Friday, July 26, 2013

DotTeeVee: How to Play Office Politics --

Are you stuck in a job where neither nepotism or special preferences are helping you? Yes, of course you are. You could always work hard and be the best possible employee. After that fails, it's time to aware yourself on the exciting game of office politics. Think of it as the victim group you create for yourself and consists only of you, the gossip and character assassination set aside or the big rewards that come when you embrace that inner sociopath. The only problem is you'll probably make a mess of it and be one of those criminals that gets caught and punished instead of the usual case where they get big prizes.

Luckily, there's a video! Like a nine to five Borgia you can now unlock the secrets of Byzantine maneuvering, explained in terms so simple and patronizing there's no chance of screwing this up. Big promotion, here we come!

Unless the boss has a kid that also works there or there's a government mandate to promote a handicapped, female gay Aleutian islander. Than you're boned, sorry. 

I should also point out that this video is for the "health care" professional, so I'm guessing they'll be lots of advice about cultivating an atmosphere of distrust by constantly making oblique references to the coming "Obama Care" disaster.

Cheery corporate video music plays as we meet "Ann," a woman who looks like she does her tanning at a New Mexico nuclear testing site. She also has the bad habit of speaking in what I call the "Olive Garden Waitress Voice." You know what I mean. Way too much simulated cheerfulness and ersatz enthusiasm, coupled with a healthy dose of condescension. Who better to guide us through the minefield of health care-related office politics? 

"I'm Ann and I'll be teaching YOU how to sow that discord!

She concedes that politics can leave one feeling like a "pawn" or even "collateral damage." Man, that movie was horrible. I did like the scene where Arnold goes nuts and starts smashing computers with a ball bat for some reason. "Ja, heir ist your co-lat-er-awl dam-ige!" Doing that probably won't help you get that big raise, by the way.

That Weiner creep should be joining you here in Sex Prison very soon.

It's a dirty game, but we're told we're going to "have to play." You're already in the sewer, health care professional, now it's time to get dirty. She talks about "stakeholders" which caused involuntary cringing and then she mentions "regulators." Yeah, if only. Sadly, she's doesn't follow that with references to not being a "geek off the street" and being "handy with the disclosure of information, earn your keep."

Instead we get more patronizing language. The key is mastering some simple techniques. You don't want to jump right into using elaborate mindwashing interventions without a sound base. First rule: don't make crazy remarks. Yup, no more "Man, that Hitler had some good ideas." To help make this complicated concept a little more clear she suggests you might bash a university only to find out your boss actually went there! Whoops! Get ready for that "Braxton Community College" snob to land on your hopes and dreams like a cartoon anvil.

How dare you criticize DMU! 

We even get a "glass breaking" sound effect. I guess the needle skipping across a record sound wasn't available. Sadly Stone Cold Steve Austin doesn't come out and give Ann the stunner, like I was expecting. Instead our lecturer declares this hypothetical situation to be "Awkward!" The suggested alternative to ranting about your extreme political views and hatred of anyone even slightly different than you? Yes, shutting the hell up. Also try to get along with others. Man, this stuff is gold! No more walking through the prenatal ward with a chunk of particle board on my shoulder and daring co-workers to "knock it off and see what happens!" 

It's a madhouse! A madhouse!!!

We should also stay out of the "X-Ray tech's personal issues." What he does with that machine, lead vests and the more naive interns is none of your business.

Because we live in a glorious future of flying cars and so on we must now address "electronic mail." I was anticipating a painful reference to "netiquette" with grim resolve, but incredibly she doesn't use that particular term. The advice we do get is don't send messages while "angry." I would also include not sending them after washing down a fistful of pills with vodka, as painful personal experience has very gradually taught me.

"Assume your boss does not want to see your homemade fetish videos."

Just calm down, basically. We should imagine our supervisor actually reading a message that consists of a blurry JPEG of your bikini area and ten pages of rambling threats. Instead, please bottle up that rage. You know, this whole video is one giant advertisement for the benefits of not being yourself.

In case we're still not getting it, we're now told to "listen." This is crazy enough to work. "Some things are better left unsaid," says Ann. Various violence fantasies about your immediate supervisor probably fall into that category.

What if the atmosphere is so toxic that even not directly expressing my many personal pathologies isn't helping? Fear not, there's job listing on some sort of website! Next time be respectful, listen to others, send professional e-mails and succeed for sure! Assuming the health care worker in question isn't stealing pills to feed an addiction or accidentally pulling the plug on the "bad ones," or something, of course. It wouldn't hurt to be related to someone, either.

Aaron Zehner's first novel The Foolchild Invention is available in e-book format at and Barnes & Noble. 

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