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EQ Points for New Job Survival
by Susan Dunn

Maybe you’ve heard the saying “A new job is worth about 25 lbs.” About the only thing more stressful than starting a new job is being unemployed or under-employed, and looking for one.

Here are some things to keep in mind to help you through the transition.


The person who had your desk before you got there sued the company for everything possible. Or else they were the darling of the office, beloved as well as competent.

Whether it’s one of those two things, or something in between, if you’re replacing someone, there will be memories. Keep being yourself and doing your best, and eventually they’ll fade.

Purge your own memories. Don’t bring your former boss, colleagues and reports with you to your new job. Give the new ones a chance.

EQ COMPETENCY: Trust until proven otherwise. Mistrust has a huge self-fulfilling component.


Whoever’s training you for the job has fantasies about it. Whatever you hear, take it with a grain of salt. I once replaced a woman who trained me for two weeks. She was crying and screaming all the time about the job and boss from hell. It wasn’t that way at all for me. The job was easy to master, and the boss, a real mentor. Your own high EQ skills can turn around many a situation that had gone in the tank before you got there.

EQ COMPETENCY: High EQ and functional optimism.


You want to know where the bathroom and coffee are, who has the power, where to park and when pay day is. THEY want you to fill out 1000 pieces of paper, go to introductory meetings, and get trained on the obtuse software you know you’ll never use. How can you ace the first big project when you have all that to deal with? I don’t know, but you’ll figure it out.

Remember, your irritation at ‘policy’ will be more important to them than your performance output in the early weeks so quit trying to hit a home run, and just touch all the bases.

EQ COMPETENCY: Interpersonal skills, patience, creativity and flexibility.


Unless it’s a newly-created job, their focus is going to be on comparing you to the one before you, looking for negative similarities. They’re watching to see if you abuse the time clock, alienate clients or fail to meet deadlines, or whatever else the guilty predecessor did. Whatever it is, it will work itself out with time.

EQ COMPETENCY: Interpersonal skills. When you catch on to what it is they’re worried about, deal with it, in behavior and with words. “What makes you think I would fail to meet a deadline?” is one way to handle it. Don’t take the bait (that you won’t meet the deadline). Eventually by corrective actions, you’ll be trusted. And BTW, use a quizzical and calm tone of voice; nothing smarty.


These days the person hiring may read 200 resumes to bring in 5 people, and they may not remember what yours said. What they do remember won’t trickle down correctly. Don’t assume anyone knows your degrees, expertise, or past work history.

The first week on his new job Tom’s boss introduced him at the first meeting as being from New York (wrong) and a whiz at Excel (never had used it).

The antidote – take the time to get to know people one-by-one and demonstrate and/or subtly point out your strong points.

Work with a coach for an armory of EQ-wise responses to difficult people and situation.

EQ COMPETENCY: It’s the interface between thinking and feeling. Manage your emotions so you can think on your feet!


Keep your thoughts and comments positive. It’s not the time for self-deprecation, nor humor. Humor is easily misunderstood, and very culture-driven. Anything you say about yourself that’s remotely negative, can and will be held against you. Think of what you say in the early days as being shouted into a cavern where it will reverberate and amplify.

EQ COMPETENCY: Authenticity. Until they know you, be yourself a little more than you ordinarily are.


Because of your predecessors, and because of human nature, you’re going to have to prove yourself in many ways. The group you’re entering is forged, and you’re the intruder. Some new hires in the past have not fit it, but others have, and eventually they’ll incorporate you into the “family.”

It can feel like a minefield at first as people come and try and get you to take sides, agree the working conditions are terrible, and so forth.

USE YOUR EQ: Learn some phrases of reply, and adopt a neutral tone of voice, such as “So I see you’ve found this to be difficult,” or “I can tell you don’t like Mr. X,” or simply, “Thank you for giving me the heads-up on that.” You don’t want to ignore it because they’ll think you’re ignoring them. You don’t want to amplify it or agree, because that can and will come back to haunt you. You have to get in the loop first to find out what will work in your favor.

When Blanca started her new job, Juliette told her all the faults of Mary, another secretary. Two weeks later, Juliette was fired, and Blanca found out that Mary was the boss’ niece.

Gossip is never the best policy, and can be lethal early-on. If someone comes to you with gossip, under the guise of “advice,” you can tell a lot by the intensity of the emotion behind what they say. The more emotional they are, the more personal to them it’s likely to be; in other words, not necessarily true.


Before you got there they raided your office for all the good supplies and equipment, and then made a list of things to foist off on you that no one else wanted to do, like taking the cases in Durango County, and telling you no one was allowed to mess with the thermostat. The less organized the management of the organization, the worse it’s going to be.

EQ COMPETENCY: Use your intuition. If it smells fishy, it is. If it’s colleagues, don’t fall for it. If the senior partner, however, tells you you’re going to Durango County twice a week, then like it (or leave). If your office doesn’t have the equipment others do, mention it to management. Workers generally do this cannibalizing without informing management.


You have to see it from the other people’s point of view. Every new person who comes in complains about things, and often it’s things they’ve complained out themselves. Give yourself a break and save your criticism until you know what you’re talking about, and who to go to with the information.


It’s the negative attraction principle. If you try too hard you’re worrying, and also forcing things, and you’re more likely to mess up. Remember how you were in your last job, at your peak performance, and try and adopt that attitude.


It’s a combination of a new germ pool, and the stress of a new job. Take care of yourself as best you can. Get more sleep than usual, eat right, and don’t quit exercising.

When you’re new, you’re under the microscope. Keep your nose clean, use your EQ, and one fine day they’ll hire someone new and the focus will shift.

Good luck!

Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, , Coaching, Internet courses and ebooks around emotional intelligence for your personal and professional success. Coach Certification Program - fast, affordable, no-residency, training coaches worldwide. Email for free ezine. Susan Dunn may be contacted at or



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