Photo: Digital News Asia

Workplace: Sex, lust and jealousy – all in a day’s work

Young people around the world should have their sights set this time of year on joining the workforce soon. Good.

But, be careful. Know before you get to your workstation what happens there and what does not happen.

Not a place to make friends

The place of work is not a place to make friends. Your colleagues will be mates for the dates you work together. After that you will just be an acquaintance on social media. If you make a lifelong friend at the workplace, you will be extremely fortunate, but that is unlikely to happen.

The workplace is also not the place to share your personal problems. People are not interested, especially the bosses. If you have a need to tell people your innermost fears and uncertainties, rather go steal a puppy.

Both secretive and highly not secretive

The workplace is both secretive and highly not secretive. Whatever you tell colleagues will be shared around the business within hours. That is a promise. Nothing is secretive among colleagues. If you want people to know something about you at the speed of a wildfire, tell a colleague in confidence. Having said that the workplace is simultaneously highly secretive. Seldom will staff know where the business intends to go in the next few months, let alone years. Don’t ask your boss. It is unlikely they know either. It is unlikely such plans have even been made. This is a good place to say: people will seldom speak the truth at work, and will withhold information you absolutely should have. Looking back, you will wish colleagues had told you at the time something, probably about yourself, that you should have been told

Stay away from sex with colleagues

Which brings me to sex. There are people who have met their life partner at the workplace. They are indeed fortunate. Beyond that, stay away from sex with colleagues. Remember, nothing is secret among colleagues. Colleagues are often seething with resentment to each other. What you may think is a discreet liaison with a consenting adult will be twisted at the workplace and used to ridicule the two of you. That is a promise. Nobody at the workplace has a vested interest in your wellbeing, but all will enjoy smirking behind your back.

Now, bosses are at times sexually attracted to people who report to them. If the target of the boss’s lust plays hard to get, and you are friends with that person, you could get caught in the lusty fire, and suffer, even if you have no idea what happened.

The workplace is unfair

Sadly, and hopefully slowly, you will experience firsthand just how unfair the workplace is. Discrimination prevails based on language, birth place, religion, gender, ethnic group, age, good looks, body shape and previous work success. You know, all the things that are expressly prohibited by law. And professional jealousy does exist, unfortunately.

Colleagues will not stand with you when you need them most. People are also not standing by to celebrate your success. Rather, most colleagues will begrudge your success, and will undoubtedly begrudge whatever success your kids might achieve. So, don’t share family stuff at work.

The people best at their jobs are not always promoted

Do not seek solace in the human resources (HR) department for any problem you may encounter. To the staff of HR, you are just a disciplinary hearing waiting to happen. Think of HR people as well-liked slaves who willingly flog other slaves on a cotton plantation at the whim of the owner to keep their own favoured status intact.

Remember, the people best at their tasks are not the people who are promoted. People who are promoted benefit from two insights. The first is that workplace politics exists. Such people know they must push their ideas and agenda often at the expense of people who do not see the need to push their ideas and agenda, or are not able to.

Get familiar with the word: Sycophant

Also, people who are promoted are familiar with the word sycophant. A sycophant is a person who ingratiates themselves to their bosses. Sycophants know that to be successful, they must engage in non-performance behaviour that endears them to the bosses, and nearly always at the expense of more deserving colleagues. A little bit of sycophancy goes a long way at work; and  much further than hard work.

And please do not complain about work. Ever, to anybody on anything. If you don’t like the place, move on. Unemployment and starvation are more desirable than having to be at work late sometimes. Complainers are unbelievably boring.

So, if you cannot make friends with your colleagues, cannot confide in them, cannot have sex with them and when great work will ultimately count for naught and complaining serves no purpose, what can you do?

Simple: Be Professional

The answer is: be professional. A professional is a person who does their tasks to the best of their ability with minimum emotional involvement. You are not at the workplace to make friends and the other things mentioned above. You are there to build up your experience, learning, curriculum vitae and always be on the lookout for a better opportunity. Treat the workplace like a boyfriend. Be nice to them while you are with them, get them to spend their money on you, and dump them without a single look backwards when a more handsome, richer one comes along. The company will dump you without a single look backwards when the business is sold or the leadership changes. All the dedicated work and loyalty you invested to date then means absolutely nothing.

People would be advised to equip themselves with technical skills that other people will pay for, such as being a plumber or electrician or management accountant. If I had my time again, I would have been a plumber first, and then a writer/teacher/researcher. A good car mechanic is worth 100 school teachers.  

My research for this article has spanned 49 years on newspapers, schools and universities in South Africa, England, Sharjah and China. Every point raised here in based on my real experience, with real living individuals, many of whom are still besmirching workplaces around the world. I hope you don’t run into them because they are a danger to your career. If you do, please thank them for the lessons they taught me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *