So I went to a wedding in Houston this weekend, which for those of you who have never been is approximately 4 billion miles wide. Seriously, if you live on the west side of Houston and you want to have dinner with your friends on the east side, you’d better start driving right after lunch. Anyway, I sat there in the church, listening to the marrying couple promise to love and honor and cherish one another for the rest of their lives, to help each other through difficult times and provide support and an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on and all that, and it almost made me pass out. Seriously, if the business world operated with this kind of open communication, there’d be no problems anywhere – and then what would happen to all those conflict mediation therapists and anger management counselors? They’d all be out of job, that’s what would happen. Do you want to add to our nation’s unemployment? I sure don’t.
So, in an effort to keep all those folks in business, I’d like to give you a few tips to help ensure that you never end up creating the kind of healthy, vibrant, open communication structure that this crazy married couple was promising to do. Here goes!
Treat Your Colleagues Like the Enemies They Are! Please understand something. Your coworkers aren’t trying to create synergy. They’re not trying to build a better culture or mitigate problems. They are trying to steal your job. They are trying to get you fired. And once you recognize them for the evil that they are, the easier it will be for you to get irrationally angry at everything they ever say or do. In fact, they’re probably conspiring against you right now – so go yell at them!
Promise to Help People, Then Don’t Deliver! The trademark practice of failing businesses and crappy friends you asked to help you move. This accomplishes two things. First, it prevents your colleague from making contingency plans, since they’ll all assume that you’re going to do whatever you promised to do. And second, it usually puts the project in question hopelessly behind schedule, since you didn’t do anything! Plus it engenders a huge amount of ill will, especially if you work in customer service. I mean seriously, why would you even want customers anyway? It’s really hard to play Words with Friends when they’re all asking for stuff.
Only Stick Around While Things are Good! It’s easy to be an active, engaged listener when things are going well. But it’s even easier to ignore people when things are difficult. You know how you probably get super excited when your team is about to go to the World Series but you pay less attention when they’re terrible? You should treat your friends and colleagues the exact same way!
I hope you take these lessons to heart, devoted readers. Because I’m dead serious – if I have to sit through another wedding where people look happy and hope to remain that way for the rest of their lives, I’ll probably have a stroke. Especially if the reception doesn’t have an open bar.