Wednesday, October 16, 2013

10 ways you can 'fake it'

Faking it.  You know.  Trying to seem in the know when you really aren't.  Sometimes it happens when you are at work, sometimes at home.  Most of the time, it's not bad, it's just you trying to keep your little mental boat afloat when it seems to have been caught in an eddy.  Some people are SO good at this, they achieve middle management, where they are either forced to get IN the know, or move themselves from job to job every time they are found out by someone with more authority than they have.  Here is your guide for faking it in all kinds of situations.

10.  Half hearted laugh - the half laugh is not really a laugh at all in the humorous sense.  It's either an indicator of association so as to say 'yeah, I've been there' or it is a sign of derision to say 'I know exactly what you are talking about, that sucks'.  You use it when you come into the middle of a conversation that people think you are somehow included.  Rather than uncomfortably leaving, you snort your acceptance and listen on hoping to get some inkling of what is going on.

9.  Bold Bluster - Risky.  VERY Risky.  When you see your authority being questioned and you aren't sure how to save face, you bloviate about how there is no organization from within the ranks you command.  More organization!  That's what we need!  Better signals people!  Where is our follow through!  More of these semi-sport related management phrases that seem to apply to the situation.  What's the real problem?  Who cares.  If you say one of those three things and look carefully at who nods (a junior faker).  You'll be able to find who you need in meetings to continue to support your fraud.  WARNING.  If you pull this in a situation that calls for none of those things say for example a blatant sexual harassment suit that is looming, you will find yourself encouraged to find new venues for middle management.

8.  Uh huh - vague acceptance.  Best on the phone for conversations that you really haven't heard or don't care about.  the Uh huh is the sprinkling of water on the dying plant of your conversation that will keep it alive just long enough to keep you out of trouble.  Warning.  Uh huh does NOT work when you are suddenly asked a question like 'So what did he say to you when I left?' after the story I told that took the last 20 minutes?.  Unless, of course,  you are really looking to shorten the conversation.

7.  Ask and Answer - Sure you can't use it in a court of law, but in the court of faking it, ask and answer has a lot of value.  You ask yourself a vague question and then answer it.  It is best used in the course feigning  trying to understand a subject so that your counterpart will either catch you up because you 'misunderstood' or will agree with you affirming that you are in the know.  Example:  'So you're saying he completely decided to cut you out of that loop? or...' , 'No, what I'm saying is that he lied about the whole thing'  'OH!, I see now, yes'

6.  The catch up - Thanks to the cell phone we have an instant excuse to turn a minor faux pas into a major faking it win.  If you've been dozing off in the meeting but you need to know what's up, you pretend that your phone has been silently ringing and announce to everyone that you have to get this.  You then come back and inform the meeting that you apologize and please get you up to speed.  This is a double bonus because you look REALLY busy AND you just get the high points of the meeting.

5.  Wolf amongst sheep - So you are at a party with some friends and you quickly realize that you are the only conservative amongst liberals, or the only DC comics fan amongst Marvel fans.  This is about not completely alienating friends until they see you as a friend with a different opinion instead of one of 'them'.  The key here is common ground and distraction.  We'll use the Conservative amongst Liberals example. Them: 'So I really think Obamacare will fix what's wrong with this country, I can't believe those republican's can't see that'.  You:  'Yeah, it's pretty amazing that most of it was taken from Utah and Massachusets...pretty wierd'  as you turn to the chip table and grab a generous handful of chips and dip and keep your mouth full of corn instead of words.  Bottom line, find your common ground and give nothing more.

4.  Sport guy - According to beer commercials and the Internet, all men should inherently know about manly sports.  Inside this means intimate knowledge of Football/Basketball and sometimes baseball.  Outside of the US it means knowing about Soccer and Cricket.  The key here is knowing some of the buzz words and a little bit of derision in your voice.  Let's make football our example.  They guys are talking about 'the game' complaining about the play.  You listen for a blank spot and then you say '[Team A] really needs to be more organized in the Secondary, they just let too much get away'  Much like 9 the bold bluster, you are now using business terms to augment your appearance in football knowledge.  90% of the time any team will need the same kinds of things that business needs.  This is really going to be the same for any of the other sports, you just need some very spotty knowledge of the sport and apply a business metaphor to it.  Bang!  you're in like flyn.

