Sunday, April 15, 2007

Roll With The Punches

"All around me are familiar faces, worn out places, worn out faces. Bright and early for their daily races, going nowhere, going nowhere." -- Tears for Fears, Mad World

Office politics is one unfortunate game that we all have to participate in at least once in our lives -- and I've learned over the past few years that the size of the organization we're in isn't always directly proportional to the amount and degree of office politics present. As a matter of fact, sometimes it seems like it's inversely proportional that it's borderline ridiculous. It doesn't quite make sense.

The way I see it: the bigger the company, the more employees there are... therefore, there are more people doing the same job and cutting the time a job gets completed, thus giving people more time to muck around and to discuss sordid issues that generally make the workplace a living nightmare! However, it seems to be that no matter how busy we are and no matter how snowed under we are with work, we evidently will always have the time to make other people's lives much more difficult than it truly needs to be by playing the frivolous game of office politics.

Raise your hands if you think that theory needs to get posted on big billboards all over the world.

I liken it to a plague -- no one likes it but it's hard to get rid of. And even if we have a vague idea on how it began, there's really no way for us to confirm it. And ultimately, we all have to live with it even if it means we all know that we die in the end. I never understood why the educational system bothered to contain high school within 4 years when in truth, high school stretches to our professional lives just dubbed in more glamorous terms *cough* office politics *cough* We're all basically playing the same high school games just with better dress sense, more cash in our pockets and desks with these horrid little things called computers. However, we have no recess, no class breaks and no free pudding during lunch. So maybe in some aspects, high school life was a tad better than our professional life.

The thing with working is that we all do it for one thing: the money. Surely there are a few lucky sods who enjoy what they do (bless them!) but at the end of the day, we all have bills to pay. And it's bad enough that we have to endure working for at least 8 hours a day (*snort* 12 hours is the new 8 hours!), straining our physical senses and forming flat tushies from our not-very-ergonomic swivel chairs. The last thing we need are unnecessary obstacles that get in the way of us finishing our work and getting home while the sun is still up. For instance, attending pointless and long-winded meetings, brown-nosing with the higher-ups whom we have no idea how they got there in the first place, fending off bitches and assholes who don't understand that they're only making themselves look petty and childish by doing so (and not to mention giving us endless migraines), and avoiding more idiots who nourish their souls by playing god over others.

And the funny thing is -- those abovementioned people all have IQs the same size of their shoes (may it be in American, Italian or British standards). To make matters a little simpler, we're all essentially busy dodging the mentally-incapacitated people at work just so we can complete our jobs as efficiently and diligently as we could. And not to mention, so we can get the hell out of there before our brain cells get infested with maggots.

I mean, how insulting would it be to get corrected by someone who can't explain why the international date line exists? And by someone who doesn't realize that Europe isn't a country?

See, back in school, we're all placed in different ranks according to our grades and marks. The higher our grades are, the more we are revered and recognized. We get protected by those numbers and we knew that they speak of us quite accurately and fairly. Whereas at work, no matter how good our accomplishments are and no matter how hard we work, we will be with the dogs forever if we don't succumb to the filthy game of office politics. There are the good players and there are those who choose to take the high road. And there are the clever few who manage to do both. Saying that it's unfair isn't even the beginning of it.

Then again, remember, the plague! It doesn't discriminate whom it kills...

Honestly, there should be some sort of index on how well we handle office politics -- and it's also something that we should be able to put proudly on our resumes. I think that working is 30% doing the job and 70% surviving the workplace. It's really being able to get through shark-infested waters and emerging bright and shiny no matter how close we were to getting our hands and legs devoured.

The good thing with high school is that we graduate and we get to bigger and better places -- and the fact that it actually ends! However, with work and office politics, it just gets bigger... and worse!


Blogger Another Twentysomething said...

The the margin of success in office politics is measured in lunch dates alone, office party social circles who welcome you and the ability of the boss to pick you out in a crowd. The secret, I've found, is not to be the one discussed, not to be the one discussing, but the one seemingly validating it through hinted smiles and nods for the people who do participate. Like Eleanor Roosevelt said, small minds discuss people, avergae minds discuss events and great minds discuss ideas. Food for thought.

11:28 PM  
Anonymous Kyla Bea said...

I agree with Another 20something and in my experience with office politics, being present but not contributing is one of the best ways to be escape looking like someone who's judging everyone for gossiping, and to avoid being pegged as a gossiper yourself. For me, finding a couple people who have similar interests to you and who are not interested in the drama was always a safe haven from the gossip.

There will always be people talking about others in a work place, taking it and sometimes them with a grain of salt goes a long way.

12:21 AM  
Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

In whatever little 2 years of office experience I have, I had freshly joined along with a bunch of other people like me, and therefore was saved from the 'office gossip' per se, because we were too busy with work or our own banter. But I suppose that larger offices provide more potential candidates for gossip, and hence they beget more. By the way, 20-something's response was really good (along with the post, of course) :)

2:53 AM  
Blogger Princess Banter said...

Hi guys -- yes very true, isn't it? If only everyone truly minds their own business, then the world becomes a simpler place to live in :)

Another 20something -- well said and I fully subscribe to that! I think another key is to somehow be able to ignore those people who maliciously find delight in gossipping about other people too.

Kyla Bea -- truly that friends in every form always serves as a refuge to us :) However, I've gathered some comments from friends that it's difficult as well to not be defensive against office politics -- but I agree with you that it can be a trap that can bring entangle us in the complicated web of office gossip :)

Sudipta -- Yeah, that seems to be the trend that I've been observing. The bigger the place, the more wolves there are the prowl the place. It's just up to you to manipulate the situation to your advantage -- which surely is no easy feat.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Keshi said...

my office is like home to me. so u can imagine how happy Im :)


12:45 PM  
Blogger XioniX said...

Office politics eh!!! Wonder wat inspired dat thought... :)

I have to say that you present the world a slight shade darker than what "I" believe it to be.

Do you honestly belive, that one who doesnt play dirty politics cant get ahead purely on the basis of merit?

Its a sad day when people honestly start believin myth's such as this and choose this road (their only - is it towards success)

4:49 PM  
Blogger Princess Banter said...

Keshi -- Love it, savor it, cherish it... you're one of the lucky few! I'm happy for you :)

Xionix -- Believe it or not, I used to think that catty office politics only resided in TV shows and movies... until I moved to Asia and started working here permanently. The competitiveness of the people are just outstanding. Unfortunately though, not everyone has the high level of ethics I stubbornly believed they had... something I learned after getting burned repetitively. I'd still like to think that a professional haven still exists :) As I always try to sport rose-tinted glasses...

4:56 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Your comment:- If only everyone truly minds their own business, then the world becomes a simpler place to live in :)

depends who you are and what your intentions are.

7:25 PM  
Blogger confessing7girl said...

very good posting and i love the lyrics from mad world..
thanx for ur visit!!

11:07 PM  
Blogger alpine path said...

I have no idea so far about office politics but I can relate to high school stuff. If it is going to be the same, where does the notion of people growing up come in? And, in fact, what does growing up mean if there is no extra ounce of maturity coming in?

5:37 PM  

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