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!
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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!

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


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