Relationships

12 Great Reader Comments on Career

The Best Reader Comments on Career

When it comes to life advice, the conversations that happen in the comments section are always overflowing with wisdom. So, we’re happy to start regularly sharing our favorite reader quotes in various categories — from parenting to beauty to overcoming grief. To kick off the series, 12 readers share their smart career tips (including how to get that raise)…

On working hard:

“I had a teacher who always used to say, ‘No job too big, and no job too small.’ He meant that we should rise to the occasion when challenged to take on something that might seem beyond us, and that we should not feel too important to do basic tasks that keep things running. That way, you make yourself indispensable to your workplace. I swear I held onto my job in publishing through endless rounds of layoffs during the recession not just because I’m a good editor, but because I was the only person in the office who knew how to un-jam the copier.” — Ramona

On connecting with others:

“Everyone you work with is a human being behind their title, and when I finally applied this to client meetings and networking events, it made small talk much easier — people love to find common ground in pop culture, relationships and humor. Don’t be afraid to share what makes you an individual in a conversation because it will stand out in a sea of corporate speak.” — Brooke

On asking for more money:

“An HR professional once told me that when she presented job offers to candidates, she was frustrated to observe a pattern. Almost as a rule, male candidates asked for more money while women simply accepted the proposed salary. And the clincher is that the company often would have paid them more — if asked! To advocate for oneself isn’t being pushy or ungrateful, and no one should think less of you for asking. More likely, they just consider it part of the process.” — Sophie

“Listing accomplishments is something I see as a year-round project. Any successes, praise, side projects or unexpected turns I handle throughout the year, I write down immediately. A Google document, email draft, note on your phone or anywhere you can track these will be helpful. I’m always amazed how much I forget over the course of the year.” — Eva

“I recently asked for a raise and was concerned about seeming entitled or greedy. I got some great advice beforehand that was crucial to my success: 1) Don’t say TOO much. Prepare a speech that states the value you’ve added and stick to the script. I heard from several managers that employees ramble on when they’re requesting a raise and take too long to get the main point – more money! Plus, having something rehearsed in my head kept me from being so nervous. 2) If you aren’t making a lot of money to begin with, the standard 3-5% is just not going to make a major impact on your life. If you want to ask for more, just state the number. My mentor gave me a great line to use at the end: ‘Given these contributions, I respectfully ask that [insert company] raise my salary to [insert number].’ I was asking for a $10K raise, which I felt was fair given my contributions and similar roles at other companies. By stating my end goal instead of the percentage, it didn’t seem like an excessive ask. Ask directly and don’t use any language that qualifies the request, such as ‘I hope’ or ‘I know it’s a lot to ask, but…’ After I was done with my prepared speech, my manager actually told me it was the most eloquent request for a raise she had ever received. And I ended up getting what I asked for!” — Julie

On not sweating the small stuff:

“I had a boss who would give himself 10 seconds to freak out (scrunched up face, deep gasp, hands covering his eyes – he was a real character!) about bad news (team missed a deadline, etc), sigh, then say ‘OK, it is what it is. We need to make a plan for what to do next.’ Such good work AND life advice! It’s helpful to give yourself time to experience shock, disappointment, anger, grief, sadness and feel it intensely and passionately if need be — then move on and build from it.” — Mirella

On owning a mistake:

“Take ownership when you make a mistake. Clearly say it was your error and what you will do to fix it. Everyone is also trying to shirk blame but you can get respect by owning it and making it right.” — Hillary

On tackling tough meetings:

“Think of what’s going to happen AFTER the meeting (or any situation that makes me nervous) — could be next week, could be next year. Picture how I will feel when I say to myself, ‘Hey, remember when you asked for that raise? Why was I so nervous?’ This helps me get things into perspective. After all, that meeting is going to take up 15, 30, 60 minutes of your WHOLE life. So insignificant!” — Paula

On communicating clearly:

“Reframe your instinct to apologize into an opportunity to express gratitude. So, instead of saying, ‘Sorry that meeting went so long,’ you could say, ‘Thank you so much for staying engaged for a full hour.’ Instead of saying, ‘Sorry for making so many requests,’ say, ‘Thank you so much for taking the time to share this information with me.'” — Amelia

On managing your finances:

“If your company has a 401K, sign up. If they match or contribute, all the better, and even if they don’t, STILL SIGN UP.” — Lan

On changing careers:

“My grandma graduated college at 72 (oldest in her graduating class!) and retired the next year. I always think of her when I worry that I’m older than other people changing careers. Always reminds me of the quote, ‘Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.'” — Steph

“I come from a family of worriers and perfectionists (unfortunate combination). So for a long time, pretty much age 13 to just last year (I’m 32), I felt immobilized by this fear of who I am and what I’m doing with my life. I got this advice from my brother a couple years ago and I’m only now taking it to heart: QUIT AND QUIT OFTEN. Try anything and everything that interests you and if it isn’t working, quit it and move on. Contrary to popular opinion, failure can come from not trying.” — Emmanuella

What career advice would you add?

P.S. How to ask for a raise, and best reader comments of all time.

(Photo from Mary Tyler Moore.)

  1. Jessica says...

    I love cupofjo so much that I check here multiple times a day, excitedly awaiting a new post! I would love to see a bit more posts on interesting careers and transitions – specifically creative careers and self starter women. I’m an textile artist in a small city currently paying the bills by working in HR, and I am always wondering how I will transition to a more creative field (aka starting my own business). I would love some cupofjo inspiration and guidance on “making a living”!

  2. Rachel says...

    loooong time reader, love the blog. here’s what I want to know – what should we (women) do if we follow all best practices for negotiating a raise and are not only not given one or at least an appropriate one but are also punished for even asking and by a female boss? I did everything suggested in the section above and I did a ton of research before making my case to my boss. I was given a promotion to a director level position that was overdue and a 5% raise which amounted to a $2300 increase annually. I asked for 10% thinking that was reasonable for the level I was moving into (and not that much percentage-wise) and when I had asked for this promotion a year prior I was told that I deserved it but my boss didn’t feel like she had the money to pay me appropriately. I was pretty shocked that this is what she felt was appropriate. AND I know for a fact that the male directors make more than I do although I oversee the largest department and make the most revenue for my organization. My boss is the only one above me and she makes 125 times my salary! What is recommended as recourse when you suspect there is wage gap discrimination but you work for a small organization with essentially no HR in which to voice direct complaints too? How do you address a boss who promotes salary confidentially and punishes you if you reveal that you know what others make (because they’ve told you) in order to advocate for yourself?
    How do you bounce back when a boss, especially a female boss, isn’t as supportive as the example in this post and continue to advocate for yourself? I read time and time again about what we should do to advocate for ourselves professionally, but I want to know what to do if we try those things and fail (but we are succeeding and excelling at work). And if we suspect there is discrimination happening and we are a small (10 person) non-profit team (i.e. not major HR structure to support complaints)? Thanks!

    • Jasna says...

      Rachel, would you be able to talk to a lawyer and see if you have grounds for a lawsuit? Because from what I am reading, I think you are clearly being discriminated and I believe that is against the law.

