Wednesday, May 02, 2007

YOUR 15 MINUTES: Cubicle Survial

Find yourself dodging monotonous memorandums, mandatory department meetings, phone calls and just work in general? Sometimes find yourself talking to your good friend, “Mr. Wall”? At least he understands you. He’s courteous enough to hang your photos on the wall and block your neighbor in the cubicle next door.

Here is an interesting attempt from a cubicle dweller like myself, at how one can survive in an office without committing homicide:

Survive it #1: Don’t mention anything you wouldn’t want on tv or the radio

Be careful disclosing information you don’t want broadcasted; girlfriends/boyfriends, divorces, crazy x’s, mix-matched socks, cavities, embarrassing moments, high-school yearbooks etc… Spilling the beans about these kinds of things will be detrimental to your survival. Think fast, but talk slow.

Survive it #2: Keep the good news to yourself

“Were giving you the raise.”
"You’re being promoted, now go clean out your desk.”
“I am sorry I have to lose one of my BEST workers.”
“Don’t tell anybody, were going to let you handle the assignment.”
“Your new salary is (computing) $51.23 an hour.”

These all seem like joyous things to disclose amongst your co-workers. Theoretically, they should be more than happy for you. Unfortunately, the competitive forces of our society won’t allow for you to be happy. Since were all so fixated on getting to the top, keep these good rewards to yourself. Stay humble and smile, but don’t let them know why you got called into the office during customer call time.

Survive it #3: Watch what you say and where you say it

Ok, so lets say you do have a few work chums from marketing; Mrs. Briggs, Daniel, Felix and Old man Alan. Every Monday morning you five huddle in a circle by the cafeteria and discuss the football weekend or other information. Daniel is the loudest, “YOU KNOW, I CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHY SHEILA GOT PROMOTED AND I AM STILL WORKING IN $#$%^ MARKETING. THAT IS BELIEVEABLE! ANYWAY, ISN’T THAT A BUNCH OF CRAP!? WELL, ISN’T IT?”
Daniel is right, but he sure is loud. Especially since the president’s office is right next door. You take a small peep around the corner and to your amazement his door is wide open and he’s reading (pretending he didn’t hear a thing). You turn back to face Daniel, “WELL ISN’T THAT SOME CRAP OR NOT?”

Daniel has asked you a question, will you answer?

Survive it #4: Avoid what’s the “IN” thing

Gossip is IN, the spread of rumors is IN, a rebellious attitude is IN, an office prank to the boss every month is IN, brownnosing you way to the top is IN, lying through your teeth is IN, dating the office hottie you work with is IN.

The “IN” thing may seem like the way to go, but those who go with the IN thing, eventually get INTO trouble or get INTO hot water. Listen, that hottie has more boyfriends than the night has stars. Be you, be cool and survive.

Survive it #5: Wash your hands when you aren’t alone in the bathroom

You really should wash them regardless! But I guess if you feel cold water and soap isn’t your thing I can’t push you. Just at least wash them when someone comes busting in the door to take the stall next to you. Fail to do this and the next thing you know, you’ll be the fist-to-fist gesture. Check your zipper before you leave out!

Survive it #6: Take notes

They monitor your internet usage, screen your personal phone calls, and view your internal email; all in effort to find out who’s doing what. The same way a manager can observe you, you can do the exact same. Take notes in one-on-one meetings, take notes when management delivers a low blow, take notes on how long it takes for positive reinforcement from your supervisor. These few jotted notes may come in handy someday.

Survive it #7: Don’t leave fancy pens and pencils in your utensil tray after hours.

Yes, there are actual people who go around and look to steal from your workstation. It isn’t a fairy pen stealer either, it isn’t Santa Clause, it didn’t mysteriously vanish, yes it was here a day ago and no you are not going crazy. Daniel has it.

Survive it #8: Go the extra mile when necessary

That extra small step to staple and bind those reports, that extra step to proofread those critical spelling errors, that extra step to satisfy consumers or help other staff members is your ticket to elevation. Show professional courtesy, be respectful, listen and speak intelligently. These are wonderful things to do, but don’t go so far as to be exploited by those around you.

Survive it #9: Don’t show emotion

Supervisor says:
“You’re now responsible for distributing everyone’s paychecks.”
“Were going to have to cut the department’s pay for budget purposes.”
“I am sending you to Accounting for the day to help stuff envelopes.”
“I need you to come in on Saturday morning for the next month.”
“I am sorry but you won’t be able to eat lunch today. It’s too busy.”

All of these sound like threatening statements and they are! Who wants to skip that Lasagna lunch you have waiting in the fridge? It’s most important that you show no emotion when these things take place. Body language and facial expressions say are quicker to speak than words are. Nothing is more liable to hold you back than poor and unresponsive gestures.

Survive it #10: Don’t bring in an appetizing lunch

Think your left over Nobu will be a good lunch? WRONG. The good smelling lunch will only draws the office sharks. This tasty dish will bring comments like, "oh, what's that?", "someone's lunch smells good.", "where did you go last night?" Pack up a cracker and some lettuce is you must bring a lunch. Or go to your local deli and eat there. This will avoid any potential awkward banter.

If one could follow these “10 survive it” rules, it’s expected that success will be your calling. If not, you may not have to worry about lasting there much longer or you may just find yourself working in Customer relations until retirement.


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