By Rachel Haberkern
Working in a 9-5 environment (which is actually 8-6, let’s be honest) is often times comical. We have created an entirely new way to speak to each other which can only be described as aggressively passive. Anyone out there that says “oh, my work environment is great! We communicate well, get along, and support each other” is a big fat liar and likely the one causing the problems for everyone else. Per my last email Susan, get your head out of your ass and see that you’re creating zero value by jumping in to piggyback off of what I already said two hours ago!
I get it, we work to be able to order delivery multiple nights a week and buy those 3 drinks we said we weren’t going to have on a Wednesday night. We aren’t doing this for the passion of being in corporate America. So what do we do? We make it interesting and push the boundaries. Not really interested in working that day? “Let me circle in Amanda to advise.” Or “let’s circle back on that next week.” Oh you asked me four questions, I’m only going to answer one to put it back in your court to figure out. Genius. Want to show your worth? Josh just sent an email out to the team with deliverables. Chime in and say “thanks Josh. Natalie, please send through that document once updated.” As if Natalie didn’t already know that was the task that Josh outlined. Want to really fuck with people? Send an email out with no subject line just to keep them guessing. Or a subject line that is so ambiguous that they won’t know what this important email is about. Or a personal favorite, while on an email chain about schedule, just throw in a comment about the IT consultant to completely derail the whole thing.
Not only are there things we do to keep it interesting, we say the most ridiculous phrases to sound smarter. To say you are busy and not available try, “I can’t, I’m putting out fires.” What a rude way to express your lack of efficiency by putting down firefighters. If you don’t agree with what your coworker is saying but want to let them down easy it’s, “let’s play devils advocate.” Want to say fuck off but you work for the most corporate of companies try using, “help me understand.” Finally, when comparing information, two excellent phrases to show just how s-m-r-t you are, say “is this apples to apples?” or “it’s 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.” Wow, so glad you spent 4+ years in college to be able to speak this way.
While I would like to think it’s possible to work with people that won’t drive me to my wits’ end on a constant basis, it’s not going to happen overnight. Let’s all take an inventory of our abysmal corporate habits and make small changes. Then, maybe one day that 10 minute call that was frantically scheduled last minute could have just been an email. Thanks in advance!