Career Tips From 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'
By Matt Tarpey, CareerBuilder writer
The leaves are changing, the days are getting shorter and the wind is getting brisker. All of this can mean only one thing: Fall TV is back! And with it, fresh episodes of one of last year's breakout sitcoms, "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."
And while your job may not involve interrogating criminals or fighting Santa Clauses, there are still some great career lessons you can learn from the employees of Brooklyn's 99th precinct.
Promote open communication
Characters keeping secrets or hiding information from one another is a staple of sitcom storytelling and frequently leads to the frantic hilarity and madcap hijinks that keep us tuning in week after week. The lies inevitably are revealed, often resulting in candid dialogue about why the character lied, followed by apologies and forgiveness.
This may make for an enjoyable half hour of television, but it rarely works out so neatly in the real world. Two of the central "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" characters, Sergeant Jeffords and Captain Holt, can spend a whole episode secretly manipulating their co-workers to increase productivity, only to be found out and chastised by the rest of the office with no lasting effect. The problem is, real offices don't have a mandate that all issues be tidily wrapped up in 30 minutes. People don't like being lied to, and unlike your favorite TV characters, your co-workers aren't likely to forgive and forget.
Take pride in your work
Of course, sometimes the desire to openly communicate is there, but your nerves get in the way. Such is the case with one of the precinct's employees, Detective Santiago, and her relentless quest for Captain Holt's approval. Santiago is so nervous trying to please her boss that she frequently puts her foot in her mouth.
Trying to impress a superior in and of itself is a great way to keep yourself motivated and engaged at work. But if you're just working solely for external approval, you're setting yourself up for some serious stress down the line. Take pride in your personal accomplishments and let your work speak for you.
Learn how to apologize
Knowing how to apologize is one of those skills that can be difficult to accept but will have a powerful impact on your interpersonal relationships. When you work closely with a group of people, arguments and mistakes are bound to come up. While it's best to keep a cool head and stay calm, when tensions run high, emotions can sometimes take over. When that happens, it's important to muster up a sincere apology, like the one Detective Diaz gave to Captain Holt, whether you were in the wrong or not. Bite the bullet and say you're sorry. It will relieve tension, help everyone move on and find a solution, and your co-workers will respect you for it.
Get past a slump
Some days it may seem like you just can't get a win. Maybe you've run into a roadblock, or you're having trouble starting a new project. Whatever it is, things just aren't going your way. You're in a slump.
In the season one episode "The Slump," main character Detective Peralta can't solve a case to save his life, and things seem to get worse at every turn. When he asks Captain Holt for help with his predicament, Holt puts him on data-entry duty and gives him a rabbit's foot to rub for luck.
But when Peralta ultimately overcomes his slump, it's not because of luck – it's because the data-entry work allowed him to focus on something else. Holt recognized that, because Peralta thought he was in a slump or cursed, his mind was actually working against him.
It's perfectly natural to get anxious when things aren't going your way. Unfortunately, that anxiety can actually make it more difficult for you to accomplish tasks. The key is to get your mind focused on something else – mundane busywork, organizing your computer files, cleaning your desk or even running a few quick errands – anything that can distract your conscious mind and give your subconscious mind a crack at the real problem.
Don't forget about nonverbal communication
You may not realize it, but whenever you talk with a co-worker, you're giving them a whole lot more information than just the words coming out of your mouth. Unlike Captain Holt, who always seems stoic, even when he says he's happy, your body language offers your co-workers clues about how your feeling, whether you intend it to or not. If you're not aware of your body language, you may accidentally be sending your co-workers mixed messages. Take control of your nonverbal communication, and use it to more effectively convey your thoughts, show respect to your co-workers and boss, and avoid misunderstandings.
Be aware of your surroundings
From listening to loud music to wearing distracting clothing, there's no limit to the ways you can annoy your co-workers without even realizing it. Being considerate of the people you work with is an easy way to avoid unnecessary tension and maintain a positive work environment. So keep your music low, avoid eating smelly foods at your desk, and take care of your personal hygiene. That last one may seem obvious, but as Detectives Hitchcock and Scully repeatedly demonstrate, it's possible for even long-time veterans to be oblivious to how their hygiene affects those around them.
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