I’ve recently been asked my advice on networking. Whilst I hate the idea of networking and I am far from an expert, I gave it some thought and decided that it was a lot simpler than people imagine. Take an interest in what others do, see if there is any way in which you can help them and treat them the way they would like to be treated.
I then boiled it down further and it’s simpler still, don’t be a dick.
I’ve spent nearly thirty years in the workplace and now work in creative circles and I have seen some horrendous behaviour. I’ve worked with people who are renowned for doing absolutely anything to progress their careers. One person would turn up early for meetings, claiming the seats next to him were taken and only free them up when senior managers arrived.
Another planned a house party, only inviting managers, in anticipation of getting a promotion to a management position. She didn’t get it. She is now in prison.
Time after time I’ve heard people talk about nothing but themselves in meetings, totally missing the point of why people were meeting in the first place.
This may give someone short term exposure but ultimately they are going to become undone.
We all want to be successful in our chosen career but do you really want to do it at the expense of others? Is it really worth selling your soul for a few extra quid in your pocket?
There’s a famous quote credited to Wilson Mizner “Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down.” It’s simple but true.
A number of years ago after an 18 hour shift a couple of us had a bit of a laugh with some Halloween decorations in the office. We moved a Frankenstein cut out so he adopted a teapot stance and added a speech bubble announcing that he was indeed, a little teapot. We thought it was hilarious, we’d been working for 18 hours, we were delirious. It was childish but it harmed nobody, damaged nothing and raised a smile for those who came in the next morning.
Our friend who hoarded seats for the bosses went to the senior manager like a bargain basement Miss Marple and announced that he knew who had done it and put us in the frame. Of course it was us, we were the only people in the building, everybody knew but nobody cared apart from him, thinking it would get him an extra rung up the ladder.
The next day after another long shift we took our revenge. Even more childish than the night before, we did a trick with his PC where we pressed a couple of keys to turn his display upside down. He had no idea how to fix it and inevitably kicked off, phoning IT and demanding they fix it as a priority. They said they couldn’t see a problem. Straight faced, looking straight at his upside down screen they said they didn’t know what his issue was. They even called a couple of other people in to look at it. The whole office were looking at his documents, words and images all upside down and claiming there was nothing wrong.
As everyone left to go back to their work, leaving him angry and confused, the office was in agreement. He was a dick.
Whilst the above example is incredibly childish, it does show that if you step on people to get where you want, they will stand back and laugh when you really need help.
When I gave the ‘Don’t be a dick’ advice, a friend pointed out that it was fairly good advice for life, not just networking and career advancement. She was right.
In a past life I worked in a call centre and got monumental amounts of abuse. It became a personal battle, if people were abusive, you were less likely to help them. The flip side was also true, someone being polite would have you going the extra mile to help them. I have never forgotten this when dealing with people in the service industry and it has served me well.
The last few weeks have seen the most divisive and hate filled political behaviour since the days of Thatcher. The EU referendum became an arena where facts no longer mattered; misdirection, innuendo and outright lies not only became acceptable, they became the only way forward.
I even took the step of removing myself from certain elements of social media because of the incessant spamming with angry rhetoric. I’m not planning on returning any time soon.
The fallout from the referendum has seen the implosion of both the Tories and Labour. The Tory leadership battle eventually settled by Andrea Leadsom sinking so low that Teresa May incredibly became the more human, caring option. The other ‘obvious’ candidates fell by the wayside after a policy of mutual self destruction.
The Labour Party is in turmoil with claims of bullying and intimidation on both sides and it’s hard to see a way out.
Whilst politicians are well known for acting like bairns at the best of times, it appears that every single one of them has turned into a spoilt toddle and nobody wants to be the adult to bring them into line.
This behaviour isn’t contained to these shores. Trump in America has brought a scary brand of politics into the spotlight and we’ve reached the point where the public are shooting police and police robots are killing the public. The world has gone mad. I couldn’t write a story like this, nobody would believe it.
I think it will get worse before it gets better but people have gone through angry and are now getting tired. Ask any parent what it’s like having young children fighting all the time and they’ll tell you it wears you down, gets to the point where you feel like snapping. The world is at breaking point and it’s mainly because everyone is acting like dicks.
The next time you attend a meeting or get involved in a political debate online or even just speak to someone in a call centre, think about if you are being a dick. If you are, try being nice instead, it might work in your favour.