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Q&A: Curb my enthusiasm?

Hi there. As a diplomat, I expected to move mountains. Even though I work for only limited time in each country (typically 2 or 3 years), I like to have a positive impact wherever I go. Unfortunately, it seems like my colleagues are not big fans of all the work I’m doing and the goals I’m setting. What am I doing wrong?

Dear Anonymous – I’m not trying to mean here, but your colleagues are probably not annoyed by your work ethic but by your egomania. It doesn’t matter that you think you have good ideas – if you’re making everybody else unhappy you’re unlikely to make the positive impact you were hoping for.

Instead of worrying about victories that only vindicate you and look good on your resume, take the time to look around and find a situation or person who could truly use your help. Remember that small changes can create major impacts down the line.

Still – there is no need to give up on your desire to change the world for the better. Your time in any given place is relatively short, but you can actually achieve a lot if you want. You probably have a good head on your shoulders, which means all you have to do is use it.

It’s pointless to throw spaghetti at the walls hoping something will stick.

It’s a much better idea to recognize the fact that your colleagues know the local situation better than you and spend most of your time listening to their insights. If you do this well, people will praise you for years to come, even when you’re off to your new assignment in Guinea-Bissau or – if you play your cards well – Paris.



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