In an attempt to help my loyal readers, at the moment there are few as this is a new site, I will delve into the social side of Evil Office Politics. Once in awhile there seems to me to be a template that is true for me as it is for anyone who works in the extremely bizarre environment that is the office. The template I am referring to is the five people everyone has in their office, no matter the size of the staff, mind you there has to be more than five people in your office for this to make any sense. Anyway, here is my attempt at demystifying the employee stereotypes and how you can use these people to get ahead, and backstab free.
(1) The Kiss Ass: Everyone knows who this is. This snivelling co-worker makes everyone else in the office feel uneasy when they’re around. This person can be best described as someone with very little experience, no backbone, and most importantly, a fervor for management. They are the lapdog of anyone in a position of authority, circling around their heels constantly nodding in agreement. You may despise this person for their constant “company is everything to me” policy but BEWARE, this is probably one of the most dangerous persons you could come across in the wilds of the office.
In their natural tendency to be submissive, the Kiss Ass will inherently agree with any grievance you have with the company. They will side with you and your beef, lending their support through your troubling time maybe even offering some words of advice. But all of this is a front. At first opportunity, your entire conversation will be retold word for word, as if it was digitally recorded, to the exact manager or supervisor you have the beef with. This is how the Kiss Ass finds their worth and importance. Managers love the Kiss Ass. And not being aware of their presence can be career ending.
So, how do you deal with the Kiss Ass? Easy, use them as your source of information. The Kiss Ass knows everything about everyone, I bet they even know a few things about you, and this is the key to getting ahead. Slowly, but surely, gain this persons trust. Tell them how you appreciate their hard work and determination in spite of everyone else’s negative perceptions. Tell them you think they should be in management and do little things to let them know you have their back. Do not overstep your bounds or let others see you be too friendly as this could clash with your co-workers ideals and get you blacklisted. Once you have the ear of the Kiss Ass, and have a good amount of information on everyone in the office, you can begin to use them as a sounding board because you now also have the ear of management. Say good things to the Kiss Ass and they will be heard by the office authoritarian. In time, and with the cunning of a fox, you may even have this Kiss ASS as your own lapdog.
(2) The Legend: This person is the one who has been with your office the longest. They have all the experience you could ever want but none of the neurotic fears of others with less seniority. This person knows the game, they are well versed in the daily operations and, best of all, the dark company secrets that keep higher ups awake at night. In my experience, this person is never in management, they either have performed too well in their position to be promoted, or, they have seen too many others step into that position only to be let go soon after. This person is not generally dangerous as they know enough to keep their position safe until retirement, but do not mistake their value to you, they are worth their weight in platinum. Never make enemies with the Legend, it will mean your immediate downfall. Everyone loves the Legend and will pierce you with the glares of a thousand daggers if you harm them in any way.
How does the Legend help you? This is obvious, the Legend is full of information and is usually open and caring enough to give it to you in drawn out office stories. Take them out to lunch one day, and do yourself a great favor. You see, the Legend does not get involved in evil office politics, they have stayed on because they have stayed away from such nonsense. They are the ones with the numerous wall plaques noting their company worth, and they are the ones you should model yourself after. Take an interest in their life, ask them about their hobbies or whatever interests you can determine from the knick-knacks on their desk and, whammo, you’re on your way. Now the best thing to do is to slowly bleed them making sure you don’t suck them dry too fast as they will cut you off immediately. They’ve seen your type many times before and are well aware of such tactics. Finally, never, I mean ever, turn around and repeat what was said to others, this act will ensure you have made an enemy of the Legend.
The Lengend is an ally. Find a friend in the Legend and you may have a long life with the company.
(3) The Complainer: Nothing is ever right with this person. They are either sick, depressed, stressed, or overworked. Their personal life is, in their words, a mess. They have annoying habits, like bugging you with inane chatter when you have work to do. They are never satisfied with their work, management, and life in general. Now your office may not have someone to this degree, but the Complainer does exist in less obvious forms. No matter the degree, the Complainer is the person everyone tries to avoid. You will see your co-workers walk away from this person whenever they bust into their next “whoa is me” story. I always find it funny to see the new employees with the Complainer. They will listen very intently at first in an effort to be nice, but as the months go by they quickly learn this persons daily life sucking routine and begin the separation.
