Wednesday, July 30, 2008

top 10 Phrases you don't want to hear

As humans, we are characterized by the ability to think above our instinct and the ability to communicate. Because of the ability to communicate, we tend to ignore our instinct. Mothers of course still have a hold on their maternal instinct and there is of course womens intuition. Guys don't have any of this unless they become gritty flat foot cops. for the most part, our process is much more simple. Eat, Drink, Sleep. The order is immaterial. Our communication equalizes this. It allows women to impart their intuition to men and it allows men to discount that intuition and later apologize or gloat whichever the case may be.

This communication has allowed for continued nuance and innuendo in our conversation making it more and more confusing for us to use words for their intended meaning and not some ulterior motive. To this end, I give you the top 10 phrases that give us an instinctive kick in the pants. At best they make us pay attention, at worst, they inspire a fight or flight response.

10. 'The Doctor would like you to come in to discuss your test results' - Why can't they just tell you over the phone? Do you really have to pack everything up and go in? Obviously if they want you to come in, it's not nothing. Nothing can be told over the phone by a secretary. But you have to go to med school to break bad news.

9. 'I'm really sorry sir, but there is nothing I can do' - This can sometimes be translated into 'I'm glad there isn't anything I can do because it would take effort to help you. It's a real do nothing phrase. If the person really can't help you, it's probably evident. The only reason to use this phrase is if you CAN help, but you are looking for some flimsy excuse to NOT help.

8. 'Can I talk to you in my office for a minute?' - The ONLY reason that management needs offices is to have a private place to reprimand/fire people. That's it. Sure, they have conference calls and the random interview, but they can do that nearly anywhere. The office is the official Spanking room. The only reason they want to talk to you in their office, is so the other employees don't hear the screams. Oddly enough though, this CAN work in reverse. When you've had enough of a particular companies brand of crap, YOU can say 'Hey, can I talk to you in your office for a minute?' Of course the manager isn't going to get fired by a peon like you, BUT he might really need you for this upcoming project and can't afford to lose you, OR you are calling him in to complain about a co-workers toe-nail clippings that seem to find their way onto your mouse-pad and you would like them DNA tested. So, the manager OFFICE is a bad place no matter which side is using it.

7. 'Time for family counsel' - This one is personal. When I was growing up my dad would yell this down the stairs on any given Sunday night. The idea was that we all exchanged ideas on the direction for the family in an open forum. The reality was the kids screwed up again and we were going to get another tongue lashing. This tongue lashing was positioned neatly in the middle of one program we loved to watch on sunday and would likely bleed right into the other program. We hated it. We would feign deafness, illness, or maybe death. It would avail us nothing.

6. 'I don't really know how to put this, but...' - So then say it lame-o. I don't really know how to put this, but you are lame. The only purpose for that phrase is to give your next one some extra kick as it heads for the victims stomach. To illustrate, lets fill in that blank and see which one doesn't belong. I don't really know how to say this but...
a). I was the one that told mom where your "comic book" collection was
b). I ran over your dog
c). You won the publishers clearinghouse sweepstakes.
Can you guess which one doesn't belong? I think you can.

5. 'We've recieved a directive from corporate and we need to make some hard decisions' - The company blow off. It's not OUR fault that some of YOU (and not us) will be fired, It's Big Bad Corporate. THEY are the bad guys here, not us, if it were up to us, we would all work here forever. Even you Fred, no matter how bad you smell.

4. 'Our company policy is __________' - The blank there should be filled in with 'A really convenient thing for us to hide behind. You see we all just showed up and the company was here with nobody to run it. We asked really nice and the company said 'Since you guys look like really cool suit and tie folks that apparently have something large and uncomfortable invading your backsides, I will let you manage me. But be careful! I have a series of policies that are IRON CLAD and can never be broken. As long as you agree to that. C'mon In!

3. 'Mr./Mrs. _____ This is officer ______ from the police department' - At worst a family member has died, but more likely, your son or daughter just got caught underage at a frat bender. Along with this category is the phrase 'This is ______ from the Internal Revenue Service' but the truth is, you'll get a lot of mail from them before they actually call you.

2. 'I've got good news and bad news' - No you don't, you have bad news. Not only do you have bad news, but you have bad news that affects me, but probably not you. The good news is just your lame attempt at humor and is usually punctuated by some kind of good news like 'You still have your health' the bad news is 'The IRS just garnisheed 50% of your wages'. The only good thing about this phrase is that it does spawn some pretty funny jokes from time to time. But amateurs should not try to use this phrase. It's not funny when you do it.

1. 'We need to talk' - There is no case in which this is good. This phrase is never followed by 'I have 20 thousand dollars that I'm gonna have to give you' or 'I've decided that we just aren't seeing enough action movies' (for the guys, the corollary of course is 'I've decided that we aren't seeing enough Colin Firth at the movies') This is nearly always followed by something like 'It just isn't working out, we need to see other people' or 'We've decided to go in another direction regarding your employment'. For those of you keeping score, the reason this one is separate from the more auspicious number 8 is because unlike being said in an office, this version of the phrase is usually said in public and away from sharp objects.

