Office life is pretty mundane, right? You go to work, do what you’re supposed to, write a column or two while alt+tabbing if anyone walks by, and leave when the day is over. Wrong. Offices are an urban jungle of temptation, dick-measuring contests, deception, competition, and jealousy. If you’re going to survive at all, you need a plan. Lucky for you, I have provided one. Wash your face and get your mind right. It’s go time.
The HR Violator
Similar to how the people naked at nude beaches are never those that you would actually want to see, the most inappropriate girl in the office is rarely the one you would want to have an illicit desktop affair with. She’s usually always pretty enough, but almost always past her prime. This unhappily married woman has the mouth of a sailor even though you get reprimanded for saying “shit” around women, wears the shortest skirts and lowest shirts to show off what no one has wanted to see for a decade, and her innuendos to coworkers don’t even fall under the category of insinuation anymore because they’re too overt and blatant.
How to handle them: The only kind of whore this lady really is, is an attention whore. Just because her husband doesn’t touch her anymore doesn’t mean she wants you to. Don’t give in to her needy seduction and she’ll get the hint as flashbacks of never being asked to high school dances, never having sober sex in college, and only being proposed to because she got knocked up wash over her mind.
The Male Fashionista
There is nothing wrong with looking your best, and no one should still be wearing 5-inch ties, pleated pants, or shirts that could alternate as a parachute if you jump out of the window mid-day, but there is a difference between looking modern and classy and trying to one-up GQ in the workplace. This guy always has the latest celebrity haircut, regardless of it is appropriate for the office, the two-day stubble that you know he trims diligently, crazy dress shoes with obnoxious buckles, and a tie skinnier than everything but his pants.
How to handle them: Similar to the HR Violator, this guy’s need to be identified as “hip,” “ahead of the curve,” and “absolutely killing it” is his biggest weakness. When he says, “Grabbed some new ties this weekend,” tell him “Yeah, I saw those on sale at JC Penney.” When he brags about his sock game, let him know that your mom has the same set of polka dots. His ego will shrivel up faster than his sack in those skin tight slacks.
The Overbearing Office Manager
This matron is the adult version of the ugly fat friend and treats everyone in the office as her little baby birds, especially the secretarial staff. While your admins might be cool, fun to joke around with, and down for happy hour, this mother hen will always swoop in if there is too much fraternization. Her main enemy? Young men and women in front office roles who are just out of college and already have more income and respect than she does. She’ll be complaining to the Managing Director behind your back with every slip up she can find.
How to handle them: Chances are, your bosses all get annoyed by this woman themselves, but never forget that they keep her employed for a reason. Her tattling, while juvenile, has value, so try your best to get on her good side. Like the ugly fat friend, the Overbearing Office Manager responds well to minimal, but genuine, effort and winning her over is key to staying out of the office gossip circuit.
The Insecure Boss
This guy has absolutely killed it throughout his career, has money and a great family, and part owns the company. The only thing rivaling his big swinging dick status at the firm is how much of a dick he is to you. This is the guy who hired you because you radiated confidence in the interview and then tells you that you’re too egotistic. This is the guy who makes it your fault if you fail, but the company’s victory if you succeed. Somehow, even though you’ve been in the industry for a year and he’s been in it for twenty five, he sees you as some sort of competitor that he is determined to beat.
How to handle them: You’re going to have to suck up a little if you want to keep your job, but don’t become a pushover. Once this guy no longer sees you as a challenge, he owns you even more than already does from signing your paychecks. Stand up to him respectfully and allow him to “mentor” you whenever possible and eventually he’ll come to respect your self-assurance. Or you’ll get fired, but hey, you’ll have your dignity.
The Social Media “Expert”
This girl majored in Public Relations and has somehow managed to turn her college Facebook addiction into a career. As companies rush to get “social,” she’s on the forefront giving your older coworkers awful advice for their LinkedIn profiles, pushing QR Codes even though everyone hates them, and has managed to get the company less followers so far than you have on your personal twitter. She’s the consensus expert on “blogging” in your company and her word on the internet is final.
How to handle them: You’re going to have to take this one into your own hands and fight fire with fire if you want to make it a contest. Get your LinkedIn up to a golden standard and win a few clients with it. Get your professional Twitter profile rolling and quickly outpace the company’s in terms of relevancy. Results speak for themselves, and social media is only useful as a means to an end. If you want to take this girl on, you have to be proactive. If you don’t, you can at least take solace in the fact that you have a real job.
The Crazy Old Man
Back in his day, the Crazy Old Man was once the big swinging dick himself, but now, like an old man’s actual dick, he’s rather useless and rarely rises to the occasion. This guy spends his day watching Youtube videos of songs from the 50’s, sleeping in his office that the firm reluctantly lets him keep, asking the admins constantly to help him with simple technology issues, and giving out professional advice that, while terrific, he has told you five times already.
How to handle them: If the Overbearing Office Manager is the office mother, the Crazy Old Man is the office grandfather. Just like your own grandfather, you listen to his stories, laugh along with his outdated comments, take his legitimately good advice, and he’ll have your back when your parents, your bosses, or anyone else gets on your case. This guy is only still around because your bosses don’t have the heart to ask him to leave and they respect his judge of character.
This guy may or may not be Jesus in a double windsor knot. He is calm, collected, professional, and is universally respected by those inside and outside your office. Surprisingly successful for his age, this Vice President is also a great mentor and incredibly cool outside of the office. All of that sounds good, right? Wrong. Your bosses love to make comparisons between employees and chances are you’re never going to eclipse his majesty. Land a huge account? Mr. Perfect did that when he was two years younger. Get a project done way ahead of time? Mr. Perfect went ahead and finished it for you yesterday and already turned it in. Go to lunch with a CEO? Mr. Perfect is dating his daughter.
How to handle them: Hitch a ride. Mr. Perfect’s star is continuously on the rise, so it’s far better to make friends with him than enemies. Work along side him as much as you can, learn from him, and try to get some of that awesome by association.
The New Guy
Even worse is the New Guy. He has done nothing wrong, and similar to Mr. Perfect may be the coolest person you meet in years, but the Insecure Boss has set him up as your chief competitor so he’s going to have to take the fall. In fact, the entire reason he was hired may or may not have something to do with your current level of motivation. Not yet jaded and cynical, the New Guy’s plastered smile, can-do attitude, and bend-over-backwards work ethic are sure to do you in.
How to handle them: Fuck this kid. He was meant to light a fire under your ass? Burn him down instead. Completely ignore that by taking this approach, you are feeding into exactly what your bosses wanted in hiring him. He is now your opponent, your competition, your nemesis, and if you can’t outdo him in the office you should get your raincoat and Huey Lewis CDs ready.