3.  Getting Clarification - You're in the company, but you really don't know how to do what you've been hired for.  In fact you know it will take you so long to get up to speed, you need a real boost but you can't ask anyone there because it got out that you are actually getting paid for this job and you aren't an intern.  You casually go to the person that you estimate has the most knowledge about the thing you need to do and casually ask 'So on this project, what's the standard operating procedure?  How do we do it here?'  Nobody could possibly be expected to know what happens in a specific situation.  You get an example of what needs to happen and boom, you get a road map for what you should be doing.  The danger here is going to the well too many times.  You really can't play this card too many times before you are found to be a fraud, so make it good.

2.  The OTHER family wingman - You are at the other family reunion.  You've been a few times, but honestly you still really aren't sure who is who.  They know you and they have you at a disadvantage.  Some are gracious and continue to introduce themselves, others just talk to you like you should completely know who they are.  At this point your best bet is to not let your better half out of your sight, they are now your wingman.  That way they can make the absolute naming reference to each of the relatives while you quietly re-assert the association, and all you have to do now is take the association to indicate that you are aware of them and care.  Example.  Wingman 'Oh Uncle Frank and Aunt Gladys, it's so great to see you this year!' YOU: 'Great to see you Frank, how is ice road trucking treating you?'

1. TV Talk - Often at the office the TV shows of the prior night will make or break your banter relationship.  Early on there was literally no way to include yourself into the story arc because the only way you could gain entry was to borrow videos from that one guy that video taped everything.  Yeah how's that guy feeling now?  Kinda dumb because you can watch just about everything now just by having the internet.  So once you realize the you've missed the boat you just pull up the old episodes on the internet and catch up so that by next week you're wondering what the writers were thinking like you've been there since the pilot.  Technically you aren't faking it here, you are just catching up but close enough.

What, you think I missed something obvious? Ok, I'll admit, this whole blog is probably faking it.  But the day has not yet expired and I made my self imposed deadline.  Give me 15 days give or take, and I'll give you 10 things.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

10 Things to do or not do after you lose your job.

Well Zippity Doo dah.  It looks like I lost my job today.  I say looks like because it was so quick, I really wasn't sure what happened.  But really that's beside the point.  What's done is done and I must move on.  So now what?  What do I do?  The country appears to have lost it's job today as well (Well the WORKING part of the country, not the SPYING part or the BICKERING part they seem to be just fine).  So I thought I would continue my blog by stating what you do and don't do with the loss of employment.  Please understand that this has more to do with the initial loss and not the chronically unemployed.  Also, as this is kind of a touchy subject, realize that I do not give this advice as anything more than what I would do, I'm not telling you it's what you must do.  I can't afford to take responsibility for what happens in your life.  Use your judgement for crying out loud!  Say, maybe that's why you got let go?...anyway.  Off we go.

10. Don't get mad at the employer - Honestly, these are the guys that paid you to do whatever it was you were doing.  Often the reason you are let go has nothing to do with your performance, but rather the direction of the company. Other times it does have something to do with you.  Don't bother with the fantasy that the company will never be able to get along without you, the BEST of employees are replaceable.  If a company happens to drown after gutting itself, it's very likely that it was going down with or without you and it's better if you're not there for the life vest test.  The best wrench turner in the business will not keep their job in the face of a wrench turning robot.  They won't keep their job if the company no longer needs wrenches turned either.  Sometimes it's just a matter of bad timing.  Anger doesn't really help much.  In fact, I can't think of one instance where anger has helped anyone do anything except appear angry, unless you count hurting peoples feelings, it's pretty good with that.  It's also not bad for getting you into jail.  Also, burning bridges isn't a good idea if they happen to need someone like you later.  Better the devil you know and all that.

9.  Don't call a head hunter right away - The truth is, employment consultants/agencies are kind of ruining the job market for a lot of professionals.  While they don't muck around with entry or low level positions they do insinuate themselves as some kind of professional filter to assist the employer and employee.  The employer pays a pretty penny to the placement agencies for their 'qualified' employees.  These are penny's that they are spending on your behalf that you will never see, why not sell yourself and find a good position that didn't need an agency.  You will be that much more attractive because you aren't costing the company a finders fee.  Wait at least a week before you jump into the placement agency.  Companies, do yourselves a favor and at least look for references from your current employees and friends.  Maybe you can save yourself some money.

