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Denike Benson: 13 Lessons I Have Learned From Work



I have learnt a few things from the (not so many) places that I have worked at and though I am still learning.

This is what I have come up with so far.

1. How not to backstab and gossip your way to the top because it is so hard to always look over your shoulder. This is the first cardinal rule as it determines how others perceive you and how they will treat you. If they know that you talk a lot, they might not want you to stick around.

2. How not to lie your way through situations and how to always take responsibility; because if you don’t someone will blame you first. If you make a mistake, admit it immediately so you don’t end up looking like a fool. You might still end up looking like a fool anyway, but at least you will seem like a slightly more responsible fool.

3. How to treat others as you would want to be treated- you never know who might be talking about you and it’s always nice to have a friend in your corner. That means if people ask about you, tell them what they need to know and nothing else. Try to be friendly but not too familiar. If they want to tell you about themselves, let them. But when they want to tell you about someone else that you may or may not know, walk away. Literally walk away.

4. How we are all just grown children and the term ‘adult’ does not actually have a meaning. Therefore, don’t take anyone too seriously. If they act irrationally- humour them and let them have their way. You are not being a fool- you are being the bigger person and letting them act like the child that they are.

5. How to always cover my tracks because someone is always watching. Don’t go on social media or anything that is not related to your work. Use your phone sparingly. And if you do do any of these things, make sure you don’t get caught.

6. You thought you had seen or read it all but there is always something that will surprise you. Be prepared for that.

7. If it’s not your money, don’t spend it anyhow. Enough said.

8. If family or friends visit, limit your conversation and make them wait for you. You want to seem as deeply committed to your work as possible. This goes along with talking to a colleague that sits across from you or is close to you. Don’t spend endless minutes talking with them. The work might be boring or there might be no work at all, but you are still getting paid for it and so try to look as if you are actually doing it.

9. Don’t go for too many coffee or toilet breaks (not more than 3 during the day excluding lunch time). Lunch should be the designated time you have been given- do not go over and above that and try not to go below that- this is break time and a break you should have.

10. The customer is always right- even when they are not. Customer service is most important and every company serves a customer of some sort. Don’t let the customer see all your nonsense or that of the company’s. If they act irrationally- refer to point 4 above. Don’t let them walk all over you but don’t give them attitude either. At the end of the day, your company and your pay depend on how you treat the customer.

11. Try to have some initiative and come up with new ideas as to how to improve your work. This makes you look like a top asset and shows that you are committed to your work. Even if your ideas are rubbish, the very fact that you are thinking and using your noodle, makes you seem like more of an asset.

12. Always be punctual. Tardiness is unprofessional and makes you look like uncommitted. Whether its 2 minutes or 5 minutes. If you are going to be late- don’t. But if you have no choice, make sure that you have the number of someone higher up that you can tell that you are running late.

13. Especially if it is your first job, there will be times when you have no idea what you are doing and you will make a lot of mistakes. There will also be times when you will wonder- are they regretting hiring me for the job? Do I know what I’m doing? Do I really want this? Help! All these thoughts will be running through your mind as you try to learn the ropes. Don’t worry – no one was born knowing what to do and if they say they did they are lying to you and themselves. A friend told me about a saying that she heard- fake it until know it. That means pretend that you know what you are doing until you do. And if you don’t and never will know what you are doing, I suggest you look for something else to do.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Sam74100

Denike Benson is a Christian and a reader. She is also an aspiring writer ( or wishes she were). Her blog will be up and running soon ( or as soon as she gets the energy to start it).


  1. Diddie

    March 24, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks for the tips. They were very insightful

  2. Kunmi

    March 24, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    Helpful tips. BN, Title says ‘Denise’, description box says Denike. I think one of them is fibbing.

  3. @edDREAMZ

    March 24, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Thats nice though no doubt..

  4. dazzle

    March 24, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    13 lessons I have learnt from work. BN take note

  5. been there

    March 24, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    The writer is hilarious . So who made u the toilet police? If u face ur work, u won’t notice how many times anyone is taking a loo break. Wat if he/she is purging, or is pregnant? The main thing is for people not to faff around at work, simples.

    And while you are at it, learn ur tenses, the title should read ‘learnt’ not ‘learned’ darling

    • CEO

      March 24, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      Learnt (British), Learned (U.S). she’s right either way

    • ms.b

      March 25, 2015 at 5:19 am

      And who made u bella naija grammar tutor?? U where so quick to show u know better meanwhile u r wrong. That should be lesson no.14. Her article is made for people like you.

    • been there

      March 25, 2015 at 10:32 am

      Oh keep it quiet there. It’s either ur writing in on English style or another, e.g. British English or American, etc. A combination only creates confusion for the readers. It’s not about showing who’s better, if the writer had sought the opinion of another writer for example we won’t be discussing this. Don’t even get me started on her poor use of punctuation. Criticism helps you improve, i’m not here to knock her effort or nudge on mistakes like a typical boot licker like yourself.

    • effective communication

      March 25, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      The toilet policy wouldn’t work for me. Toilet is my friend! End of story.
      In other news, learnt/learned are both correct

  6. EhiLolaNnekaTega

    March 24, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Erm have you really thought number 9 through? Number 9 is the quickest way to a UTI which can lead to kidney infection. People if you need a toilet break. Your health comes first. Revise this please. If your employers do not agree, kindly let them know. You can sue and you will win. 🙂

    Number 2-Unfortunately some working environments praise and encourage gossip. It is seen as keeping management informed of what goes on.

  7. Ocean Beauty

    March 24, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    My own tip: Be close to your co-workers but be closer to the people on top of you especially your bosses.

  8. D

    March 24, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    I think it is about learning your environment and learning to be flexible. The best manager i can say i have had so far in my life as a career individual was with a man who nullified #8. Ron was big on having a community vibe at work and it is the people that will take time to sit and talk with colleagues and organize events even if it is just a day trip to the neighbouring town (yes during work hours) or organize baby showers, and all sorts of showers that he liked and got promoted. Infact, if you had a 30 minute meeting scheduled with him forget it you are going to be in there for 2hrs minimum. He truly enjoys people and for him putting your family on hold not happening you go. He will tell you work will still be there. (Gosh I miss him even typing about it). Right after he was promoted the next manager was the exact opposite. I have since left the group but I have to say the group accomplished more under Ron than they ever have, infact that group has not been the same. People still talk about him today and compare all the managers the group has had to him. He certainly left big shoes to fill and no one has been able to fill them so far. Both with producing results and building a very comfortable and conducive work environment.

  9. tunmi

    March 25, 2015 at 12:26 am

    I’ve learned to see my coworkers as individuals. We are all there to earn a living and we all have different priorities and values. Don’t try to mold people into versions of yourselves. Take them as they are and keep working towards your goals. Everyone will have their positives and negatives, take the positives and roll with them.

  10. Tru

    March 25, 2015 at 8:57 am

    1000 Likes for this article. I learned a long time ago that us adults aren’t that different from kids. We’re just bigger.

  11. Ani

    March 25, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Very nice article. And to all those who snitch on their colleagues to gain favors and promotions, how do you people sleep at night. They just love telling lies.
    Like the writer stated, don’t give out too much information about yourself.

  12. Teawine Penner

    March 26, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Great post, Denike.
    Let me add Lesson 14:
    – Do your part and do it well. Add some extras if you can!
    Do your work as unto God. It’s not the one who closes last, or the hardest worker that gets d promotion, Work smart, don’t kill yourself, especially in Nigeria here where work culture needs a great revamp generally. So just put in your best, and be remembered for great, and not shoddy work! It def pays off!

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