      Perhaps, you can check and if you have grounds for lawsuit, you can go back and speak to her about it and ask her to think about the fact that you may go for it unless you get a salary that you DESERVE.

  3. Karin says...

    I’ve eliminated “sorry” from my workplace vocabulary.
    Inspired by something I read (probably here!) about how often women say ‘sorry’ inappropriately, I stopped apologizing in emails.
    Obviously, if I do something wrong, I own the mistake and work towards fixing it. But there’s no more “Sorry I didn’t get this to you sooner …”, “Sorry I can’t meet with you next week …”, etc.
    Removing that word from my vocabulary has made me recognize that I don’t want to hear excuses from others – I just want the information I need as soon as I can get it so that I can move on with my work. And this tiny change in tone in my work communications makes me feel more powerful in my role, keeps email threads more professional, and, surprisingly, has eliminated self-inflicted anxiety/guilt that I’m not measuring up to others’ expectations.

    • Sarah says...

      It’s right up there with removing ‘just’. A senior leadership member recently piped up as I did when a (non female) said I’m ‘just’ a____. Interestingly, the leadership member and I are female, and a minority in an electricity company and to hear us both remind this guy he wasn’t ‘just’ anything, was a heartening moment of solidarity for everyone!!

  4. Rachel says...

    Give credit where credit is due! It’s so important to me that when one of my employees does something but I’m the one passing it up the chain, I tell my boss who did the work, especially if they thank me for it. Or if you’re in a meeting, don’t be the person who takes credit for someone else’s idea—that should only happen in movies. And equally important, don’t allow others to take credit for your work. If you have a coworker who consistently does this, develop a strategy to get around this (cc’ing your manager on the email with your portion of the project, actively talking about what you’re working on, etc.) No one else will fight this battle for you, and it will be important when listing the major projects of the year for salary review.

  5. Oooh, these are all so good! I especially love Eva’s comment about keeping a list of accomplishments. I used to keep a kudos folder in my inbox – it was an easy way to keep track of compliments I’d received and was super helpful in preparing for my annual review. I’ve gotten away from this practice, and a friend recently mentioned that she was doing it so I was inspired to start again. It’s so helpful to have an ongoing record of what’s going well, every win, every nice thing someone has said – especially for a new business owner who could use a little encouragement on the daily.

  6. Talor says...

    “Listing accomplishments is something I see as a year-round project. Any successes, praise, side projects or unexpected turns I handle throughout the year, I write down immediately. A Google document, email draft, note on your phone or anywhere you can track these will be helpful. I’m always amazed how much I forget over the course of the year.” — Eva

    I read this comment when it was first posted and it has changed the way I viewed myself throughout the year. As someone who holds a role that can be seen as less than (I’m an Executive Assistant, an excellent one mind you), I have found it hard over the years to add up all the things I’ve done that could be seen as ‘above and beyond’ in my position. But since I read that comment, I started keeping a Word doc of major things I’ve worked on during 2017 and now that we are approaching year end reviews, I already have a substantial list of accomplishments ready to go instead of doubting myself as I wrack my brain to remember why I’m a valuable member of my team.

    Always appreciate this site and its beautiful readers.

  7. Nicole Brant says...

    Love this! Especially Steph’s grandma.

  8. Paula says...

    Let me also chime in… I often hear this cheerful “just ask for what you want” and don’t let it stop you just because you are a woman. Well, it’s a little less cheerful if you have had more negative experiences, which we as women, typically do and then we end up just put those experiences away in a box and move on. When asking my company that recently started a policy on remote work for that one day of work-from-home, as per policy, I was grilled about childcare when none of my male colleagues were asked those questions (not all were dads, but what about their work-out schedules? or car wash schedules? it sounds abstract and a little crazy, but why ask the one woman about childcare). Similarly, with the pay negotiations, sometimes when asking for too much, women might appear too pushy and an offer is rescinded where for a male, this might be seen as a strong and positive trait.

    I just think, real life sometimes is a bit harsher, then all those cheerful proclamations. For example, the “just show up and do hard work” – I did that for years, and was rewarded with pay raises and good reviews, but now, as a mom of two, also caring for an elderly mother, I frankly cannot give a damn, I show up, absolutely do my work, but nothing beyond that, and guess, what? I still get my % raise that everybody else gets. Sometimes, just showing up and doing bare minimum is a-okay too, if life gets to be too much. It’s a struggle and you have to be fluid to change with it but don’t kill yourself over it.

    • Michelle says...

      I agree with all of this and thank you for sharing it!

    • suzieq says...

      Love this. Thanks for keeping it real.

    • Erzsi says...

      Thank you, thank you, thank you! While I am 1000000000000% grateful to be living in the most feminist era in history, I do worry sometimes that we are letting the pendulum shift too far toward defining ourselves by our careers and ability to ‘work hard.’ This is ultimately such a capitalist view–that our worth is defined by our contributions to the economy. It’s ok to be fluid and focus on your career when that’s gratifying for you personally, but it’s also ok to just be sufficient at your job sometimes and funnel more of your energy into other parts of your life when that’s what feels right.

    • Sara says...

      Yes, completely agree with this! I think we do put a little too much emphasis on our careers, especially those who are college educated…it’s ok to have other interests outside of your job, too!

    • Maxine says...

      100% agree with this.

      Quick story – I used to give 200% effort and care at work. Got 5% increase (average was 4%). So for all that extra, I get 1% extra?

      This last financial year I worked very differently – wfh one day a week (without “formal” permission), doing what I needed to get done, still with utmost care because that’s who I am, but I didn’t kill myself doing it. This year’s increases – standard was 6, I still got 1% extra, BUT I was a lot happier at work this year.

  9. Lindsey says...

    When faced with a difficult colleague I immediately remind myself of one or two things – they are someone’s parent and/or they are someone’s child. It’s super weird, but by thinking this I tell myself that they are truly loved by SOMEONE and how can I ‘hate’ someone who is someone else’s mother, father, daughter, son. For whatever reason this helps me curb my frustration, anger, annoyance etc. almost every time.

    • Paula says...

      I apply this to road rage. I still call him/her an asshole but before pulling that middle finger or honking I think to myself, somebody loves them and they might be having a bad day.

  10. Alice says...

    I have a post-it stuck to the bottom of one of my computer screens saying “DINTR?”- Do I Need To Respond? It has helped me SO MUCH, particularly when I receive infuriating and occasionally inflammatory emails. There’s a person in my company who thrives on angering other people, and has made it his special mission to do this to me. Not responding to some of his emails has saved my sanity, and made me more respected by his line manager, and mine.
    Other pieces of advice:
    1. TAKE YOUR ANNUAL LEAVE. ALL of it. It’s there, you’re paid for it, and holiday days are important for your mental health. TAKE IT.
    2. Find a way to make yourself feel confident at work, and go with it. For me, it’s wearing heels- I feel more confident when I’m wearing them, and this helps people take me more seriously- which is important to me, as a young (and small!) woman in a pretty senior position (I’m eight years younger than anyone else in my team).
    3. Never be afraid to ask for advice. From anyone! I ask my boss, her colleagues, my colleagues, my dad for work advice ALL THE TIME. Everyone has other, valuable experiences that you might be able to draw on in your own role, even if their jobs are different
    4. Don’t date work colleagues…! I’ve done it three times and every time it’s ended with awkwardness and difficulty. LESSON LEARNED! (Though I’ll admit to knowing people who have very happy, successful relationships from meeting people at work, so maybe it’s just me haha!)

