Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Surviving the Corporate Game

I have only recently joined the corporate world after a LONG bout of unemployment and contract work and HOLY MOLY! It's SO weird. I'm not talking about an office/workplace with a business casual kind of vibe. Nope....this place is suit and tie five days a week. It's such a brand new culture to me that I've had a little trouble assimilating. I regard them with the curiosity and fascination of an anthropologist who has just discovered a lost tribe from the mythological depths of some historical valley.

So I've been picking up a few things here and there and decided to make a list of things I could do to facilitate my ability to fit in.....if I so choose. Let's face it though....most of these people are assholes and I don't really care if they like or talk to me. It's just fun to study them for now.

1. Keep hair tidy and freshly cut. These people hate mess. My hair is rarely in any kind of order, so this is proving difficult.

2. Wear matching shit in boring colors. They key words here are SLACKS, BEIGE, GRAY, IVORY, BLOUSE....basically anything your grandma would look at you in and say how nice you look. Bright colors frighten them unless you opt for a "powersuit", in which case, red is clearly the way to go.

3. BIG fake smile....wear it ALL the time. Even when there is bad news or someone just crop-dusted your cubicle. You can still look like you want to hurt people or cry with your eyes though. There are no rules as far as eyes are concerned.

4. When anyone with a real office (not sitting in a cube) makes a joke or says something vaguely silly, laugh as loud and hard as possible. (Don't fall down or out of your chair)

5. Decorate your cubicle with ONLY the following acceptable items in moderation: kids photos, sport paraphernalia (keep a keen eye for what's the most popular in the office), kid drawings, work-related papers and calendars. THAT IS IT! Don't put up things corporate folk don't understand (ie, art, pictures of your favorite musicians, philosophers, scientists, etc..) Stick to family and sports and motivational posters.

6. Wear expensive clothing. It can't just be must also be expensive. They know the difference.

7.Make small talk while passing people or getting coffee. Some people may ignore you, but this is okay. It just means you need to seek them out more so that they can see you genuinely care about them and want to get to know them. Small talk can include such pleasantries as "How was your weekend, Phil?" "That's a lovely tie." "End of the month....what more can I say, amirite?"(I call all the men Phil, Robert or Matt as those are the most common names here according to the phone list and the odds are in my favor.)

8. Try and talk about work as much as possible. They all seem really into what they do and focus on the most boring conversations about new policies and company infrastructure. Research some of the most boring areas in different sections of the company so you can "wow" others with your comprehensive knowledge just by using blanket statements. This works for sports talk also.

9. At company gatherings, hang back for a while and gauge who is the loudest/drunkest/wildest person there. Buddy up with them. You will look calm and composed by comparison.

10. I'm still learning the ropes at this stuff....but here are some things I have definitely learned NOT to do:
don't rap old gangster tunes while making coffee, don't "boop" sales reps on the nose, don't donate blood during the work day (especially if you act a little drunk when light-headed), don't try to make up special handshakes with your lunchbox twin (actually, you should probably not even acknowledge that you are lunchbox twins even if you are and you think it's awesome.), and lastly, don't get stuck in a bathroom stall with a broken lock so that you have to crawl out from under the stall to get out. In retrospect, these things may have not helped me to assimilate.

Go forth with confidence that my simple rules will help you climb that corporate ladder! (They don't have any ACTUAL ladders at my work, so I'm not really sure where that saying comes from.)

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