If only there was a Control-Z in life, moreover, in the workplace. Sharing personal information with colleagues – or applying with higher-ups the noble law of honesty being the best policy – can feel good at the time, but the social ecosystem in the office is just as subject to the laws of the butterfly effect as is the outside world. One mindless comment to whom you thought was your friend might equal the vanishing of that overdue promotion. Leaving the subject to wonder: ‘was it something I said?’ Chances are, it was.
The issue: The failed deadline What not to say: ‘I can’t help but feel that the word deadline should only be used when the failure to meet it actually results in death, ma’am.’ What to say: ‘I have a few follow up questions before I can truly let this rest.’
The issue: Being caught on social networking sites What not to say: ‘Bare with me, I’ve got a live one I’m trying to reel in, and I must say the high-speed Internet connection at work is a true aid to the process.’ What to say: ‘I was trying to reconnect with an old colleague that may be able to offer the company some financial backing.’
The issue: Running late What not to say: ‘Time is an abstract concept Brian, but I’d rather not talk about it while I’m still coming down.’ What to say: ‘I was attending the gas leak at the primary school across my street.’
The issue: Job abhorrence What not to say: ‘I’ve nearly completed my company-wide voodoo doll set. You’d be surprised by their uncanny resemblance.’ What to say: ‘I’m so glad to have found the very position that reflects my beliefs as earnestly as it brings out my potential, sir.’
The issue: Dating What not to say: ‘Have I ever told you it’s my personal ambition to make Gene Simmons seem comparatively prudish?’ What to say: ‘You know, no matter how much I apply myself, I just seem unable to find Mrs. Right.’
The issue: Hangovers What not to say: ‘I’ve been on some benders in my time, but these last three nights have been the full 360 degrees.’ What to say: ‘I have a headache, they run in the family, and it is by no means anything that impedes my work.’
The issue: The sickie What not to say: ‘My alarm went off this morning, as it always does. But I this time stared at the ceiling and asked, “What would Jesus have me do today?”’ What to say: ‘I had a highly contagious infection that science doesn’t understand.’ (Be sure to state aliments, mandatorily contagious, that pass in 48 hours – chest infection, viral infection. Apply the word infection liberally. But, in the off chance you’re telling the truth, refrain from getting into to the details of what occurs in the privacy of your own bathroom.)
The issue: The sickie return day What not to say: ‘It was the most productive day of my life! And today? Dear me, I could climb a mountain!’ What to say: ‘However incrementally, I’m improving. Thank you for asking.’ (It’s imperative that your words – and performance – harmonise with your fabrication from the day before. Sniffle, sneeze, have scrunched up tissues in hand, if not your heavy head. Even hold on to the edge of your desk and act dizzy. Never forget that vertigo is an aliment so blessed that it should have its own national holiday. Pour blame on it generously.)
The issue: Weekends What not to say: ‘I must admit I even thought about showering at one point, but being the endorser of Darwinism that I growingly am, felt that would interfere with nature’s will.’ What to say: ‘I caught up with season three of House Of Cards, and feel the supporting cast has really come into their own.’
The issue: Your relationship What not to say: ‘We’ve recently taken to reading each other’s chakras telepathically, and have both felt a significant rise in our Kundalini energies.’ What to say: ‘We spent the weekend at a lovely B&B. The swordfish was particularly good.’
The issue: The work Christmas party What not to say: ‘Good evening Mrs. Manager. That blouse is especially flattering. Would you like to dance?’ (Even if you’re getting the glad eye, it’s inadvisable to chat up your colleagues/employers. And – even if the room starts clapping in time to Last Christmas by Wham – equally so from removing your Santa suit by way of a strip tease.) What to say: ‘I’m teaching Iyengar Yoga at 7:00. I need to leave by 6:00.’
Mentioned are a mere handful of injudicious examples, but why people overshare is a curious matter. I’ve heard it said that the mind is classically split into two halves, with which you – not dissimilar to Gollum talking to his reflection – have a constant conversation. In theory, the more aware of this reflection we are, the more we’re able to combat its need for constant validation. But for those driven by the voices, the need to boast, outdo colleagues, i.e. balance unconscious inferiority; this insensible habit may occur daily.
Social media is in no way helping. In a world where what you’re up to matters hourly, people are simply expected to overshare. Besides, how exactly would Twitter survive without society’s need to talk about its latest Ikea purchase?
In summary, the age-old adage might be the mantra of choice: less is more. Sure you want to tell the hot girl who sits next to the water cooler that you ran a half marathon before work this morning – and that you stopped only to help a stray dog deliver eight perfectly healthy puppies – but fail not to remember the butterfly effect reaching your line manager down the corridor. In that he – the one who’s working on his next heart attack – tends to warm less to those interested in fitness, than those concerned by the height of the hamburger they conquer each day. Chances are, the more oil you spill, the wider the clean up operation.
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