  11. Cazmina says...

    My advice would be to trust yourself and stand up for what you want, while at the same time learning when to pick your battles and let things go. You can’t always win, so you need to ask yourself if this thing is really that important, and whether letting this go might mean you have the ability to really fight for something more important later on down the line.
    Also, be kind and help people when you can (without being a pushover). You never know when you might need to call in a favour.

  12. Kimberley says...

    Absolutely love these!
    I would add: don’t send that email if you’re frustrated/cross/ upset/overwhelmed. Sleep a night and not only will you read it differently in the morning, but you’ll give a much better response.

    • Hillary F. says...

      Yes.

  13. Meg says...

    Loved these tips! Before one of the biggest deal negotiations of my career as a young tech executive, our CEO leaned over to me and whispered… “Just remember, they can’t kill us.” Not only did it lighten the mood but I think of that every time I head in to a high stakes meeting. Suck it up and be brave because what’s the worst that could happen!? Generally, death is not in the list.

    • Sarah says...

      I LOVE THIS! I am cracking up right now, LOL.

  14. Anneka says...

    I’m 26 and have been in the workforce for about four years now. I agree whole heartedly with the advice in your post.

    The only piece that I would add to this that has helped me a person and in my career is get a mentor. Not just one but many. I used to get so nervous talking to more experienced people, afraid that I was bugging them until I finally realized they had all been where I am now. It’s a great position to be in because most of the time you aren’t in professional competition with these folks and they have nothing to lose by giving you advice and insight. I have been able to talk through career change and life changes with them. I’ve found myself asking them for advice on office politics, 401k’s, and even work life balance. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes, make sure you take the time to talk with folks after meetings or follow up with them after a great conversation.

    Anyway that’s my two cents! Thank you for writing this blog it’s like having a cool big sister that has all the answers. It really is something special.

    • Hannah says...

      I’ve always wondered, how do you get a mentor??? I have never had one for my career life. And trust me I’d love one!

    • Anneka says...

      Don’t over think it too much. Look for someone that you either work with directly or is in the same field as you that you admire. Ask them if you could buy them lunch or coffee and pick their brain about some career advice. Most of the time people are flattered and lunch or coffee is a good icebreaker into the mentor relationship. Remember to not just stick to the career topic. Just because you know someone professionally doesn’t mean you know anything about their personal life and for a mentor you need to get to know both sides. Oh and I would have a couple of questions ready. Like….
      1.) What did you study in college?
      2.) How did you get your start in this industry?
      3.) Do you ever wish you had taken a different path?
      4.) I would like to be doing X in 5 years, what do you think my first step should be?

    • Hannah says...

      Thanks, Anneka!

  15. Jackie says...

    Re: On Owning a Mistake–my former (super successful) male boss gave me some advice that I think works in the corporate male-dominated world: Don’t point out your own errors (unless it is necessary). 9 out of 10 times no one will notice and it doesn’t matter.

    • Hillary F. says...

      I agree with this. Know when it matters and when it doesn’t. When it does, take responsibility.

  16. Victoria says...

    What a great post! I would love to see this idea turned into a series!

  17. This is so informative, and these reader comments are turning into the best advice column! I love learning about success in the workplace from other women who have tried it all. I love Ramona’s comment about holding her job for her big skills and her valued ability to unjam the copier. I’ve been thinking a lot on how to balance the playing field and firmly hold our place in the work force. I wrote about it while I was browsing for jobs this summer!

    https://thewonderof.co/2017/08/22/10-ways-to-get-ahead-and-get-the-job/

  18. Suzieq says...

    This is not popular or conventional advice, but a beloved mentor who is the tip-top of his profession nationally once told me “Never ask for more money when you’re offered a job. It starts things off on the wrong note. Take the job, then be so good that people start asking what they need to pay to keep you. If you’re good enough, they will just start handing you money.” This has worked well for me: focusing on work product instead of work politics gives you exit options, which raises your value internally.

    When offered a job in my highly competitive industry, I followed this advice and said, “I’d be absolutely delighted to join you. My one concern is that you do not have a written maternity leave policy. If you can commit to six months in writing, I will be delighted to accept right now, with no further negotiation on salary or other terms.” I probably left $10,000 on the table, but enjoyed every second with my baby when she came two years later. My employer has provided substantial annual raises each year since, without me asking – exactly as my mentor predicted.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what is incredible, suzie!!!!

    • Hanna says...

      but this so depends on what branch you are in!
      in jobs in the world of culture (highly competitive, but paid low) this would not work out.

    • Paula says...

      in a job that is regulated by unions, you could never negotiate a maternity leave like that. you were very lucky but this is not a good “advice” for many people who work for corporations or such where no special treatments can be make to individuals.

    • Maggie says...

      Completely agree with the other commenters here. I’ve only ever worked for women and all my experiences have been to-the-bone awful in every way. I was absolutely good, if not really great, at some of these jobs but I worked in female-dominated fields where office politics *IS* what matters. My hard work was stolen, taken credit for and my late nights and weekend work was often overlooked for the more popular girl on the block. In addition, all of the women bosses I worked under were catty, mean and self-centered. It only showed me the absolute worst that women in positions of power could be.

    • suzieq says...

      Yes! Norms definitely vary between industries. One-size-fits-all advice is seldom useful–maybe why we love COJ comments that aggregate hundreds of experiences, so we can find what speaks to us.

      And, Maggie, that sounds absolutely terrible. What a nightmare – so sorry you’ve had to deal with that..

    • Maggie says...

      Suzie, I can’t tell you what your compassion means to me. I left the professional world after all that to start a family and stay at home – a choice a don’t regret but sometimes, if I think about it too much, I end up feeling a lot like Marlon Brando’s character in On The Waterfront and cry myself breathless.

  19. Sophie says...

    PLAN FOR RETIREMENT. I know people who are 65 and will have to work until they die because they didn’t do this.

    • Colleen says...

      Yes! And while you’re dutifully saving for retirement, don’t envy people for their boats/houses/clothes, whatever. You have no idea what they might be going through.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, such good advice.

    • Emma says...

      Absolutely! I am a nurse (but majored in accounting in undergrad) and do budgets for my coworkers for fun. We all make roughly the same amount of money and I can tell you that 98% of people are not saving nearly enough for retirement and all their vacations and cool new cars and instagrammed brunches are with money they should realllllly not be spending so freely. A couple people have wealthy parents who help out, but most people contribute a few thousand a year and will be sorely disappointed when they hit 60.

  20. Liz says...

    When I was 12 my dad hired a salesman who was 82. The man was very spry and energetic. It made a big impression on me that a person could work as long as they wanted. My father would always encourage me to try a job and not be concerned how long it lasted because even after one day I’d have more experience than I had the day before. Throughout his life he had many different jobs and also worked into his 80’s.

