Workplace War Games

Now that I’m retired, I think back on the work days that used to drive me crazy. There always is a lot to put up with when you work; let’s face it, a lot of people crammed into one space all day can be hard on the nerves. My attitude toward work was to get the job done as well as possible, go the extra mile when possible, be honest, be polite; and most of all, don’t be a pain in the butt.

But when I worked for one woman, I found out a whole lot more about being in business than I wanted to. She told me all about ‘work place sabotage and how to get someone else blamed for something you did or how to get a promotion over another person. It was like walking on the dark side of the moon.

Here are some of the things I learned from her that I could never have done because I am a terrible liar (I crack under the slightest pressure like a soft-boiled egg):

  • How to look as if you’re working late (or came in early): Always leave an extra coat on the back of your chair, a purse on the floor, a cup of coffee on the desk and leave the computer on. This gives this impression that you are still at work (or came in earlier than anyone else), just away from your desk for a little while.
  • How to knock out the competition when you want a raise or new position: When vying for a new position, do your best to knock out the competition. Her weapon of choice was this: when she had a cold, she kept her used tissues. When everyone else had left for the day, she would rub the used tissues on her competitors’ phones so that they would catch cold and have to stay home. (Yes, I know; I’m gagging a little as I write this.)
  • How to cozy up to the people who can help you get where you want to go in the company: Find out what the highest-ranking person likes and doesn’t like, and go from there. If he/she loves M&Ms, then always bring them some. If they are partial to a tall soy latte mid-morning, stop by the person’s desk with a fresh one. Offer to take on a project that his/her department needs done ASAP. Find the right person in your own organization to do it; give it to the high-ranking person and then claim it as your own.
  • How to get rid of someone you don’t like: If there is someone you don’t like in the organization, start rumors based on a half-ounce of truth, covered with pounds of lies. For example, if she saw one of her targeted “I don’t like him/her just because” people, she would drop a word in the ear of someone who had the power to fire that person. The conversation might go something like this: “oh, by the way, I happened to see so-and-so looking through files on something that isn’t his/her project. I’m sure that they weren’t ‘up to anything,’ but I just thought that you might want to know. Just in case.” That little ploy inevitably planted a tiny seed of doubt in the person’s mind, and usually the target either got reassigned to another department or fired.

It’s all low-level espionage to be sure, but over the time I worked with her a lot of people mysteriously disappeared. Silly me, I just assumed that people were there to work, not serve the ‘alien overlords.’ I’m so glad to be retired!


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