Too Much Information, Part 2

September 21, 2012

You’ve been there. You wake up in the middle of the night, haunted by them.  You’ve lost your appetite, drank that extra beer, and kicked the dog, all because of them.  You’ve come home to your loving wife, or husband, or cat, looked into their eyes, and felt inadequate, less than who you thought you were, surely less than they think you are, just from a single encounter with these invaders.

They come in many forms. The new employee, all enthusiastic, with shiny new skills and a polished resume.  The guest speaker, waltzing in as if they’d figured everything out, easy as pie.  The intern, oblivious to the real world and its constraints, putting in extra time and effort, all to make you look bad.

This is the too much information that comes when new people arrive in your territory, uninhibited by all the drivel, unrealistic demands, and pernicious politics that have stripped away your shiny polish.  Waltzing in, they’re like a neon sign reminding you of the dreams and strengths and possibilities that once were yours.  Their presence activates weird fun house mirrors that simultaneously show off all their best features while making you look like the victim of some weird internal explosion that is somehow miraculously still being held together by your skin.

We say enough!  You have suffered too long already, and do not deserve this mockery.  Much better to bar them at the door, let them know they’re not welcome here. Here are some tried and true tips to do just that:

  • Remind yourself that no one can do what you do like you do it – which means that there’s no sense in getting any help from anyone else! Much better to be run a little ragged than to welcome in the inadequate interlopers.
  • If you do have a necessary encounter with these aliens, you can recover quickly by focusing intensely on whatever is most familiar and entrenched in your job.  There’s nothing like the routine of routine to cancel out new thoughts.
  • If you just can’t shake lingering thoughts like “I really do wish I still knew how to smile” or “maybe we don’t need to use carbon copies anymore” or “gee, I could learn to samba,” then immediately find a colleague, friend, or drunken stranger at a bar who understands how much you’ve lost, how hard it’s been.  They’re sure to remind you that you’ve turned out like you have for very good reasons, and, really, there’s no use crying over spilled milk.
  • And, of course, the best recourse is to face the problem head on: become a mentor.  You don’t want them to suffer like you have!

Too Much Information, Part 1

September 20, 2012

Welcome to the first in our multi-part Too Much Information series.  We hope, through this collection, to show you the benefits of  controlling information about yourself, and to give you some guidelines for doing that.  In that way, perhaps we can help to stem the rampaging tsunami of  information that is available to the world.  Really – enough already.

In this first entry, we’re going to look at a workplace situation that seems innocuous enough, or even helpful: the employee development program.  But don’t be fooled: it is actually a dangerous venue for losing control of critical information about yourself.

One of the first things on the agenda will be an assessment of some sort. This is usually presented as an opportunity to learn more about yourself – maybe your personal characteristics, or even your strengths – and to grow.   Sounds ok, right?  Why wouldn’t you want to know more about  yourself, your strengths?

Consider: what if  you – unbeknownst even to yourself – have some glaring weakness or  quirk? Maybe, despite your success so far in your career, you are completely lacking in discipline, or flexibility, or ingenuity? What if your most defining characteristic turns out to be “prone to infidelity”? What if an assessment designed to showcase your top 5 strengths instead shows only 3 strengths plus a couple of not-quite-weaknesses? Do you really want your bosses to know this, much less your co-workers?  Goodness, no.

But your boss insists.  What can you do?  Glad you asked.  Here are some ideas for you:

  1. Repeat, to yourself and others, over and over: “It’s just a silly test.  It doesn’t mean anything.”
  2. If you get to report your own results, try this: go ahead and do the assessment, then make up whatever results you want.
  3. If the results go straight to your boss, you may have to resort to this: Lie on the assessment. Then you have the happy choice of either telling your boss that you made it all up (sending the subtle, you’re-not-the-boss-of-me message), or NOT telling your boss that you made it up, and completely putting one over on him or her.