8.  Don't cancel your stuff yet - So you've got cable, cell phones, Jelly of the Month club etc.  All of these monthly expenses weigh you down.  You are going to need that money!  Hold your horses there.  You've lost your job, not your skills.  What if you cancel all your stuff and you get a job the next day?  Then what?  I'm not saying go out and spend, but don't go off half cocked and start assuming that this is your financial Armageddon.  It's just more stuff you'll put back into place later that may end up costing you more.  On the other hand, it might be a good time to look at what is really necessary in your life and minimize!  1 month later and you are still not on the good side of the unemployment numbers?  Chop away.

7.  Evaluate why you were let go. - Give yourself an honest appraisal.  Yes, you were let go.  Often an employer will not let you know the reason.  You will not be fired for cause, but you will be laid off' from your position.  This means that you weren't fired, but rather your desk was and you happened to be in it at the time.  Sometimes this is genuine.  If your company is making drastic moves and see's itself in a weak financial position, they will start cutting positions that are seemingly redundant in order to maintain cash flow.  So what made YOU redundant?  Was it your position?  Was it that the jobs you were working on were completed?  Did you work yourself out of a position?  It's not a bad thing to do that.  If the company you are working for just doesn't have anything for you to do anymore, it's best that you move on instead of let your skills get stale.  If you can't get an honest appraisal, find the most brutal person that you can talk to from your ex-job and see if they will tell you the real reason or the scuttlebutt about your disappearance.  You might learn something that you already knew but hoped nobody else did.

6.  Don't get mad at everyone else - This is different than the employer.  Often an employer will let you go with some kind of severance and in exchange for an agreement that you will not to spread venom about that company or it's employees (much less their company secrets!) to the rest of the world.   Well, you are in an emotionally fragile situation weather or not you realize it. You'll probably get mad at several people that had nothing to do with your ouster.  They don't deserve it.  It doesn't help as I mentioned above.  Remember, these are the people that will help you get your next job!

5.  Don't polish your resume (unless you have to) - You should ALWAYS be ready to hand out your resume.  Whenever you accomplish something at work, you should write it down as a note on your current resume to be fleshed out later.  When you do get let go or think you might be, you should already have a ready to go resume that will be polished and impressive.  If you don't, well then you've got time, but what you don't have are the accurate memories to go with it.  It's not a bad idea to keep a work journal that tracks your progress at your current position.  It will help later in making you look as employable and as possible.

4.  Don't make any drastic decisions - Some people when under duress will make sudden decisions that will haunt them later.  You know, like ordering that Franklin mint set of commemorative Star Trek mugs over the next 7 years, or buying a new car because you 'deserve it'.  Anything that seems fairly large scale, let it sit for a few days or even weeks.  Make sure it's what you want to do.  Since losing your job is one of the top 5 traumatic things that will happen during the course of your life, it probably exerts enough bad pressure that your better judgement may be a bit off.

3.  Do Take the day(s) off - Ok, you've been let go.  That's a fact.  Fretting and worrying about it won't help much.  Only doing things about it will.  Sure if there are positions that look like a fit, go ahead and do it, but honestly, submitting resumes doesn't really take THAT much time.  What you probably need is a few days to collect yourself and regroup.  Get objective about things.  Some can do this faster than others.  Take a few days and just relax.  At least they won't have you to kick around anymore. So make the best of it.  If you are lucky, you'll be looking back wishing you had taken some time off before getting back to work.

2.  Do contact your friends - Your friends are your best way to vent and possibly look for other work.  Since most of the friends we make are at the workplace, they will also know what kind of work people we are as well as what manner of job we are looking for.  If they don't have positions where they are, they might know about positions opening up.  Don't be ashamed of your recent loss. It happens to a lot of us.  If it hasn't happened to you, count yourself lucky, not necessarily skilled.

1.  Don't kick yourself around too much. - As an employee you are always going to be available for sudden unemployment for any number of reasons.  The reasons don't matter.  It's just not fun and while part of it is probably your own doing, there is no sense in berating yourself.  Give yourself a day or two to mourn the loss of your job and don't beat yourself up.  You must lose your inner loser and be prepared for the interviews to come.  HINT:  People like and are drawn to confident happy people.  If you aren't one or both of those things, get there.  There is no reason not to be there.  after all, you have friends and they think you are ok, why shouldn't you?  and why shouldn't your future employer.

There it is.  I'm still writing this blog even though I had serious reservations about printing it today.  Well, I'm still publishing it.  yay me. Come on back in a fortnight.  I'm sure I'll have something else to write about.