How to lose your work gravitas

As dott we often say "life is more than the 9 to 5". And as much as that is true those few hours are also pretty important each day. As we settle in for a bank holiday without work, our new writer Alice Child looks back on her last 2 years of working life and imparts some very valuable advice.

I have been in the working world for approaching two years now, and looking back over the often mortifying moments of the past 18 months, I can safely say my transition from carefree English student and teacher in Thailand, to office-based London Account Executive, could have benefited from some stern words of advise from my older and wiser self.

Regrettably, I blundered unguided into the adult world, with nothing but vague notions of strutting through offices, cappuccino in hand, wielding my trusty purple Filofax at all times. A figure of sophistication, poise and respect. Lesson number one: Filofaxes haven’t been seen in an ad agency since 1982 - leave it at home or face the brutal scorn of your new colleagues.

Reflecting on some of my significantly less dignified moments adapting to my new ‘young-professional’ persona, I have complied a list of things best avoided if you wish to maintain any iota of gravitas in the workplace.

1. Go to the work Christmas party dressed as an olive.

Right. Let's start with something that should have been blindingly obvious, but some how was not. In adult world, when people say 'fancy dress', they mean something very different to the university days creeping increasingly further behind. When they say 'the theme for the work Christmas party is James Bond' for example, what they mean is: ‘come dressed in a tux or as a Bond Girl’. Take it from me, they do NOT mean: ‘dress up as a martini glass with a perspex cone wrapped around your waist and your head and face painted as a stuffed olive. They just don't. And you will never be able to forget the look of perplexed confusion on your CEOs face as he attempts to work out what the hell you are.

2. Spill everything

It doesn't matter how good you are at your job, how hard you work, or how bad-ass you look in your new top-to-toe Zara purchases. If you have dribbled pea and ham soup down yourself at lunch, nobody will take you seriously. So please, don't knock tea down your clothes, across your desk, onto your laptop (three times), onto your colleague’s desk (sorry Charlie), or onto your colleague’s cloths (again, sorry). An especially big faux par is throwing yoghurt on your client. Extra points lost if you're ever found attempting to dry your blouse under a hand dryer in the loo.

3. Eat three breakfasts

Apparently just because my office offers free breakfast, it doesn’t mean having three different breakfasts in one morning is acceptable behavior. I have found that a clear way to reveal your impoverished student mindset is by paying more attention to the free muffins at a meeting than what you are presenting. Stay cool.

4. Dress in clothes you have owned for over 10 years.

Some things you don't realise are not work appropriate until it's far too late. A personal low point was wearing a backless jumper and finding the head of department pretending to patch it up with paper and staples. Do your self a favour: throw out those old jumpers and save the crop tops for Infernos. You'll thank me later.

5. Bankrupt yourself on Jaeger Bombs.

It goes without saying that alcohol in general needs to be treated with caution. When a quiet Thursday night drink escalates to Karaoke Box in Soho, perhaps you should listen to those alarm bells in your head and resist performing a Destiny’s Child duet with your manager. Or don’t – let’s be honest, karaoke is great. It’s healthy (and fun) to let your guard down. Gravitas is overrated anyway.


Author: Alice Child

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