In this way, you keep all the power by either denying the validity of the results or concealing and obfuscating them. Thus, you neatly eliminate the need to actually  learn or grow, and keep control over the appearance of learning and growing!

Information is power – especially information about YOU.
Keep it well.

Relationship Advice: We’re There When You Need Us

January 14, 2012

Dear Board of MisDirectors:

I broke up with my ex-boyfriend a year ago, and he’s still blaming me for all his problems.  We only went out for three months.  Shouldn’t there be a 2-times-the-length-of-the-relationship rule about how long this can go on?

Feeling Too Powerful in Newark

Dear FTP in N,

We’re so glad you came to us for advice – you need it!  We have quickly rallied our best experts to help you sort out this all too common problem.

From The Expressor: Clearly your boyfriend has things he needs to express!  When that is the case, it really is best to just let it out, as holding back results in untold costs.  And yes, you may have noticed: “boyfriend” is the correct term here.  If he is still having such strong feelings for you, then obviously the relationship is not nearly as over as you thought.  Just sit for a moment with how that feels – you may even feel you just want to have a good cry yourself.  Once your own complex feelings have a chance to be expressed (including relief – who wants to die alone?), you’ll find that you’ll be grateful for the way your good young man has kept a light shining all this time.

From The Critic: The question needs to be asked:  just what did you do to him?  Seeing how we have wounded another person is not easy, but it’s a blessing in disguise.  Think of him as a report card, giving you feedback at how well you performed in the syllabus of love.  It sounds like you need some remedial review.  In fact, that would be a prerequisite before you make another person miserable with what can only be you toxic girlfriend ways.

From The Escalator: You have fallen for the oldest trick in the book, my dear.  How can what he suffered be anything close to what you had to deal with?  He’s obviously a needy, clingy, pathological, and perverted human being.  The best course here is an Order of Protection, combined with alerting all your girlfriends, family and co-workers about how unsafe you with him around so that you can have 24 hour protection.  Meanwhile, double up on your therapy visits, and send him the bill.

There you have it!  The advice you need, at a price you can afford, carefully designed to cover all eventualities so that you’re never at a loss.  We’re confident that if you work hard you’ll see the wisdom of combining all three of these expert opinions to make your relationship the meaning and purpose of your life.

Write again!  We’re glad to help!

Your Board of MisDirectors

The New Year Comes – Are You Ready?!?

December 28, 2011
Solar flares and storms cause chaos!
Something crashes into the earth!
Our civilization collapses!
Nature takes revenge!

The end of 2011 is quickly approaching.  Are you ready for what comes next?

As you have no doubt heard, 2012 may bring with it the End of the World.  All you have to do is Google “2012 end of the world” or “2012 doomsday” to see the truth of this.  And, rather than just one type of approaching doom, we have a whole smorgasbord of possible disasters, both familiar and unfamiliar:

  • galactic alignment opening the way for a huge black hole to swallow us
  • massive solar flares which cause all kinds of mischief (magnetic pole reversals, electrical systems disruption, devastating increases in sexual pleasure)
  • planetary collision
  • nearby stars going supernova
  • alien invasions
  • cultural collapse into complete chaos
  • weather disasters, earthquakes, global warming
  • simply the end – whatever that means

As we see it, you have a few choices.  Our various members have their favorites, so we’ll let them speak for each one.

The Planner recommends: Prepare for every possible catastrophe.  You will want to include all of the above, of course; but don’t forget to prepare yourself for the disastrous changes in your personal life that preparing for all the above will cause, as you spend all your money, time, and energy (because nothing less will do!) on preps.  But don’t worry.  When disaster strikes, they – all those people who thought you were crazy – will flock around and thank you.

The Rationalizer recommends: There’s nothing you can do about those things. So why not just enjoy the time you have left?  Those things you always wanted to do but were afraid to do – the drinking binges, the orgies (food and other), punching that annoying neighbor, pinching the (your favorite body part) of your co-worker – now’s your time!  The world will end before the lawsuits can reach the courtroom!  Go for it!

