Time To Grow Up – How To Be An Adult At Work

SUMMARY POINTS

> Acting like a whiny kid at work won’t do you any good at all
> Engaging in childish behavior can ruin your office reputation and credibility
> Self-awareness is an important part of avoiding childish reactions
> Take control of your responses to situations rather than being a passive “victim” of circumstances

It’s been a busy and stressful week at home and work, and you’re just barely keeping it together.

Right up until your boss piles another deadline on you and you realize it’s gonna be another late night at the office.

You’ve got a ton of things to do when you get home and you can’t remember the last time you had a bit of “me- time” that wasn’t on the toilet.

The stress gets the better of you and you find yourself mentally reverting to a whiny six-year old kid.

Inside, you’re screaming “not fair!” at the top of your lungs and stomping your feet on the ground. Outwardly, you’re pouting, moaning to anyone in the vicinity, putting on childish faces, and letting it be known that you are not a happy-camper.

It isn’t the first time this has happened. Not even close. Anytime you’re faced with a situation outside of your control, your inner child always makes an appearance.

At first, your colleagues found it amusing, thinking it was just an act. But as time went on, you’ve become more of an inappropriate irritation at best and a real fucking annoying bitch at worst.

You zero in on your needs and lose sight of how anyone else feels - pure selfishness. It’s making for an uncomfortable atmosphere at work. Not to mention what it’s doing to your professional image.

All of this just makes you feel worse. And you react by doing the whole thing all over again. It’s a vicious cycle that just spirals downward.

You’re aware that your behavior isn’t doing you any favors but you can’t seem to snap out of the cycle you’ve found yourself in.

Deep down, you want to behave like an adult. Trouble is, you just can’t seem to hold back the immaturity.

Well, it’s time to step up and be more of an adult at work to keep your reputation (and your sanity!) intact. 

What If You’re Not An Adult At Work?

We all do immature things now and again. Being a “fun” kid every once in awhile is a good thing and it’s something we recommend everyone to do. However, if you’re mentally regressing to a temperamental bratty kid regularly, it can have some very negative effects on your career.

It’s one thing to not follow the rules as a kid at home. It’s entirely another as an adult at work. Here’s what happens when things go off the rails.

You Create A Vicious Cycle Of Stress

Failing to take responsibility for your actions and behavior can create a lot more stress at work. It’s very much like procrastination. Not doing something about it will only make things harder for you in the long run.

It’s also likely that you’ll struggle in meeting your deadlines and getting projects done. This can create a vicious cycle that makes you act in a more immature fashion. 

You Sink Your Rep, Cred & Career 

Immaturity will never get you anywhere in the working world. The only thing it will do for sure is destroy your reputation and credibility with others. You’ll be on your own, isolated because nobody wants to be near you.

And, no manager will ever consider giving more responsibilities to someone that acts like a kid at work. If they can’t even manage their own emotions at the office, then there’s no way in hell that they’d get promoted.

You Lose Support From Coworkers

If you’re seen as someone who isn’t a team player but more like a pain-in-the-ass, you won’t be too popular with your co-workers. Even worse, your attitude can be seen as holding other people back. It’s not just your work that can be affected either. 

You Make Work Suck Even More For Others

Childish behavior in the workplace can affect the productivity of the people around you too. It’s pretty hard to focus when someone is acting up and you’ll likely cause a ton of stress for your colleagues too. Especially if they have to pick up the slack.

The 6 Key Elements Of Being An Adult At Work

Now that you have a good understanding of what’s on the line if you struggle to be an adult at work, let’s look at what’s involved in turning things around.

To be more of an adult in the workplace, these characteristics play a big part in making it happen.

1. Self Awareness

When your inner child comes out to play, your self-awareness goes right out the window. It’s like when kids speak their mind freely without filters - for better and worse. It’s the out in public broadcasted question, “Mommy, why is that man so fat?!” that makes you cringe.

It’s the same thing at work when you don’t stop to consider how you’re coming across to your co-workers and how your behavior is affecting your reputation and credibility.

This also prevents you from taking steps to change your behavior.

Being self-aware can stop your inner child in its track. You’ll know what your strengths and weaknesses are and how they can reflect on you. You’ll also be able to spot the triggers that can send you straight into brat mode.

Your internal “early warning system” can stop you from acting on these triggers and help you stay cool. So, when a deadline is pulled forward or another project gets dumped on your already full plate, you won’t get all whiny about it.

When you’re prone to letting resentment or anger get the best of you, these triggers can act as a catalyst.

Becoming more self-aware requires a bit of work on your part but there are things you can do daily to get there quicker.

Check out this 6-minute video clip.

VIDEO: How To Be More Self Aware -- 5 Powerful Ways to Increase Self-Awareness
YOUTUBE: Steve Scott Show
LENGTH: 6:23

Summary points:
> Becoming more self-aware can help with personal growth
> Getting feedback from people you trust can help you become more self-aware
> Mindfulness, journaling, meditation and personality tests all help too

2. Being Accountable

Ever feel tempted to blame someone else to get yourself off the hook?

You’ll burn bridges incredibly quickly and your credibility will be worth nothing.

Being accountable for your actions and recognizing the effects they can have is another key part of being an adult at work. Owning up to your mistakes can be hard. When you drop the ball, it’s tempting to deflect attention away from yourself.

Stepping forward and saying “sorry, I messed up” takes guts. No excuses. Just provide an explanation of what went wrong and how you’ll avoid it in the future.