The Complainer is no real danger to you, in fact they can be a common joke you use to get in good with the Legend and the Kiss Ass. Sidenote: both the Legend and the Kiss Ass hate the Complainer. The Legend can’t stand the daily toll it takes on them to hear the constant negativity, and the Kiss Ass can’t stand the constant company bashing and time wasting.
The Complainer, though, can be used to get ahead. I have to say that the complainer can also be a goldmine if you are a patient person. Most people are not aware of the value of the Complainer. This person can be used to bounce evil ideas off of. If you have a plan to get ahead, subtly suggest it to the Complainer. They will happily give you their honest opinion as no one normally talks to the Complainer, and they will give you some insights as they generally know a great deal about the office. Beware of the fact that if you are too blatant about your plans to dominate, the Complainer will squeal loudly in an effort to become the center of attention. But the great thing is that if the Complainer tries to tell others about your schemes, your co-workers will walk away before it comes out. Still, some crafty behavior is still required.
The other useful thing about a Complainer is that they are one of the only people who will back you up if you take a stand against the company. Now whether or not you want to align yourself with this person is up to you. Just know that your position may be less valued because management is also is leary of the Complainer and may not want to hear from you for fear that you are the next office Complainer.
(4) The Know It All: This person is the scourge of the office experience. They are to be avoided at all costs. If you must deal with the Know It All, do so lightly. Don’t get involved personally. To do so will mean endless days of wasted effort trying to prove them wrong. You may have concrete proof this person is wrong, but don’t bother showing the Know It All, as their world does not accept outside information. All the knowledge they have ever required was born with them and will die with them.
I have seen many a good worker brought down by the Know It All. It is a sad sight to see someone spend hour after hour of their time amassing information to prove the Know It All wrong, only to find themselves exhausted and one hair away from a nervous break down. The Know It All cannot be beat. Their delusions are too strong to overcome. And just know, the Know It All will always be in your office, in your conversations, and in your space. Why? In some weird need for balance in the universe, the Know It All is necessary for proper office function. They are hard working, when they’re not telling someone how to do something, and their work is normally up to par. The Know It All is potentially your worst enemy.
How do you use the Know It All? Well, in order to use the Know It All effectively, you must do the one thing must normal people can’t: swallow your pride. Let their words roll off your back like water off a duck. Let them take charge of any project, let them lead in any decision, but by no means follow blindly. If you do have a problem with the Know It All you can’t swallow, take it directly to management. Do not gossip to your co-workers, Know It All’s are known to have extraordinary hearing and will take you down with a ferocity unknown to us regular folk. But know this: The Know It All will shoot themselves in the foot EVERYTIME! All you have to do is give them the rope and within no time they will be swinging from the banisters. But never expect the Know It All to be fired. This will not happen. Management always need a fall guy, and the Know It All is the perfect specimen.
Use the Know It All but do so with ninja like stealth. Let them take themselves down, but gently inform management of your attempts to help the Know It All steer clear of failure. This will give you some credit and help management see you as an independent thinker who can be a team player.
(5) You: Yes, I said it. You, my inquisitive friend, are also a stereotype. You are the unknown factor that bothers the Legend, the Kiss Ass , the Complainer, and the Know It All. Why? Because you are someone that they cannot fully trust. They don’t fully agree with you, but they don’t fully disagree with you either. They know you are smart, experienced, educated, and friendly, but they also know you are the one most likely to be promoted. You work hard, but not too hard. You are level headed, fair, and fun to be around but you are still flawed in some admirable way. You, my reader, are on the top of their watch lists. And you can be your own worst enemy. If, for one second, you don’t balance advancement with co-worker alignment, you will be the next to go down.
Take proper precautions with the four others mentioned in this article. Use them at your discretion, and use them wisely. You tread on a dangerous path. But there is one thing working for you the others don’t: you are a member of EVIL OFFICE POLITICS, the greatest source of backstabbing protection one can find.