The Realist recommends: Why bother? Seriously.  What do you know about planetary collisions, solar flares, supernovas, survival, all that kind of thing? And you’re going to learn now?  I don’t think so.  Truth is, you’re screwed.  The best thing you can do is put bars over your windows and extra locks on your doors, load up your shotgun, and wait.

The Forgetter recommends: Disaster?  What disaster?  Was that supposed to happen in 2012?  Wasn’t it 2009, that recession thing? It’s over, right?

Don’t like any of those choices?  Don’t worry!
The rest of our member recommendations are coming soon!
In the meantime, you might want to brush up on your brush up on your skills – visit our advice column Why Bother?

Dear BoM: How to Deal with Inner Doubts

August 14, 2011

Are you heeding your inner voices?  Need some extra-emphatic advice?  We are here for you!  Send us your question so we can answer on the blog – benefit the entire world!  Like this brave soul, who asked us this question:

Dear Board of MisDirectors:

Sometimes when I’m in a social situation, I say or do something that, when I’m thinking about it later, I feel really embarrassed about, or worried what people will think about it.  I can spend hours thinking about something I said, trying to figure out how people reacted to it.  Then, I’m afraid to go out again, because I may do something that I end up worrying about.  It’s kind of paralyzing.  How can I get over this?

Worrying Myself Sick Over Nothing

Dear WM-SON,

We do not understand why you feel you are worrying over nothing.  Clearly, your inner voices – that is, us – are trying very hard to tell you that there is something to worry about!  If we are suggesting to you that you may have left, let us say, a poor impression, there’s a very good reason for it.  The question you should be asking is not how to get over this, but how to pay even more attention to it!  Here are a few suggestions for you.

  1. First and foremost, don’t let anything interfere.  Say you went to church or synagogue (or whatever) over the weekend, and you wake up Monday morning with the realization that you may have left the unfortunate impression that you were into group sex.  Don’t let your job get in the way of reflecting on this!  Call in sick!  (You probably feel ill, don’t you?)  You will need as much time as possible, because…
  2. The next most important thing is to review all of the conversations and interactions that both led to and resulted from this.  Don’t skimp!  Examine every single word that was said, every tone of voice, every expression on the faces of people you saw (whether or not they were looking at you!).  Every single little thing is filled with meaning – dark, ominous meaning.  It is critical that you catch every nuance!  Because…
  3. Your future behaviour around these people, and in fact everyone else as well, will be guided by what you learn from this.
    1. Ask yourself this: what critical yet irreparable flaw led you to make that mistake in the first place?  This is the flaw (well, one of the flaws) that you must in the future hide from EVERYONE IN THE WORLD.  You will need a strategy for this – could be anything from “don’t talk about farm animals anymore” to “never go out in public again”.
    2. Next, ask yourself what meanness or perversion in those other people could have led them to interpret your harmless (though really poorly phrased) remarks in that sick way.  Once you have at least one vaguely plausible answer to this, you’ll need another strategy for letting these people know you’re onto their game and think it (and they) are nothing more or less than despicable – though you will, of course, continue to talk with them as is your (fill in your religious persuasion) duty.

These are just a few starter suggestions.  There is so much more you can and should do with these kinds of situations.  As you see, they have the potential to be life-changing!  Paralysis is only the beginning!

Thanks for asking.

Your Board of MisDirectors.

Finding our advice helpful?  Of course you are!  
You can find more advice, related to topics such as dealing with rejection, cheating boyfriends, weight loss,
and so much more, in the archives of our advice column, Why Bother?

When Your Boss Needs Your Help

July 28, 2011

Dear Board of Misdirectors:

My boss is, frankly, incompetent.  He means well, I guess, but he just diddles around and can’t get things done right – indecisive and not too bright.  I feel sorry for the poor guy.  What can I do to help him?

Help our Boss Be Better

Dear HoBBB:

How thoughtful and considerate you are!

