Wednesday, October 8, 2008

You Play To Win The Game

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

On my way home from work yesterday, I stopped to met this guy that I had lost contact with for what initially was supposed to be coffee, but somehow developed into a full-blown dinner. Anyway, he started asking about how things were going with me, what I had been up to and, of course, if I was seeing anyone. The latter part of his inquisition drew a demonstrative eye roll.

I told him that I was settling into a new job, which is going well. He then asked what I do. After explaining my responsibilities, I half-jokingly said that on top of doing all that I’m playing the game you have to master when you’re trying to get ahead. He asked me to clarify my statement. I explained that the game involves playing nice in the sandbox with the other kids. You know, asking people about their weekend even if you really don’t give a damn, engaging folks at the water cooler or at the copier when you really don't feel like being bothered, thanking your boss for assigning you additional projects even when you don't feel like doing what's already due, etc.

He reared back in his chair and shot me a disgusted look. He blasted me for what he called ”shucking and jiving”. He said he didn’t engage in office politics because he didn’t need to. His resume, he said, speaks for himself. He went on to remind me that he went to Georgetown, has a Masters from Cal and was a Fulbright Scholar. Suddenly, I remembered why I stopped talking to his pompous ass.

I told him that none of that matters if people don’t like you. You can be as credentialed as you want to be, but you’ll be fighting an uphill battle without having the right people in your corner. The old adage still holds very true: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I’ve seen it first-hand in my short time as a professional. Corporate America is a VERY incestuous place. People scratch the backs of those who they know and like and it’s usually the reclusive and/or foolish ones who think otherwise. The conversation ended by us agreeing to disagree. It was obvious that he had his way of doing things, I had mine, and we were getting absolutely nowhere fast by belaboring the point.

As I approached the office building this morning, I grabbed my little invisible controller and pressed ‘start’. I ran into a co-worker in the kitchen and talked to him about his jog last night. I joked with my boss about a comment she made yesterday about her daughter’s new husband. I asked one of the Directors who had left early Monday after falling ill if he was feeling any better. Giving off the appearance of being warm and personable certainly can’t hurt. So far, it's worked for me. I'm playing to win this game.


bLaQ~n~MiLD said...

Mmm yea dude is definitely naive. Granted you know how I feel about my job so I only play the 'game' with those I am still cool with but others I pay dust! If it's not about business, I have nothing to say. Not to say that if they speak to me, I won't respond, but I will NOT be the first to approach those whom I could care less about.

Corporate America is filled with children and huge ego's. Once bruised, they can be vicious! It's definitely a game that must be mastered over time tho.


BPS 3.0 : Dallas said...

Well I guess I will be a pompous ass too. If I am going to make nice with people then you better believe it will be with people who are worth it. I built up my network outside of the job. The last thing I want to be is trappped in a job with people I don't like and having to kiss their behinds because I want to keep the job I may hate.

I suggest to all people. Go to a networking function and spend two hours kissing up and trading business cards. Send an email every once in a while and if a job pops up then you will have someone on the inside to hook you up.

I believe you have to play the game but know the rules, the rules they don't put in the package.

Let me go ahead and post them:
1) Go outside of the job and network and share ideas. Join a young professionals group and quickly.

2) The bigger the Rolodex, not the Rolex, the greater the opportunities. The phat Rolex comes from the benefit of the Rolodex.

3) If you must chat it up in the office make sure it is genuine because people know when it is real. The last thing you want is to be called a brown noser or kiss up. You will never be respected. Just used and dumped to save another person's job.

4) Develop yourself. Take those free courses the company offers and if you happen to be able to go to conferences, network your ass off and waste your time and energy there.

Corey Keith said...

You better posts three posts consecutively.. and then you better get that fleshlight!

Joey Bahamas said...

You keep playing that game ain't nothing but a series of relationships...and the more people like you, the further you go...someone should've told John McCain that...cause, you know, he's no Miss


Darius T. Williams said...

LOL - Corey Keith is HILARIOIUS. I'm DEAD at his comment.

But you know WJ, you've got a great point. This is my 10th year working in Corporate America. I wish I'd known then what I know now. You have to play the game. It's so necessary. As a hiring manager I can say this, your resume and interviewing skills get you in the door. It's the matching of your integrity with your character that allows you to stay and get comforatble.

Anonymous said...

There has to be some substance there and the reality is you have to BOTH play the game and have the credentials especially in this economy. To have the doors opened for you, it never hurts to have contacts and those that can assist you in securing an opportunity. However, once you have seized the opportunity, your success in maintaining that opportunity is predicated on your own merit and performance (unless you are on the Supreme Court or some other other lifetime political appointment). Its an unfornuate reality.

Now the real question is whether this a general precept that applies to everyone or whether its a rule that's applicability is heightened because you're a person of color? If the discussion was framed in the social construct of race, I think I would have reached a slightly different conclusion. I believe non minorities can ascend the corporate ladder without merit and limited to no contacts...I wonder what your perspective is on this?


Mr. Jones said...

Blaq - I understand where you're coming from. Essentially, you have to know how is worth your effort and who isnt. There's this one girl who work's here who clearly has no interest in even being cordial. I give her a 'good morning' and keep it moving. She can't really do anything for me anyway cus she's not in a position of power, but who day she may be.

BPS - You go off for your essays. LOL.

I totally agree with you. I'd never waste my energy on people who may never be of any help in the future.

My experience, however, has been framed by the field in which I work. It's a VERY clique-ish industry. You never know who you may encounter in the future.

Corey - Yesssssssss!!!! LMAOOOOOO.

Joey - I'm so sick of McSame. He has the personality of an angry rock.

Darius - **rolls eyes** @ you for not even offering to take a look at my resume before I got this new job. Shame on you. LOLOLOL.

On a serious note...I'm with you. You get in the door, then you have to prove yourself as worthy.

Anonymous - You are soooooo right. If I wasn't clear in the initial post, let me make it clear: All style + no substance = a transparent mess. You absolutely need to be credentialed to make it although charm, wit, smarts and experience can get you pretty far.

Performing at a high level (or at least working hard to maintain the appearance of performing at a high level) is imperative otherwise...down goes the hatchet and it's off with your head.

In my experience, the rules apply to everyone regardless of race.
Although as a person of color I do feel I have to work harder at playing the game.

This thing is so multi-faceted it's ridiculous. LOL.

Thanks for the post. Good discussion here.

mp1 v.8.0 said...

I see you Herm Edwards!

La said...

That's kinda ridiculous.

I think people confuse having the sense to know that I can't curse in the office like I do at happy hour with changing my entire personality to fit my work place. One is common sense; the other is just extreme.

Realizing that there are politics everywhere and learning to use the nuaissances of them to your advantage don't make you a sell out. It makes you smart.

He'll realize that in a few years when he realizes that people care less about his degrees and how he looks on paper than the person they have actually had face time with and feel comfortable working with.

P.S. You have a tag on my blog.

bLaQ~n~MiLD said...

What does an angry rock look like? LMAO!!!!


thegayte-keeper said...

yeah I know all about the sad that the world works this way but it does so...

Mr. Jones said...

Blaq - Like John McSame.

yet another black guy said...

While i believe that sucking up is wrong, engaging in office chit-chat is a necessity. a better rapport with colleagues leads to better teamwork. as long as you honestly give some what of a damn about them, it's no big deal. and just what does your pompous little friend do?

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