3 Things to Count on the First Weeks in a New Job (and What to Do Around Them)

Jun 15 21:00 2004 : Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach & Consultant Print This Article

Here are three things typical of your first weeks on a new job. 1. You will get sick.2. You will find out you were lied to.3. You will have a ... at ... Now that you have the proper ex

Here are three things typical of your first weeks on a new job.

1. You will get sick.
2. You will find out you were lied to.
3. You will have a mini-crisis at home.

There. Now that you have the proper expectations,Guest Posting it will be easier.

If these don't happen to you, be pleasantly surprised. If they do, here are some tips.


Why do so many people get sick the first weeks on a job? Probably two things are at work here: stress and a lowered immune system meeting a new germ pool ready to invade.

The stress of a major change (such as a new job) can lower your immune system. It depends upon you, the level of the stressor, and what it means to you. The new germ pool, however, is waiting for you. You're moving into a new environment of viruses and bacteria your body hasn't built resistance to. After a matter of weeks, you've generally adjusted and will quit getting sick.

Allergies and personal sensitivities may also play a part. Your new surroundings will have the usual collections of chemicals, odors and bad air. New carpeting, musty file rooms, someone who has a scented candle in their office, lots of live plants (that harbor molds) . It's all there. You may react strongly at first; other times, we
"develop" the allergy as time goes by.


The lawyer Julie worked for had just returned from a hunting safari in Africa. During her first month on the job, the head of a water buffalo (whatever) arrived in his office, crated and heavily packed in naphtha. (The raw ingredient in moth balls is naphtha.) It was delivered while she as at lunch and when she returned, the odor was overwhelming, and had, of course, already invaded the HVAC system. As with ammonia, some people are immediately and strongly affected by the odors, while others
hardly notice it. In the case of naphtha, however, Julie's doctor confirmed it could have caused real damage (when she went to check on her sore throat).

Could you anticipate something like that? No way. You can only expect the unexpected, work on your EQ, and be prepared to cope.


It happens to the best of us, from the best of us, in the best of places, at the best of times. In other words, don't over-react. Keep your cool, your Emotional Intelligence, but understand that all communication represents MIScommunication, and when someone wants something (like wanting you to come and work for them), they will do what it takes, emotionally. "Motivation," as we say, "is not a thinking word."

Few hirers will outright lie to you, or misrepresent the truth, but many will fail to mention certain things (like you're expected to take a turn babysitting the boss' pre-teen when she comes to the office) or they exaggerate ("we get the usual vacations off" - only it doesn't mean the federal holidays!).

Yes, you can listen carefully at interview time, and ask questions for clarification, but nobody's perfect.

Clients tell me about sins of commission and omission both.

Hang in there and test it out during the early weeks. If it's something you really can't live with, you'll have to do something about it. Otherwise, live with it, and adjust your attitude accordingly.


1. Benjamin, an English major, was hired to teach Russian in an inner city high school. When he got there, he found out he'd also been assigned 3 Spanish classes, when he had never taken Spanish and had no knowledge of the language whatsoever. When he found out they were indeed serious, he decided to find another job.

2. Marianna took a job in a firm assuming she'd be given overtime. The first pay check, she found out she'd been "salaried" and there would be no overtime, but there would be bonuses. The benefits were excellent. She liked the people. She decided she could live with that.

3. Gianni took a job as a fundraiser. He found out within the first month he was expected to travel over a 400 mile radius regularly (which hadn’t been mentioned previously), and work most weekends as well as 40 hours at his desk. Gianni apologized to his wife, prepared his resume, and found a new job as soon as he could.


Appliances know when you've taken a new job. j.k. But I hear an awful lot of stories about things falling apart at home when someone takes a new job. Why? Murphy's Law, I guess. And while I teach optimism, as part of Emotional Intelligence, I think it's just best to optimistically anticipate riding through some bumps at home during your first few weeks on a new job.

Be optimistic about YOUR ABILITY TO COPE, not about LIVING IN A PERFECT WORLD.

It's like when you're having houseguests for Thanksgiving, and the whole extended family to your home for the big dinner. Yes, your dishwasher, garbage disposal, washing machine or dryer, or heating system, or some or all of these things will break. It's happened to me so many times, I just laugh. It takes less energy than crying. In fact it bolsters your immune system to laugh. See Rule No. One.


Mental and emotional preparation are the key to surviving the adjustment. Understand that if you’re feeling stressed, your immune system will be under duress. Do what you can to bolster it - eat right, exercise, stay healthy, get enough sleep. And most of all, don't over-react to it.

Understand that the reality of any situation rarely lives up to what was reported, or what your expectations were. Expect some things to be better than advertised, some worse, some the same. Ride it out. Give it time before you form your final opinions. If it turns out to be a "draw" that's okay.

At home, get the troops supporting you and the new situation, and cut yourself some slack on the home front. Enter the job if you can, well-prepared as to home and car repairs and wardrobe. Then relax about these things for some weeks, while you cope with the new job. Nothing short of real "emergencies" need the immediate attention you may be used to giving them. Even a lawn can go 2-3 weeks without the neighbors calling the Lawn Patrol. You can buy your "groceries" at the convenience store on the corner a few times without busting the budget. The spare bedroom will always be there to clean when you can get around to it.

Don't over-react, and even worse, don't clamp down.

When in a new situation, it's our "default" mode (if we're not mindful), to get rigid and want to apply order to the chaos. Many new situations in life, such as a new job or a new baby, simply don't lend themselves to that. Don't waste energy and stress your immune system further by getting rigid. Be willing to let some things go for a while, and to take a second, longer look at some of the things that surprise you you weren’t counting on.

The bottom line: Lose some battles in order to win the war. It's all about life balance.

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:  Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach & Consultant
: Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach & Consultant

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