Tune in again!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Top 10 ways to get fired or get a raise

It looks like the economy is in an official slowdown and some might even call it a recession (but it isn't officially that yet). Whatever it is, Companies are looking to tighten the old belt even further. Back when I worked in corporate Amerika, I noticed that there was a definite pattern to both the people that were getting let go (myself included) and the people that were getting raises. Some people are looking to climb that corporate ladder, while others are looking to survive in corporate cultures that at best could be characterized as the RAT RACE.

For both of you I offer the top 10 ways to get fired/Pastureized/Overtime OR given a promotion/raise/Bonus. Someone asked what pastureized meant. I'm refering to the pasture mentioned in the phrase 'put out to pasture' which of course means you're not particularly productive, but you're kept around anyway. You have not chance of promotion and are probably forgotten for raises, but at least you have a job. Bear in mind that I give you these elements with the assumption that your boss is a good boss that knows what he's doing, and not a self serving Id monkey. Also understand that I'm not going to mention breaking specific company rules but you'll get sacked if you are making out with your bosses secretary while embezzling funds from the company coffers.

To be clear Fired for my list is the same as Layed off . Besides, it feels exactly the same. There will also be Pastured meaning no chance of advancement or raise, and Overtime. If you work a salary position, that's called free work. On the good end, we have Promotion, Raise or Bonus. They are all pretty much self evident.

10. FIRED - Don't do your job. While this one seems obvious, it really isn't always true. In fact, sometimes you will see people that NEVER do their job and still thrive within the company, but lets put it this way. If you don't do your job, they have a REASON to fire you and you never want that. The sad thing is that you are sometimes not given the tools to DO your job. This won't change things. If you can't do it, you won't be there long.

9. PROMOTION - Do your job well - I've never quite understood this one. You are hired to do a job and if you do it well, you get promoted. Quite possibly to a job that you don't do well. This is called the Peter Principle. Originated because Christ (who was perfect) told Peter (who is decidedly NOT perfect) that he would be the Rock upon which he would build his chruch. Talk about high expectations. Giving a person a promotion to a different job because they did the one they are good at well, is a lot like asking a fish to fly because it swims so well.

8. PASTURIZED - Start trashing your fellow employees to your boss - If and when you get some face time with the boss. it is NEVER a good idea to start trashing your co-workers. Some people actually do this and think it will get them a lift by cutting down those around them. The truth is, it's not a good idea to do it with your fellow co-workers either. It will always come back to bite you. It may not get you fired by itself. But when layoffs come around it seems like the complainers are always the first to be 'encouraged to seek other opportunities

7. PROMOTION - Build up your fellow employees - The opposite can tend to be true as well. People that build up their fellow employees are viewed as team players and people willing to compliment others instead of looking for compliments themselves. These people are also the favorites of people to work with.

6. FIRED - Openly display that you don't have anything better to do - This is the opposite of #9. You do your job so well that you have oodles of free time on your hands, so you start wandering around the company causing trouble. I myself have been guilty of this one. You don't really want more WORK, but you are bored to tears. If you couple this one with one of the other fired elements, you can see yourself on the out list really fast.

5. RAISE - Volunteer - Once again, obvious, and yet so many people don't realize it is possible. Sometimes through one or another events there is a whole other job that needs to be done becomes available. sometimes that job will be better than the one you have, and sometimes it will be worse, but puts you on track for a better position.

4. FIRED - Bug people - Hey! they can't fire me just because they are a bunch of morons! I do my job! All this might be true, but the fact is, you're kind of a jerk and people don't like you. If you are not liked by your co-workers, you are likely in for a slow death. If you bug your boss, you can probably speed up this process. Here is a truth of business. Company rules are for people that break them openly and for people you don't like. Otherwise, if you are liked and work well with others, low end rule infractions will be overlooked. If you aren't liked, mind your P's and Q's, because only following the rules to a T will save you.

3. BONUS - Save the Day! - While it is not actually smart for a manger to be rewarding company hero's It happens more often than not. Why shouldn't they reward the hero? Because usually the hero holds back until he can save the day and rewarding THAT effort with anything but manditory time off will only reinforce that behavior. But usually it will result in a low grade bonus of some sort.

2. OVERTIME - Just be around close to a deadline - It's interesting that business seems to think that you should work overtime in the case of an emergency by virtue of it's need. Some companies will pay you for this overtime, other companies think that you should give the company the gift of your time in exchange for nothing. After all, they employ you, you should be on your knees thanking your maker for such a generous institution as to take your free time with their 'emergencies'.

1. RAISE - Work for a different company - I've always gotten my best raises by changing jobs. I've never understood this about companies. Once you work for a company, they will have a company policy (read EXCUSE) that says you can only have a maximum percentage of a raise. I'd be willing to buy that company policy if they agreed that they would only hire new people based on the salaries of the current employees, but then they wouldn't be able to hire anyone would they. The fact is, many companies have this interesting self view that they are in fact the best place to work in the known universe and you would be crazy to leave for more money. Which is why you can leave for more money. Remember, a company is ultimately only as loyal to you as much as they need you. The instant they don't need you, you become redundant and layed off. You are the safest if you ALWAYS think in terms of what skills you have that you are not being compensated for. When you find the job that will appreciate those skills. Jump. It's that simple.

As always thanks for reading! Tell your friends!