Sweating through a summer on a construction site clean up crew as an impressionable sixteen-year-old, I learned firsthand many tips on how to survive the workplace. I named them “My Big 7:”
1. Always carry something with you at work. Otherwise, bosses will yell, “Hey, why aren’t you working?” Carrying something suggests you did something important back where you got it and that you’re about to do something important where you’re going.
2. Say you know what’s going on, even if you don’t. Nodding – even casual but confident shrugging – works to fend off future attention and unwarranted consequences. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
3. Make noise while you work. It insinuates great effort is being made and implies manliness. Doing this, bosses often don’t even check to see if you’re working, which is the whole point.
4. Choose tasks that cover the most physical space. Performing them highlights how much you’ve already done, especially in the morning when first impressions are crucial.
5. Always walk fast. You’ll come across as engaged, and walking is easy to do. Bosses naturally prioritize things and will scrutinize other workers who haven’t moved an inch for twenty minutes and will go to hassle them, not you.
6. Focus intently on objects. Even if it’s only a spot the painters missed, this makes you seem intelligent and insightful. But make sure bosses don’t actually come over to inspect your useless discovery. They’ll only badger you with comments like, “No. Get away from that. Jesus.”
7. Flaunt anything you know you’ve done right. As a result, superiors often assume everything else you’ve worked on has been done right as well. However, be sure that whatever you flaunt was done right, or this tip could backfire on you to no end.
Now – pretend you’re at your job right now. Isn’t it scary how most of the Big 7 are still applicable today?!
(The Big 7 list is found in Maybe Boomer, Chapter 7, “Responsibility,” that you can read more about in “Excerpts.”)