    • Oh my gosh, I love this!! (and steph’s quote!). I am finishing up my master’s at age 29 (still so young! but many of my peers are a bit further into their careers at this point) and this is really uplifting as I begin my job hunt ;)

  21. Kay says...

    This is wonderful. Thank you!

  22. Rachel says...

    I work at a university and, a few years ago, attended a ‘negotiating your faculty position’ workshop. In a discussion about gender differences in negotiating behaviour, one of the panelists made a remark that has stayed with me. She explained that her female employees tended to be very reluctant to self-advocate in areas of salary, benefits etc., but that she witnessed those same people tenaciously and skillfully going to bat for their children when on the telephone with their schoolteachers, sports coaches, or doctors. While I don’t have children, I have noticed this with people I supervise at work. It feels so much more natural to push for a raise for them than for me, so now I try and pretend I’m in that role when I’m having those conversations for myself. It’s still not fun, but a little less mortifying!

  23. Danielle says...

    I recently began a job search due to relocation. I’m entering at a different place in my career and a different point in the economy than in previous searches. I’ve always just been relieved to find a job and have rarely been in the position to be super choosy. I realized a couple of things: one is that you are interviewing the potential job just as they are interviewing you. It doesn’t have to feel like a one way street. Second, just because an offer is good or better than what you’ve been offered before doesn’t mean you have to take it. I found myself so “flattered” by a generous offer for a job I didn’t really want that I almost took it. I realized it was like feeling like you have to go on a date with the captain of the football team because you should be flattered he asked, when in reality you’re not really into him. Realizing your worth can be a hard lesson ( in both jobs and dating ;))

    • Kirsten says...

      I really feel this. As a soon-to-be college grad, the job search is so daunting… Though I have good experience/grades/etc for my engineering major and age, I know I still have SO much to learn that I think it would be difficult to turn down an offer because I was afraid of getting nothing else. I definitely experienced that during my previous internship searches, and I am afraid of falling into a position/company that I am not truly invested in because I know I need to start paying off the student loans.

  24. Kaela Bergquist says...

    I wear a cuff bracelet that is inscribed with Draw The Line on the inside to remind myself to have work boundaries. Health care is a 24/7 operation and it will follow you everywhere if you let it. Making sure that my superiors and the staff that I supervise know that my personal time is non-negotiable has become my number one priority. One simple thing that helps: Change your personal voicemail with the hours you will respond to calls and be an enforcer of your own time.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love that, kaela.

    • Rebecca says...

      This is absolute gold!

    • Meg says...

      This is so incredibly true. As much as I used to work extra 12 hour shifts I usually never was thanked and it was never enough. I worked extra until the day I paid off all my student loans and my car loan at 26. Now I only pick up extra when I want a new designer bag!

  25. I LOVE the “Reframe your instinct to apologize into an opportunity to express gratitude” from Amelia. It reminds me of this article I recently came across: https://rosybluhome.com/say-instead-sorry-itll-change-way-communicate/

    Replacing “thank you” with “I’m sorry” in my daily routine whether it be an email, text, or actual interaction has been a life-changer in how I communicate at work. It’s given me such a sense of confidence and helped me gain respect and power, a giant step coming from someone who used to blurt out apologies for taking up oxygen in an elevator or space on the sidewalk. I would encourage everyone to try this out as an experiment.

    Also the grandmother graduating from college and then retiring is so wonderful and inspiring :)

    • Amanda Demsey says...

      Based on a similar article, I’ve been saying “thank you for your patience” instead of “sorry I’m late” to my patients for the past two years and it makes a world of difference. Saying thank you makes them feel like they’ve done me a favour (and genuinely acknowledges their patience!) rather than them grumbling that I ran 5 minutes behind. It’s a trick I recommend to all my girlfriends who are dentists and GPs because mitigating little negative interactions throughout the day really adds up!

    • Sarah says...

      Ok, I do actually love this technique, but there is nothing funnier than the Shouts & Murmurs version:

      Instead of: “Sorry for missing my deadline.”

      Try saying: “Thank you for understanding that time is a meaningless construct.”

      Instead of: “Sorry for spacing out there.”

      Try saying: “Thank you for your patience as I contemplate all the other jobs I’d prefer working.”

      It gets even better from there!

      https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/what-to-say-instead-of-sorry

    • Love that New Yorker article, Sarah!

  26. Lauren says...

    If possible, don’t settle! I just went through a 5 month job search process preparing to move across country and ended up in a place that I never would have imagined in the beginning because I was able to say “no” and not settle for less along the way. I know not everyone has this flexibility in a job search, but as much as it is possible, don’t sell yourself short and don’t settle for something out of fear of saying “no” to an opportunity you are not excited about. And if you are on a job search, cast a wide net and talk to as many people as you can! I ended up landing my new job by connecting with people I had never met before but were friends of friends of friends – you never know!

    • Danielle says...

      I just posted similar sentiments- I haven’t found that role yet but it is really encouraging to read your comment!

    • J says...

      I’m waiting for a call from a potential employer for a job I really, really want. But, I know that they will offer me less money from what I want. On the other hand, I know they have the money I want and would be able to give it to me, but will deffinitely try to save first. So, should I negotiate and ask? It could cost me losing the job because where I live there is a lot of people that would settle for less then what I want (I am not from USA), so the risk of staying without this job is high. On the other hand, I know that less money from what I had projected in my had for this experience and knowledge (I am in my late thirties) wouldn’t make me happy. What should I do? I would appreciate your thoughts, guys.

    • Lauren says...

      Good luck Danielle! I hope you find an amazing opportunity soon. The search can be frustrating and seemingly endless but in the grand scheme will just be a blip on the radar. Enjoy all of the conversations you are able to have and say “yes” to every informational chat – it could lead to your dream job!

  27. Love Steph’s point on worrying about age and life changes…I struggle with a windy path that has included the beginnings of a real career in the art world, stay at home motherhood, and now a mix of home with kids and running my own small business. Is it too convoluted?! A much older friend once yelled out when her youngest son turned 50 – “I would kill to be 50 again!” I was approaching 30 at the time and it was a real aha moment. We should all be that lucky!

    • Abby says...

      I love this! I feel as if I am at the same crossroads at 34 and was wondering of I was the only one! ❤️

  28. AJ says...

    This is sooo good! I love Mirella’s one!

    • Cindy says...

      I once came across a quote that really stayed with me: “Career decisions aren’t about ‘what do I like to do the most?’ Career decisions are about ‘what do I want my life to be like?'” When I was trying to figure out which career path to take I found myself thinking about what type of job I would enjoy and I’d picture myself doing the work itself. I didn’t really give a second thought as to how the work would fit with my nature. Sure, you may end up liking your work but, at least for me, it wasn’t enough to offset having to sacrifice other parts of my life and myself that I valued. In my case this was having to work many nights and weekends away from family and having a completely disrupted sleep schedule. For some people, this variable schedule would heaven but for me it was hell. After transitioning to a job that I both truly enjoy and fits in with my lifestyle made one thing crystal clear: know yourself. Just because other people love it, or people think you’re crazy to be doing what you’re doing, none of that matters as long as you are honoring yourself, your values, and staying on a path to building the life you want.

