By Katie Neumann, UW Oshkosh journalism alumna
I’m basically a professional at being yelled at. I’ve worked at Disney World, where daily people told me I ruined their lives, spit on me and shoved me. I remember vividly the first time it happened – it was about two hours into my first day of training, and I ended up having to go behind closed doors to cope. Life isn’t always that intense, but since then, I’ve learned a lot about dealing with situations like those, at work, in the field and generally in life.
Own your mistakes
Until the day you retire, you will be making mistakes and disappointing your bosses or coworkers. Messing up means you are trying and learning, and while that doesn’t mean your colleagues will always forgive you, it means you should forgive you.
Explain only when necessary and present solutions
If someone approaches you about something you messed up, offer an explanation (and a succinct one, at that), not an excuse. Any time you drop the ball, figure out how to fix it (or options for moving forward) before going to your boss or colleagues. Present a solution, not a problem. The people that come with solutions are the ones who go places.
You are a mirror
The most important thing I’ve learned at my big kid job is people will look to you to figure out how they should feel or react. If you need to go to your boss with something you messed up, be calm and confident, not frazzled and on the verge of tears. Fake it ‘til you make it.
You are not a publicist
Your job is not to make people happy. Your job is to write accurate and newsworthy stories. If a source or a reader doesn’t like a story, but you didn’t get information maliciously and it is factual, you have nothing to be sorry for. Realize by the very nature of going into this field, some people won’t like you. A lot of people won’t like you. Accept it. Own it. And move on.
Apologize like (and when) you mean it
Apologies will get you very, very far in life, but only when they’re genuine. Admit you were wrong and explain how you’ll work to make sure it won’t happen again. In some situations, you may feel you have nothing to apologize for. I don’t think people should be quick to apologize simply because someone is asking them to. If you are willing to risk a personal or professional relationship that is at stake, I think it’s acceptable to stand by your decisions and respectfully say you don’t feel like you have anything to apologize for. You don’t owe anyone anything.
You are strong. Really strong.
You have survived everything that life has thrown at you up to this point (including all of those group projects). The world has conditioned us to think in the years before and after you graduate, you’re lucky to get a job, and that’s not untrue, but in that frenzy, it’s easy to forget how much you’re worth. You’re smart and valuable, and yes have a lot to learn, but everyone does. There’s always something to be learned. Remind yourself from time to time how hard you’ve worked to be here, and how strong you’ve become because of it.
If someone is upset with you, more often than not, it is a reflection of them, not of you. You can’t choose who calls you a life-ruiner, spits on you, or shoves you, but you can choose which police reports to file. Spend your life with people who make you happy, not filing police reports. Paperwork is such a downer.