10 Troubling Habits Veterans Struggle With As A Civilian

Transitioning from military to civilian life comes with its own challenges, especially when adapting habits learned in the military for new civilian workplaces. Many skills and behaviors from the military, like discipline and teamwork, are beneficial in any setting. However, some habits might not fit well in civilian jobs, which tend to be less structured and more varied.

Here, we have explored some of the common habits of veterans that might need adjustment. Our insights are based on thorough analyses of various online surveys from those who served. This list will guide veterans through understanding which military habits might be less effective in civilian workplaces and how to adjust them.

Too Much Swearing

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

In the military, swearing often acts as a stress reliever and a means of bonding among personnel. However, excessive swearing can be perceived as unprofessional and offensive in civilian workplaces.

Veterans transitioning to civilian jobs should be mindful of their language. They should understand that different settings require different forms of communication. Adapting their speech to suit more diverse environments not only helps in creating a respectful atmosphere but also enhances their professional image.

Expecting Civilian Respect

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Veterans might find it challenging to adapt to the level of anonymity that comes with civilian life, where their military achievements are not as widely recognized or celebrated. In the military, uniforms, and ranks readily signal one’s achievements and dedication. Civilians, however, are often unaware of these symbols and their significance. This can lead to unfair expectations and misunderstandings. Veterans should cultivate humility and patience. They should seek respect through their skills and contributions rather than their past titles.

Being Too Formal

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

The military’s formal protocols for addressing superiors do not directly translate to the civilian corporate culture. The civilian workplace often values a more relaxed communication style. This can create barriers between veterans and their civilian colleagues. Excessive formalities can be perceived as showing stiffness in a workplace. Veterans should attempt to embrace first-name bases where appropriate. They should also observe how others communicate in their new environment to better integrate socially and professionally.

Fear of Failure

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Military training emphasizes perfection because the stakes in combat are extraordinarily high. However, in civilian workplaces, failure is often seen as part of the innovation and learning process. Veterans should reframe their understanding of failure. It is important to recognize that making and correcting mistakes is crucial for growth and development. Cultivating a more forgiving attitude towards failure can help veterans adapt more quickly and effectively to civilian lifestyle.

Stick To Following Orders

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

The clear chain of command and the necessity to follow orders strictly are vital in the military. This however, can limit creativity and initiative in civilian jobs. Veterans might find themselves in roles that require critical thinking and a proactive approach, where questioning and refining processes are encouraged. It’s beneficial for veterans to develop comfort with voicing their opinions and contributing to strategic discussions. They can add value through their unique perspectives and experiences.

Dominating Juniors

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

If someone has worked as a high-ranked officer in the military, giving orders and expecting them to be fulfilled is part of the job. The military workforce involves a hierarchical and directive approach. However, this may not translate well into civilian workplaces that prioritize teamwork and equality. In a corporate workplace, dominating juniors to follow orders is considered rude. Veterans should focus on fostering an environment of mutual respect and collaboration. Understanding the value of diverse viewpoints and team dynamics can transform their approach to leadership in a positive way.

Expecting Workout Motivation

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

While the military mandates physical training as a daily routine, civilian workplaces generally do not. Though physical exercises are always encouraged, it is left to the choice of the individuals.

When not in the military, veterans should take personal responsibility to maintain their fitness. They must learn to integrate exercise into their daily routines without external prompts. Staying active not only helps in maintaining health but also aids in mental well-being. This is especially crucial during the transition to civilian life. Moreover, sharing fitness goals and activities can also be a great way to build friendships outside of a military structure.

Over-Reliance on Structure

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Military life is highly structured, with clear routines and schedules dictating daily activities. This level of regimentation doesn’t typically translate to civilian jobs. In a civilian environment, flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing priorities are valued.

Veterans may struggle with environments that are less predictable and require a more dynamic approach. It’s beneficial for them to learn how to operate effectively in settings where they may need to manage their own time and respond adaptively to less structured situations.

Difficulty in Expressing Vulnerability

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

In the military, showing toughness and resilience is often prioritized, and admitting weakness can sometimes be seen as a liability. This mindset can carry over into civilian life and lead to challenges. In a civilian workplace, expressing doubts or concerns is often important for personal growth. It helps in team collaboration as well. Veterans might benefit from understanding that in many civilian roles, vulnerability can lead to better support from colleagues and can foster a more trusting and open workplace culture.

Misinterpreting Non-Verbal Cues

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Military communication can be very direct, which serves well in high-stakes and clear-cut situations. When out of the military, non-verbal cues and subtler forms of communication are often just as important as the words spoken. Veterans may find it challenging to interpret these less explicit forms of communication initially. Improving emotional intelligence and actively learning to read body language and social cues can be incredibly beneficial.

Scroll to Top