for power. The result is a turf war that affects even their respective departments. Competition at the top sends strong signals of corporate dysfunction.

A company with a united leadership always achieves more.

Interpersonal relationships. When we have issues with other people, it is our habit to tell other people about them, instead of talking to them directly. In my experience, conflicts were more decisively resolved through dialogue.

Sense of purpose. Work makes us dedicate ourselves to a noble mission of making lives a little better for some people.

To succeed at work, we need to make a lot of sacrifices. We must give less importance to our comforts and our pride for the sake of our team mates, our company and the people it serves.
After 30 years of working, I have realized that the unpleasant things in the office are just like sandpaper that will eventually smoothen and polish us.

A few years ago, when I was going through a trying period, my boss told me "don't run away from any problem. They're teaching you something. "

Work teaches us character.

Combine character with the skills we have acquired and talents we have developed over the years, I am convinced that the purpose of work is to make us become a better person.

Recently, we interviewed our company chairman about what he thinks of company values. He said “values are what you do when no one is looking. “


If you have concerns about your job or if you wish to suggest a topic, you may email me at [email protected]

I would assume that you’re giving me permission to publish your email (if chosen) and my reply. Your identity will not be disclosed.

Read more about ExecuTips on www.robertlabayen.com


About the Author:

Robert Labayen spent 22 years in advertising prior to joining ABS-CBN in 2004. He was VP-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Executive Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson, two of the country's leading ad agencies. He is currently the Head of Creative Communications Management at ABS-CBN. His job involves inspiring people to be their best. He is a writer, painter and songwriter.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.