It’s the adult thing to do in these kinds of circumstances. It's even better if you make the apology in person.

And guess what? People have a lot of respect for someone who can take responsibility for their actions. Your reputation will shoot up!

3. Accepting Criticism

Does even a little bit of criticism bring the temptation to stick your fingers in your ears and sing “LA, LA, LA, LA, I can’t hear you!”?

Accepting criticism can be tough, even when it’s of the constructive kind.

The child in you wants to go on the defensive or run away and pretend you didn’t hear it. And even as adults, it’s not something we experience often and so, on the rare occasions it does, we automatically think, “Where the hell is this coming from? And why?”

It’s natural to want to avoid things that may hurt us, whether that’s physically or emotionally. But, if you can “hack” this natural instinct, you’ll bring yourself up to new levels that you never thought was even remotely possible.

VIDEO: The One Hack to Increase Self Awareness
YOUTUBE: GaryVee TV
LENGTH: 3:16

Summary points:
> Create a “safe zone” to allow others to tell you cold hard truths
> Get over yourself and let others tell you about the real you
> Be okay with accepting real feedback and take action on it

The adult side of you knows that the criticism wasn’t just intended to hurt you - unless you’ve got an asshole in the office but dealing with them is a whole other story! Moaning and complaining about it doesn’t solve anything. It can make the situation a lot worse though.

Most of the time, criticism is offered because you could have done something a little bit better. It’s not always easy to see that when you’re viewing the situation through your own narrow perspective. But take a step back and you can probably start to see what you could have done differently.

Being an adult at work is about taking that criticism and using it to do better next time. 

4. Being Proactive

Being in child mode can leave you feeling helpless and powerless. It can seem as though things happen to you and you have no control over them.

This lack of control extends to your emotions too. It’s why you’re fighting the urge to have a full-blown toddler tantrum whenever life gets unfair.

It’s not that you intentionally set out to act like a child. It just seems to come out of nowhere - often because you think like a victim. It keeps you feeling scared, paranoid and out of control.

When you’re in adult mode, you have a different perspective.

You recognize that you have the power to change your mindset on things. You can be proactive and take control of how you react to various situations. This can put you in the driver’s seat and change the outcome.

Being overwhelmed with projects is a great example.

You might be tempted to stamp your feet and shout “I don’t want to do this work!”. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not going to do shit for you.

What if you sat down with your manager and had a good look at your workload to see if you can move anything around or push any deadlines back? After all, everything can’t be #1 and some things have gotta give way.

And if you really can’t take anything else on right now without compromising on the quality of your work, go back to the person who gave you the work and explain the situation.

Maybe you genuinely didn’t realize how much you’ve already got on your plate. And often, the deadline isn’t quite as urgent as they originally made it out to be. Suddenly, you’ve gotten rid of some of your stress and bagged some extra time to get everything done. 

5. Not Being Afraid to Say No

Are you too scared to say no to things? It’s a sure-fire way to end up with way too much on your plate.

Putting your foot down, setting boundaries and letting your co-workers know when you can’t fit anything else in can save a lot of stress, panic, and resentment. It’s also less likely to trigger a scenario in which the temper-tantrum kid in you comes out.

It’s often true that people continue to dump stuff on you because you do the work. Sure, you might whine about it and have a mini-meltdown but you never actually said no.

It’s not always obvious to other people that your behavior goes hand-in-hand with your stress levels. They may not realize that you’re already in over your head and piling more on top is going to trigger child mode.

Stand firm and explain that you can’t take on any new projects.

You can try to take a similar approach at home to lighten your load.

If your kids are old enough, ask them to help out with small tasks around the home. This takes away some of the chaos that comes with trying to juggle a busy workload with hectic family life. 

6. Being Grateful 

Reframing your thinking can give you an adult perspective on the situation. And, it can even turn a negative into a positive.

The child in you wants to scream and shout about the unfairness of having to stay late or taking on yet another project you don’t have time for.

Switch up these thought processes and look at things from a gratitude angle instead.

Being grateful that you’re trusted enough to handle the extra workload or that you have the opportunity to work a bit of overtime and earn more money is something that a lot of people would beg to have.

Let’s put it to a more extreme example.

Imagine not having any job at all, being unemployed and absolutely broke...like “living-on-the-streets” kinda broke, with no home, no friends, nothing.

Suddenly, the current situation doesn’t seem so bad, right?

Maybe you can even start to see a few positives in it! Gratitude drives positivity. In fact, being grateful is one of the best ways to trigger happiness.

There has been a lot of research around gratitude lately and it’s proven to bring a lot of benefits. In this study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, gratitude was linked to positive emotions. In this dual UPenn and Harvard study, it helped people to feel valued.

Taking a deep breath and finding something to be grateful for can keep your inner unruly child at bay and bring out the happy-camper instead.

It’s Time For Less Whining & More Adulting

​Taming your inner spoiled brat takes a bit of work but you can repair your reputation and earn back the respect of your co-workers. That might feel impossible right now but trust us, it can be done!

Those bursts of petulance that have been so familiar lately are about to be a thing of the past. Armed with your new-found knowledge of how to be an adult at work, you can take steps to repair the damage, rebuild your credibility and build a better personal brand at work.

Being an adult can be scary but it’s not too late to start acting more maturely.

You got this!

And when you’ve got it down, the only time you’ll be whining is when you’re “wine-ing” for one more glass of red or white.

Feel Better,
[Cubicle|Therapy]