  29. Meg says...

    Yes to Emmanuella’s advice about quitting! My parents tried to teach me that you must finish everything you start. It made me afraid to try new things, because I would have to see them through to the end, no matter what. Sometimes quitting just frees up time to find something you love more.

    • Natalie says...

      Yes! I am going through this right now. It is equal parts terrifying and thrilling! xx

  30. Karen T. says...

    “After all, that meeting is going to take up 15, 30, 60 minutes of your WHOLE life. So insignificant!” This article and particular quote couldn’t have come at a more opportune time as I prepare to present to my global team in a few days! Why was I feeling so nervous? Soooooo insignificant!

  31. Mariana says...

    Love this! Wise wise people!

  32. J says...

    I’ve loved how you’ve started incorporating more reader comments into your posts lately!

    These are great. A piece of advice that my mom shared with me when I started my teaching career 10 years ago was “Be friendly to your secretaries and custodians.” I’ve since left teaching and started a whole new career, and that has stuck with me. I take it to mean “Be kind to everyone around you in the workplace.” Often times those people in roles that don’t necessarily connect directly with my job, but rather co-exist with me, happily help me in big and little ways since I always try to be friendly to them… like unlocking my office door when I forget my keys (AGAIN), making a “special” supply order for me, or sneak me the good chocolate on a bad day. :) Everyone contributes and everyone appreciates being recognized for that.

    • Laura says...

      this advice has proven to be invaluable. i am a trial lawyer in a busy office, but i say hello to every single support staff i see every day, and i start every trial by saying good morning to the staff and thank them for their help at the end of every day. i used to be a defence lawyer and was friendly with a particular paralegal …fast forward 6 months and i was hired in my current office where that paralegal had also recently been hired. it immediately brought home to me the idea that you never know where those around you will end up and made me very thankful i’d never pulled the ‘i’m a lawyer, you’re a paralegal’ BS that i sometimes see. We are still very friendly, and it was so lovely to see a familiar face hired on!

    • Emily says...

      100% agree with this very sage advice. On a selfish level it can make your daily experience of work so much more pleasant but above everything it’s just recognising the humanity of everyone and the right thing to do!

    • Hillary F. says...

      I totally agree with this.

  33. Jen says...

    Yes, yes, YES to all of this!! Thank you for putting this together. Extactly what I need right now. I’ll be re-entering the work force after time away, raising my child and I need the real, real on what is up.

  34. One of the most senior women that I’ve ever worked with came through the Navy before transitioning into her corporate career. She always says: Ship. Shipmate. Self. That’s a motto she picked up while working on Navy ships and uses to guide her work now. It sets such a good message to all around her: stay focused on the work, support your team and lastly, take care of yourself. That’s how good things happen.

  35. Stacy says...

    “Failure can come from not trying”. Wow that one hit me! All of these are exceptional tidbits, but that one got me right in the gut. Thank you Emmanuella!

    • gracesface says...

      Me too! I’ve definitely experienced that before.

  36. Adi says...

    Thank you all.
    I want to contribute to this discussion a few things I’ve learned:
    1. Though it may seem so, no work, training, education etc is useless. Always keep in mind “connecting the dots” speech.
    2. If every cell in your body and mind says this work/environment/boss is wrong for you – comply. Millions of years of evolution developed insticts in you that you should not disregard.
    3. Don’t undermine your work, as many women do.
    4. No family life is worth destroying your career. You might decide that you should take a few years off or adapt your hours, but do no quit totally. Even if you are at home for a few years, take courses, learn new things that will be usfull in the future, stay in touch with people you worked with, do some freelance work, go to 1 day seminars in your profession, read magazines in your field and so on.

  37. Emily says...

    My dad used to tell me, “If you come forward with a problem (complaint) always offer a solution alongside it.” I can’t tell you how many times when I have done that, my boss or project manager would express gratitude whether my suggestion was used or not. Bosses get so tired of hearing complaints but when you bring it with a solution, it gives them something to consider.

    • Irena says...

      This is what I also learned. Have a problem, then bring a solution. As a boss, I truly appreciated those who did more than just complain. When you step up with a problem and a possible solution, that shows initiative. That should be respected even if option is not viable.

      FYI: If you do this, and your boss has issues because they see any discussion of problems as criticism, then start looking for a new boss.

    • Mae says...

      That is a keeper. Great advice.

    • Emily says...

      A colleague gave me this piece of advice also, it has been invaluable. We can feel very clever seeing the problems but EVERYONE appreciates the person that can find a solution.

  38. Brooke says...

    The best piece of advice came from my dad when he told my brothers and I to always be the first person at work. We all have gotten multiple promotions over the years and all our bosses always bring up the fact we are at our desks working before anyone else!

    • JB says...

      I do this too! I find it is more positively noticed than staying late (which I never do). Coming in early shows initiative, whereas staying late seems to imply that you can’t get your work done – at least in the places I have worked!

    • Mae says...

      Yes to Brooke and JB!! That makes so much sense!

    • gracesface says...

      Seconded! At my job we are expected to be clocked in at 6:55 am. I am often there by 6:50 am and I have never been late (or had to call out either in almost a year…). I check in with people from the previous shift, get a head start and I think people notice!

    • Blandine says...

      I like to be an early bird at work but it is very hard to do when you have a child to drop at school or daycare. I love nothing else that to leave the house and go to work directly, get there early, have time to focus on work before everyone is in but I cannot leave the responsibility to drop my child to school to someone else.

  39. Rebecca says...

    I recently had a really positive review meeting with my boss – he told me that I was the type of employee every manager dreams of. One of the positives he noted about me was that I always own up to a mistake and don’t try to hide from my errors. I never really realized that I was doing that but apparently it has an impact!

  40. Katie says...

    My Dad told us sometimes work just sucks. That’s why you get paid anyway. So do the work and do it well, then, if you’re still unhappy you know it’s the job itself and not your work that needs to change.

    • mei says...

      Totally! My mom always says, “That’s why they call it work.” or “That’s why work is a four letter word.”

  41. Kay says...

    I lead HR for a large advertising company, and couldn’t agree with these comments more. Quick points:

    1. If you are negotiating salary only once receiving an offer, you’ve missed the boat. Your HR contact should share their expected offer with you in advance of an interview. If they don’t, it is perfectly appropriate to ask before you dedicate your time to working through an interview process with them.

    2. When in an interview process, it’s always appropriate to negotiate provided you do so respectfully and with intention. Be gracious, justify your reasoning thoughtfully, and clearly ask for what you need.

    3. Be prepared to give information, too. Transparency is a two way street.

    4. Yes! You can negotiate on more than just compensation. Know your options, and leverage them appropriately.

    • Brooke says...

      Love this tip about asking the salary before starting an interview!

    • sijia says...

      I’m curious – what about for people applying and interviewing for entry-level positions? Should we also negotiate for salary, or is that a bit presumptuous given that we’re just starting out?

    • Emily says...

      Would REALLY REALLY REALLY love a post with advice on negotiating salary, raises, and titles. Have always stumbled through this process and could desperately use some good tips or resources.

