Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How to Fake Your Way through Your First Day at Work and Every Day after That

Nothing beats the first day at a new job, if only because no one presumes you’ll get any real work done yet. But soon you will be expected to recognize the names and faces all 350 employees you met in the first five minutes of your first morning. You will be expected to not only know how to do your job but also be able to explain it to your replacement should things not work out by week’s end. And you will be expected to know that there is no such thing as “Take Your Cat and Dog to Work Day.”

From the very moment you walk into your new place of business you have to watch your every step. That’s because employment isn’t a right. It’s a privilege. And the difference between a privilege and a right is that a privilege can be taken away from you just like that while a right can, well, also be taken away from you, but usually only by way of a coup or White-Out.

The point is, having a job means you’re on borrowed time. And the only way to beg for more time is to keep your mistakes to a minimum. And the only way to do that is to remember that a place of business—like a public swimming pool—has rules, and if you don’t follow the rules you’ll wind up floating face-down dead in three feet of water. And the only way to help your loved ones or state-appointed counselor avoid that is to heed the following:

• Never convene a department meeting by saying, “Where my bitches at?”

• Remember that in business there is no such thing as “a friendly pat on the head.”

• Develop a comfortable handshake and keep it consistent. At no point take the opportunity to gently tickle the other person’s palm.

• When attending a business dinner make certain to begin eating only after everyone has parked.

• Happy people make a happy workplace, not the other way around. Save your sobbing for the commute home.

• If you find yourself saying, “The Hooters really blew it with their second album” you have strayed too far from business conversation.

• Never take personal calls, respond to emails from friends or use instant messaging to keep in contact with family. Instead, every so often wave from your office window in the hopes a loved one may be on the street at that very moment, looking up.

• If you're having problems at work, don’t express negative thoughts to coworkers for fear of creating a tense office environment. Instead, relieve tension by starting an argument at home.

• Overcome any flaws that might set you back as a public speaker with dancers.

• When maintaining eye contact with a fellow employee, avoid any gaze that may be best described as “penetrating,” “smoldering” or “bloodshot.”

• Office hallways are only for going to and returning from meetings, not for personal visits. Should nature call simply keep telling yourself, "Only six more hours to go, only six more hours to go…”

• Avoid making personal attacks. Instead, couch your comments in helpful terms, such as “What can we do about your hairlip?”

• If you find yourself running late for work, roll your car several times down a steep hill. After all, the only adequate excuse for tardiness is an exceptional excuse.

• Eat all meals at your desk, including Thanksgiving dinner and Sunday brunch.

• Remember, working late shows you can't manage your time correctly. However, leaving on time shows that you're not really committed to your job. Best to just stay at the office full-time, but change into pajamas and turn on the conference room TV around 9 PM.