JournalismPakistan.com October 27, 2014
One of the more insidious games played in offices is called ‘damning with faint praise.’ What you do is destroy the other person’s chances of advancing by being nice as you plunge the professional dagger into his back.
Why it is successful is because it is easy to do and because the world and its uncles is very gullible and invariably goes with the flow. Labels are the weapons you use.
There is that slippery tag used with disdain. Workaholic. It is almost a condemnation by one’s colleagues, as if by keeping long hours the individual is letting the side down by showing up his peers. What could he possibly be doing except sucking up to the bosses and making the rest of us look bad. You keep calling someone a workaholic, he thinks you are on his side but what you are doing is creating the image of an idiot who needs to spend twice the time to do half the work. Workaholics on staff get left behind because everyone is ganged up against them.
A relatively subtle damning is to call someone meticulous. That’s like saying he is a complete 100 percent 24 carat pain in the neck who cannot see the wood for the trees and only exists to make life miserable for others in the office with his passion for the nitty gritty. He’ll be sidetracked, bet on it.
Off and on we have people in the office who are known as whizz-kids. They are usually younger than the mean age and come recommended by VIPs. It is automatic to gang up against them and then conspire to undermine their new ideas with sneering and exuberant malice. Many an incandescent idea has been extinguished by the blow from this in house agreement to maintain the status quo. So, if you find yourself being called a whizz-kid, watch it, they have your number and it could soon be up.
Up and coming: Best way to slow down his progress.
Has the potential: Lateral promotion is mandated.
If only he had a little more gravitas: Means nothing but you have nailed him.
Needs time to improve his leadership skills: Confined to the second fiddle forever.
Keep an eye on him: Yes sure, why not sack him today, keep an eye on him is the best way to praise and damn and even pretend you are his mentor.
Flexible is another insult. What it means is that the person sways with the wind and cannot be relied upon in a crunch. Completely spineless would mean very much the same.
Then, of course, we occasionally refer to those we see as career-minded individuals and what we are really saying is that they are dangerous because they will let down anyone to advance their progress. Don’t trust that lot, my friend, they’ll sell you and then some, all they are interested in is getting ahead by hook or by crook. No way there is even a chance that they just want to do well and, to do well, they bring a certain diligence to their work. We resent their dedication and will make them pay for it.
A step above is the person who is accused of being ambitious. One would imagine we all are but those that fall on the way like battle weary troops and give up hate those whose staying power is longer. So, they turn ambition into a dirty word, as if you were not a team player and were strongly into betrayal because you were marching to your own drumbeat. Ambitious chappie, watch him, he could spell trouble.
Go on, check out which category you have been put in and then prepare your defence.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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