  42. Emmie says...

    If you can’t advocate for yourself, how can you advocate for the company you work for? That’s the mindset you should have when negotiating salary.

    You are showing the company how wonderfully pleasant you can be at demanding what you want, or at least reasonably compromising. If I hired someone and they didn’t negotiate, I would instantly feel like I hired a dud.

    • Alex says...

      I completely understand that mindset, but it’s so important to remember that many people – and especially women – find it much easier to advocate on behalf of someone or something else, rather than themselves – and can do so very well. For many, this may be a natural part of their personality, but society certainly strongly encourages it from a young age (think how we celebrate “mama bears” but call others “entitled” or “high maintenance”). So, while I think it is so important to help women advocate for themselves (we almost all deserve to earn more!), I think it’s also important not to continue to devalue what are currently “feminine” traits in the work place, by labeling people that are not, for instance, immediately comfortable asking for more money for themselves as “duds.” Not to mention the studies that show that women are, in fact, often punished for requesting more money in a way their male counterparts are not!

    • Kara says...

      Love you thoughtful response, Alex!!

  43. I loved reading this today. I read your post ‘How to Navigate a Career Change’ earlier this year with so much fear and shame, because I knew I needed to make a change but had no idea how I would do it. Well guess what– here I am sitting at my new desk, at my new job, in a totally new field that I’ve been at since August. I did it!! Thank you for extending these continuing posts of awesome words of encouragement from other women. We are in it together and the encouragement has certainly helped me along the way.

    • R says...

      Congratulations!!! What are you doing now?

    • Melissa says...

      Congrats, Sarah!!

    • Rachel says...

      This made me tear up! I’m so glad you found the courage to try something scary and new.

  44. canadianjane says...

    Given today’s breaking news story about women’s workplaces in Hollywood, how is there is not ONE MENTION of Harvey Weinstein, pay equity and not all women able to “ask for what they want” in every line of work – many of them embarking on what they believe would be a dream career?

  45. Amy P says...

    Changing “sorry” to “thank you” could be a big change for me. I’m writing it down to help me remember! Unfortunately/actually (mentioned in the comments) is also a good one. And the boss who let himself freak out for a few seconds, then moved on to find a plan – I need to adapt that as the “boss” of my kids!

    • Ellie says...

      I’ve been trying to do this more since I read about it a few months ago! Instead of saying to my boss, “sorry for taking up so much time”, I try to say, “thank you for your time”. Or instead of telling my husband, “I’m sorry for being so upset about X”, I try to change it to “thank you for understanding why I’m so upset/worked up/frustrated/exhausted”. It’s a tough habit to make, but it’s definitely a nice shift in mind set.

  46. Cindy says...

    “quit and quit often…”
    I definitely needed that advice. I’ve been working in my job for 5 years with a coworker that is absolutely terrible. Want to leave but without a degree the options are not quite what I need them to be. I think I’ll decide to quit in the near future. And possibly quit again :)

  47. aga says...

    I remember reading Amelia’s comment about rephrasing an apology into a thank-you, and I consciously do this everyday. My instinct is still to apologize (it’s partly a Canadian and partly a woman thing), but I usually catch myself in time to say “Thank you for …..” instead of “Sorry….”
    Thanks for sharing, Amelia!

  48. Sarah says...

    My former boss says, “You’re always interviewing.” Meaning you never know who you’re talking to, what that person may say about you, and what connections they have. In any setting it is always better to present yourself well and professionally.

  49. I’m on the precipice of a big career change, and the past few days I have been feeling myself losing resolve. It’s scary. I’m scared! Some of this advice is so helpful, and is really helping me to stay brave! Thank you everyone for the boost!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      good luck, meltown!!!! you’ve got this! xoxooxoxoxoxo

  50. jac says...

    Yes! Failure can come from not trying. I am learning that in my 30’s as well. <3 All good advice.

  51. Rosie says...

    Decades ago I read an article in Glamour magazine that said to always walk into a meeting with your boss with pad of paper and a pen/pencil. It doesn’t matter if its a scheduled meeting or something at the last minute and that is something I still do to this day. I’ve been very fortunate in my career to move up through the ranks but this has never been lost on me. To me it shows that you are always at the ready and with so many different things competing with our attention, it ensures I don’t forget the important things.

    • Julia says...

      We used to call it “ACP” at my last workplace…always carry paper! There is nothing more embarrassing than to have to ask for it from your manager during the meeting. Also, when you ACP, people in the hallways can tell you’re going to a meeting instead of just wandering around. A better image for sure :)

    • a former boss who has remained my friend loves to repeat the story of how well i did during our interview, how impressed she was to see that i came in “with notes already scribbled in my steno book”. i always thought this was so funny but now that i’ve moved up in the corporate world, i completely see what she meant. she appreciated that i showed up prepared and ready to work. nothing drives me nuts more than young dudes who roll into a meeting with nothing but their phones. honey, PUH-LEASE!

    • L says...

      One time my boss called me into his office for a quick chat and I brought a notebook and pen because I had no idea what it was about. He noticed the notebook and, laughing, made a comment about how prepared I was. He had called me in to give me a small, surprise mid-year bonus and the fact that I had brought a notebook and pen to that meeting just confirmed that I deserved it.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, L.

    • JessicaD says...

      Not just meetings with your boss, but *any* meeting! Showing up with paper and pen shows that you are valuing the time and effort of the person who called the meeting and of others in the room. (And really, if you’re having a meeting, there should be action items that come from it and with my forgetful mind, I need the pen and paper there to take notes, regardless of my role as boss, “underling,” whatever!)

  52. I love the advice, “quit and quit often”. I just quit my job to travel around SE Asia and I keep fearing I’m being irresponsible as a 32 year old. But, that advice is making me feel a whole lot better!

    This blog is the Oprah of the blog world. I feel the same way when I tuned into her show and she was sitting on her yellow couch– warm, fuzzy, inspired and understood. Love you CupofJo and everyone who leaves comments!

    • irresponsible 45yrs old, quit a soul sucking role in 2014, and went to freelancing and coaching, not looked back.

    • em says...

      @sarah What kind of coach? I wonder if I should choose a career coach to help me see what I need to do with my self and my career or a life coach…and how will I pay for that coaching?

  53. My favorite boss of all time was incredibly kind always, especially over email. You wouldn’t think that adding “have a great week!” or “enjoy the weekend!” or words like “outstanding!” and “excellent!” would have a huge impact, but they really do! The replies to his emails (as an assistant I was copied on everything) were significantly different than those from other people who were straight to the point with oftentimes sarcastic undertones. He even did this with people (he confided in me) who he didn’t particularly connect with/care for, despite their rude comments. It is so much easier to be kind and pleasant and he modeled that for me so well that I naturally followed his approach. He never said, “this is how you should behave/write/correspond” he just did it and it made me want to do it, too.

  54. My mum always told me that you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but you should always be the hardest working. Hard work can make up for many things.

    Discrimination is still very real in the workplace and something I’m currently struggling with, being young and female. Thanks for all the thoughtful comments.

    • Christine says...

      My mom used to say “It’s possible to be smart enough that people will be willing work with you even if you act like an asshole. But, almost no one is that smart and most of the people who think they are are dumber than average.”