You clearly need to take charge here, since you obviously know better than your boss.  But you don’t want to embarrass the poor man, do you?  So, here’s what we suggest.

  • Make suggestions.  Well, start out with suggestions – for example: “Oh, there’s a meeting of the budget committee next week?  Well, you’re going to get Benson on that report this morning, then, aren’t you?”   If your boss has any sense at all, he’ll see this for the valuable push in the right direction that it is, and immediately enact it.  If not, you’ll have to state it more strongly, e.g.: “It would be really stupid not to get Benson working on that report ASAP.”  You don’t actually want to say, “What are you, an idiot?”  But it is perfectly acceptable – even helpful – to have that undertone.  You do want him to understand.
  • Don’t worry if it seems like you are making a lot of suggestions – if you are, it’s because he needs it.  If he doesn’t recognize that, he’s a fool.
  • Check up on him frequently.  Has he followed your suggestions?  So, for example: “Hey, has Benson got that report done yet?
  • Start the suggestions in private, but if he doesn’t listen to you, take them public.  That is, make sure there are several co-workers around when you hit him with your ideas.  Raising your voice so they can hear you a few cubicles away is a great strategy.
  • Enlist the help of your colleagues by explaining your strategy, and why it’s necessary, to them.  They will all be gratified to know that you have the situation well in hand.  Be sure to report back to them whether your boss takes your suggestions, too, so they will know who’s to blame, and who saved the day.  After all, you do want transparency in the workplace, right?  It’s important people know how things really work.
  • Note that, though you are only doing your duty and trying to be helpful, there may be a variety of negative consequences.  You may be fired at some point for something spurious like insubordination, or not getting enough work done (depending on how long it takes to explain things to your co-workers).  Or, your well-deserved promotion may go to someone else, who appears to be getting more work done or to be “working well with others.” This is clearly a problem with the system, which is massively screwed up (or your boss wouldn’t be your boss – you would).  If this happens, do continue to take the time to explain to your co-workers (as well as your spouse, family, etc.) what really happened and why, and know that you are suffering for a righteous cause.

Best wishes!

Your Board of MisDirectors
(special thanks to The Rationalizer, The Realist, and The Escalator)
Need advice on relationships, work, etiquette?  See our advice column, Why Bother?

Failure: The Subtle Revenge

July 13, 2011

Or, as we like to say, Failure: the other success.

As we point out in our advice column, Why Bother?, failure is a fantastic place to be, especially when it’s repeated, hopelessness-engendering failure.  You may ask, why?  You may say, that sounds rather dismal.  Of course it is!  That’s the beauty of it.  Let us explain.

Consider some of the arenas of failure: relationships, school, job/career, improving your lifestyle (say, eating better or exercising more, giving up addictions, etc.).  When you fail at any of these, what happens?  Pain, that’s what!  Feelings of inadequacy, guilt, perhaps shame.  You may also experience a desire to fix the blame on someone else (Your spouse just wasn’t supportive! Trauma from your childhood left you unable to cope!), angry defiance, and the like.

Hold onto those feelings!  Bank them!  They can guide you through many dangerous situations – situations which might suggest you try again.  We say, why bother?  The outcome is predictable – you’ve already experienced it – and it’s just a lot of work.  Remember the pain, the guilt, the anger, feel it all again – and give the “try again” thing a miss.  This way you save time and energy.  Success!

There may be those in your life who shake their heads at you, thinking you’re missing out on something.  There are two things you know that they don’t – and here’s the meat in the stew of failure as subtle revenge.  First, you are right and they – well, they’re just dead wrong.  You already know this.  Second, you know deep down that if you really wanted to, you could succeed in whatever it is – you’re simply choosing not to.  Therefore, you’re smarter than they are, and you win.  Success!

While there is a kind of brute-force rubbing-their-faces-in-it revenge in success, we note that the more elegant, subtle revenge lies in total, complete, abject, repeated, hopeless failure.

Make everyone sorry.

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