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When things are quiet around the office, you can, for a moment, almost enjoy your work. It’s like that beginning part of a Disney movie where the animals, dwarves, and princesses work side-by-side while singing a chipper melody against a bright and colorful background. You laugh and joke with your co-workers, you might take a longer lunch or screw around in the break room a little longer than needed. Maybe you’ll cut out early or unabashedly surf the web to kill time. Life is good when the office is a relaxed environment.
But then, as if a cold breeze sweeps through the cubicles and the landscape goes from bright to grey and somber, he walks in.
It’s different for every office. He might be your boss, she might be the tight-ass manager from another department, or they might be upper management coming down for an impromptu visit. Whoever it might be, though, when that guy comes in the vibe completely shifts.
The laughter and joking stops. You can hear the quick clicking of everyone alt-tabbing away from their chats or Reddit to some spreadsheet. A few brave souls will steal a nervous glance over at the metaphorical bringer of death in the office. Most will stay focused on their own work, hoping that if they don’t draw attention to themselves the evil will pass without incident.
When they come over to your desk or shoot you an e-mail, that feeling of a pit in your stomach hits you instantly. It’s not necessarily that they’re always critical of your work. They might be causing you more unnecessary grief or just make the entire room uncomfortable because of their habits or personality. It’s that person who offers to “help” you on your project just so they can take credit or undermine you come review time. The one who asks you to reformat your files for no real reason other than they’re being anal and they’ll fuss to your manager if they do. They could be the office complainer, who always has something to comment on from the office temperature to the toilet paper in the bathroom to the new guy. Or they could be the smelly, gross, disgusting person that causes everyone in a twenty-foot radius to slide a little further away. Even if their intentions are good (which you highly doubt), their presence in the office brings nothing but tension and grief.
Am I being a bit satirical and dramatic? Sure. But you know deep down that there is one person who you work with that’s like this. When they leave, when they send an e-mail announcing they’re working from home, or when they’re on vacation, the atmosphere of the office changes. No one says it, but everyone feels more relaxed. There’s that internal celebration, a sigh of relief, that your day won’t be muddied by having to see that person. She’s the subject of all the secret group chats and text convos, the one you all gripe and moan about. If there was one thing that could really make your work better, it would be the removal of this person.
They are the true grim reaper of the office. The killer of all your energy, enthusiasm, and whatever scarce joy you might have. Like a dementor, their mere presence sucks the happiness from you. So the question is, how do you deal with them?
Unfortunately, like the icy hand of death, this person is unavoidable. Inevitable. No matter how much you wish it away, that person will always be around. An ever-present reminder of the worst parts of your job. Always hounding you about the work still to be done, the mind-numbing tasks that you hate doing, the fact that you’re not at home in soft pants relaxing alone. The best you can do to deal with him, well, is to do your best.
Just like diet and exercise to stave off death, doing good work and some decent schmoozing will keep away the office grim reaper. Ignore him when he comes by with his garlic and onion breath going on about how psyched he is about his upcoming weekend kayak trip. Grit your teeth while she passive-aggressively reminds to respond to that e-mail she sent you less than an hour ago. The grim reaper comes for us all eventually. Just do your best not to fall prey to his icy grip of death by boredom.
And if you’ve gotten this far, and aren’t sure who I’m talking about; if you’re not on any group convos with co-workers about a despised colleague; if you really can’t stand when someone doesn’t save their document as a csv file instead of an xls file, well, you might be holding that sickle. .
Image via Youtube