  55. Rebecca says...

    These are all such good tips. When I asked my boss for a raise last year, I first wrote down all the achievements and the value I had added then worked out what I really wanted (that I felt I could ask for without being laughed out of the room, what I could reasonably get and then the minimum I felt I deserved and then worked out not only the percentage increase and annual increase but also the weekly and monthly amounts. I was concise and succinct – no rambling – and he was so impressed, he gave me the middle amount! I got an additional £10k payrise but when you break it down into weekly/monthly amounts (after tax) he could barely argue – especially when a couple of rounds of drinks for the team at the bar mount up comparably!

    Having said that, I’ve just accepted a new position at a new role (bigger company) and I was loathe to ask for more money – despite everyone suggesting it. Kicking myself as I probably would have been given it, had I asked!

    And I agree that it’s so important to be positive – whether you’re dealing with a difficult request, an uncertain colleague or a meeting felt demanding – putting a positive, active and goal-oriented spin on things really makes a difference. And as a writer who writes lots of collateral for big organisations, it helps people engage so much more however they’re interacting with you!

    It was great to read this post – I start my new job in three weeks and I’m aching with excitement!

  56. gfy says...

    ooo these were so good. Thank you, I love this comment idea!

  57. Lea says...

    Haven’t even read the post yet but what a great idea to share reader comments!

  58. Kimberley says...

    As someone who just quit their job with no real plan for the first time in my life (!), that last comment really resonated with me. After years of staying somewhere even though I didn’t think it was a perfect fit, I’m finally prioritizing myself so I can find something I’m actually interested in. I have the wisdom to know I’ll be okay!

  59. Alex says...

    When I was offered the job I currently have at a progressive company with great benefits, I tried to negotiate the salary with the HR rep. She shouted at me, “Are you serious? What would make you happy?!” in the nastiest way. I reduced my ask out of fear they’d take away the offer, then I hung up and cried. Years later I still shake with anger when I think about it. And am positive she would never have spoken to a man like that. Just a way of saying it’s not so easy as Oprah mag makes it sound!

    • gfy says...

      I would drop a copy of “Lean In” on her desk WITH your business card. Whatever criticisms people have of that book, it still encourages women to empower themselves in their careers and your HR person NEEDS to read it, lol. People like her need support to shift their perspectives. If she still doesn’t get it then look for a better offer from another company, and either leave or ask HR if they will match that offer to keep you.

    • AB says...

      I completely agree with this. Some women end up not negotiating because of bad experiences in the past. I had an offer rescinded because I asked for $2,000 more! A year later, when I tried to negotiate for another offer, the HR person was very nasty to me and told me she wouldn’t have continued with my screening process “if she had known I would ask for this.” Again, I was just asking for $2,000 more so that I could hit a measly $40,000. The third time, I didn’t even negotiate and accepted what they gave me. I’m currently making a lot more, but still underpaid for my position :(

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, those are appalling experiences, alex and AB! i’m so sorry to hear that.

    • Tonya says...

      I so agree with this. I think this is often presented as an unwarranted fear women have, when actually women are often punished for asking for what they want. Both in subtle and not so subtle ways. The solution of course is for all women to ask for what they want all the time so that everyone else can get with the program already. :)

    • t says...

      No one should treat people like that but I have to say I get frustrated as an operations manager that people feel entitled to more money when they haven’t yet proven themselves.

      If I advertise a position for $X and interview and extend an offer to someone at that salary I am frustrated that they then turn around and try to renegotiate. Why are you entitled to more money? Why did you apply for this position if it isn’t at the pay point you want/need? Prove your value to my team and then come ask for a raise. Of course this applies more when I am hiring millennials with under 10 years of experience.

    • Ladies, name your number first, and say it as a range! “I’m looking for something in the 85,000-95,000 range.” Anchoring is something used car salesman do; no matter how hard they try to adjust, they’ll wind up closer to your number than their original number, and a range feels less personal or “pushy” and more like you did your research.

      When I was first hired at a full-time job, I presented a 12-page report benchmarking my skillset and salary both nationally and locally. I got about $20K more than I was expecting, a higher title than I was expecting, and they apologized to me that they weren’t able to go higher. I have imposter syndrome in the worst way, but data helps. And I have friends who I pair up to pep talk with. I’ll help them before their salary negotiations or performance reviews, to pump them up and remind them of their contributions, and they do the same. We also pair up for peer feedback in our company tool on a quarterly basis. It’s not enough to be the only woman moving up, you have to pay it forward and share what you’ve learned.

      Some advice I got at one point: “Say the biggest number you can without bursting out laughing.” I’ve been not hired for naming a larger salary before, but those weren’t places with upward trajectory for me anyway.

    • Mary says...

      Thank you for sharing this. I have been the breadwinner for myself (when single) and family (once married) for the majority of my short career, and that has put a lot of fear into me regarding negotiations during a job offer. There’s a lot of contradictory advice out there about when is the right time, how to ask, etc. It’s not so simple to “just ask for what you want” when you need to support your family.

    • Karen T. says...

      I’m a corporate recruiter and that makes me so mad! Just yesterday I had a candidate ask for a 5K sign-on. I tried but I couldn’t make it happen for her (for a variety of internal compensation reasons) but I LOVED her for asking. The worst we could say was no but it would be great if EVERY female asked for more money. Oh, the impact it would have on the hiring managers, the wages and the world today.

  60. Ellie says...

    I would love to hear some advice on how to negotiate a salary when you’re starting a new job. When I was offered both of my last two jobs, I didn’t accept the initial offer and said I needed _. Both times I was told, “Sorry, this is the best we can do.” I don’t know if I’m approaching the situation wrong or that just happened to really be the case for these two companies.

    • gfy says...

      I’d love to know the same thing as I’ve often wondered if they feel comfortable saying no to my request *because* I am a woman but would have granted the offer if I had been a man…there is just no way to know, short of an honest conversation with someone who hires – within one company, how many women who request more are turned down vs men who do the same? Is that kind of detail documented?

    • There are definitely cases where it is just salary stuff, but one thing I’ve been told is to also negotiate other ways to make the job more attractive (i.e. more vacation time, flexible schedule, etc). Particularly for a company that has pretty strict salary scales/budgetary restrictions this is a way to make the most out of it.

    • Y says...

      I’m in a position where (as the COO of a small company, ~25 people) I’ve made a number of offers to employees where we really (truly) have a budget cap on salary. As a company we try and be flexible in other ways, like in one case we gave extra vacation days to that employee, or we had a written agreement to check-in on salary in 6 months, etc. That said, we also ask for salary info up front and if the person is not in the same range we are from the get go, we halt the process there because we dont want our offer to be disappointing or frustrating if that is what the person feels they deserve at the stage in the career they are at.

    • Emily says...

      Check out American Association of University Women! I went to a female-only workshop they held at my university a couple of weeks ago where they offered scenarios for us to act out negotiating and provided seven steps to help benchmark your salary and benefits. Negotiating is not only beneficial for yourself but for all women as it is one method to help close the gender pay gap.

    • Louisa says...

      I was told by the person hiring me: “I don’t negotiate.” I said “I appreciate that. Studies show that it is in the negotiation phase that women lose out relative to men.” When I started work and spoke with colleagues, they were shocked that I didn’t negotiate my salary. I was the lowest-paid new hire.

      Fortunately I was in a union and filed a grievance and got a raise right away. I also went back on the job market right away.

  61. L says...

    I love the comment about saying thank you instead of sorry! I need this in my life, after going through a rough year involving a burn out, a move to a different country and some other big things, I’ve noticed o apologise a lot. I recently started dating a man, and felt the need to apologise for being tired/not up for the fun I wanted to give him (don’t worry he was a perfect gentleman) and I realised afterwards that I really didn’t have to apologise. It’s ok. Instead I could have just thanked him for hanging out with me and making my very bad day ending really well.

  62. Mischu says...

    Listen! This is so underused in many workplaces. We miss many things simply because we have our own agenda and are trying to get that across. Listening is such an important skill…the boss who really listens to her employees, the employee who really listens to the customer, the coworker who listens to someone from another department…listening opens up the world to us.

  63. Helen says...

    I got some great advice recently – “Just because you’re struggling, doesn’t mean you’re failing” – so good to remember when new things seem overwhelming.

    • Katie says...

      Love that!

    • Chaz says...

      YES. THIS. Thank you <3

    • aga says...

      This is so comforting and reassuring. So needed. Thank you!

    • Carrie says...

      Those words feel like a hug to my soul

    • Rachel says...

      I’m saving this—writing it down and putting it in my cube, actually.

  64. Katie says...

    This is all excellent advice! Thank you Cup of Jo readers & Cup of Jo. :)

    When I was very new at my job, I worked hard on a project. My superior reviewed it and then sent it to his boss. She thanked him and said what a great job he did. He quickly replied on top of her note to give me credit for the project. He could have easily said nothing.

    Now that I’m higher up in the organization, I try to remember that and give people credit whenever possible. I also pass along any positive comments I hear about them. If I’m on a call that they aren’t joining and our client comments on how wonderful someone or something is, I immediately Slack that person to pass on the praise. My husband says I live on compliments, but the secret is we all do!

    • L says...

      Giving other people credit is gold. Also not throwing people under the bus/saving their ass will give you allies and friends for life. Win-win.

    • The best boss I’ve ever had was because he gave credit where credit was due. It’s rare in my industry and I’ve never forgotten it.

  65. Joanna says...

    CoJ readers are the best. I wish I could be in a networking group or social group or book club or SOMETHING with all of you!

    • Are any of you in Austin, TX? I’d do a coffee meetup or bake y’all a cake.

  66. Such good advice! Thank you.

    My professional advice; one super practical tip, the other is more a mindset.

    1) Try not to use the word “unfortunately,” whether in an email or in a meeting. It sets people up for disappointment and makes things sound worse than they are. Use the word “actually” instead. “Unfortunately, we are going to need a bit more time on this project” vs. “Actually, we are going to need a bit more time…” makes a huge difference!

    2) Think like a man or Tami Taylor–seriously. In a meeting, I try to pretend like I have the confidence of a white dude, and my ideas/opinions are worth saying. Also used this when I negotiated my salary when I took the job I have now. And in delicate or potentially awkward/distressing situations or tough conversations, I try my best to channel Tami Taylor from the TV show Friday Night Lights–she’s tough, confident, and gracious. Works for me!

    • Whitney says...

      Tami Taylor is my role model!

    • Amanda says...

      Using “actually” instead of “unfortunately” – this is brilliant and I’m going to make this change right away! Thank you for the suggestion!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      these are fantastic tips, joy! thank you.

      have you guys ever seen the mindy project episode “Mindy Lahiri Is a White Man”? it’s so good:
      https://www.hulu.com/watch/1022705

    • hahaha YES Joanna, I saw that episode, loved it, and almost included a mention of it in my original comment! :)

  67. Anna says...

    I just got a new job that i will be starting in 2 weeks. It is something I’ve never done before ( i was looking to break into a creative field but got a job as a bookkeper at a design firm….not super creative lol but job market in Vancouver sucks) and I am so worried I won’t do well..Reading these comments made me feel more at ease. If i am really awful at this job I’ll just quit it and find a new one! Thank you for your blog and creating this community Joanna!

  68. Maggie says...

    All such good advice! The bit I usually share with informational interviewees is procrastinate! If I wait until a deadline is close, the request has evolved or, often, disappeared. Tackling a job as soon as its assigned can waste time and energy. Of course, you still have to meet the deadline with quality work, but letting the project sit for a bit gives you more time to learn or think it over.

  69. Jordan says...

    Similar to the communication advice about not overusing “sorry,” I read this advice (linked to below) about eliminating “just” from your vocabulary and I feel like it’s made a huge difference in my sense of work confidence.

    “I am all about respectful communication. Yet I began to notice that ‘just’ wasn’t about being polite: It was a subtle message of subordination, of deference. Sometimes it was self-effacing. Sometimes even duplicitous. As I started really listening, I realized that striking it from a phrase almost always clarified and strengthened the message.”

    http://www.businessinsider.com/former-google-exec-says-this-word-can-damage-your-credibility-2015-6

  70. Lynn says...

    Re: the 401k. Yes, sign up (no exceptions), but also: contribute the maximum amount allowable! If they require 3-5%, don’t choose 3% because you’d really like that extra 50 bucks (or whatever). The small amount of extra money in your paycheck will NOT make a noticeable difference in your day-to-day life, but it WILL make a huge impact if it is invested early on in your career. Besides, it’s my experience that I can adjust my lifestyle to match whatever I’m bringing in.
    The money you invest for retirement will go so, so, so much farther than the same money invested 10 or 20 years later.

    • Marcy says...

      Inspirational! I finally submitted the form to bump up my contribution. Thanks for the encouragement.

  71. JB says...

    “Contrary to popular opinion, failure can come from not trying.”

    Love this. My mum’s mantra is “Trying is better than crying.” I live by it!

  72. China says...

    Yes, to “QUIT AND QUIT OFTEN”! One of the great insights I (finally) learned after years in the start-up world is that the most successful people fail quickly and fail often. We learn through failure. And you are never too old to make a big change.

    • A big YES from me, too. And a big THANK YOU to you for the last sentence in your comment. At the age of 49 I am in the middle of a huge career change (starting a small business, after years of working in a job that I had originally loved but where I was bullied after having dared to have a child). I am quite nervous, if I will manage to build a new career at my age, but given the circumstances, the only way out is to choose a completely different direction.

  73. Sarah says...

    I love this community. {insert all the heart emojis}

    • Katherine says...

      Me too! Always someone/everyone saying something thoughtful.

  74. Tracy says...

    All good advice. I love the bit about changing “sorry”s to “thank you”s!

  75. Carla says...

    “No job too big, no job too small”
    Was Ramona’s teacher part of the Paw Patrol?!?!?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahahaha

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Lolol

    • LOL, I thought the same thing!

  76. Denise says...

    O! That very last one: Quit and quit often. I needed this today. Thanks for these lovely ideas to think about.