Smiling Tigers

I used to think that working hard and being competent at your job was enough to succeed in the corporate world. Not anymore. I’ve seen loads of incompetent workers filling positions ahead of efficient and reliable people, and I’ve always wondered why.

The savvy corporate jockey has many tricks up his sleeve, he is wise to internal politics, understands and befriends the people with any real influence, he also has strategies to increase his profile and can identify and avoid the pitfalls, saving precious energy. The one to watch out for however, is the Smiling Tiger.

The Smiling Tiger is not necessarily smart, but they are cunning. They are not afraid to sabotage their colleagues to further there own agenda and typically do it in a passive aggressive manner. They will pretend to be your best friend to your face then work behind the scene to undermine you and destroy your credibility.

Not long ago, I started a contract as a trainer for a contact centre. I joined a team of 4 other trainers who all – bar one – had just started and were also on contracts, we all also knew that come the end of the contract that there was a possibility of being made permanent. However out of a wider training team of 15 contractors, only 3 would be kept on. I didn’t really care because I will probably be moving on regardless at the end of the contract; however this fact was not enough to stop me being thrust into a rollercoaster ride of hidden agenda’s, passive aggression and clique-like-behaviour.

Thankfully I have managed to ride out the storm and am at a point where I can just do my job and concentrate on having fun, however it was an emotional and frustrating 2 months in which I observed and thought a lot about the prominence of passive aggression in the workplace. I write this now with the intent of sharing my observations and strategies on how to deal with it.

Identify the Tigers

The first and most crucial step to dealing with passive aggression in the workplace is identifying it. Once you identify someone’s true colours you may act accordingly. This then begs the question, how do you identify someone that may act in a passive aggressive manner?

The instant best friend – Have you ever met someone that instantly acts like your best friend? It can be hard to spot, because it feeds your ego and you may be tempted to overlook it. If a charming person is smiling at you warmly and calling you babe, it may make you feel good, you may feel like this person fully appreciates or admires you. Don’t be naive and think this is truly the case; a relationship of mutual respect takes time to build and cannot be shortcut. If someone is showing you an unusual amount of respect or familiarity too quickly, it is likely that it is false.

The Pot Stirrer – snitching on someone will often have nasty repercussions, if someone learns they have been snitched on, their first reaction will be to find out who has dropped them in it and why. This is likely to illicit a negative emotional response and foster feelings of resentment, anger and revenge. The Pot Stirrer knows this, this is why he will develop strategies for snitching in a cunning or round-about way that will not lead directly back to him. If you ever notice someone dropping ‘innocent’ comments to someone that will then pass on that information be aware. If they have no qualms about doing it, would they really worry about doing it to you?

Incongruent Behaviour – less easily spotted is incongruent behaviour. Examples of this include people stealing your credit for work you have done, or even more cunning; volunteering to do something for you and intentionally neglecting to do it or doing it poorly. If the ultimate responsibility rests with you, be aware of situations when you are dependent on a Smiling Tiger. Micromanaging them through it or always chasing them to do it can be time consuming and emotionally exhausting. Always consider alternatives; can someone else do it for you? Can you engineer it so they are directly responsible for the quality of work? If not, perhaps it might be easier in the long run to just do the work yourself.

The Back Stabber – the most easily spotted is the backstabber, if someone is chatting amicably with their colleague and being friendly or familiar, watch their actions once that person has left. If they immediately turn to you or someone else and make snide comments it is obvious that they have no problems engaging in passive aggressive behaviour. Also pay particular attention to their facial expression, once the colleague has left, does their smile instantly turn into a scowl? Was the smile even genuine in the first place?

This leads onto the next strategy, once identified you can now…..

Avoid them like the plague – the easiest way to deal with a Smiling Tiger is to simply identify, then avoid them. Usually motivated by their own ambition they will only seek to undermine you once they perceive you as a threat. By avoiding them, you run less risk of provoking their envy. A smaller moving target is a less attractive target, by avoiding you are giving them less ammunition to fuel their fires with, they may leave you alone to pay more attention to people they perceive as bigger threats. However, you may sometimes be forced to interact with these people and avoidance is not an option. In this case you will need to …..

Seem to submit to their will – on the surface you submissive and non-confrontational. Understand: a Smiling Tiger cannot be influenced by logic or reason, attempting to argue with them will only exhaust and frustrate you. Better to work behind the scenes and appeal to their self-interest. Arguing also has the unwanted affect of making them defensive; unwittingly you will be encouraging them to spend more time and energy devising ways to undermine you. Let them have their little victories, you may feel like you are swallowing your pride, but you can see the bigger picture. If you really feel the need to resist, then you must….

Fight fire with fire – passive aggression is best fought with passive aggression. Use the above strategies to retaliate and do exactly what they sought to do to you. Remember to always keep your cool, if done correctly you may cause them to react emotionally. If they have an outburst, then it is time to rejoice. By simply remaining calm and detached you will be highlighting their childish behaviour, use your own detached reaction to contrast just how ridiculous their actions are.

To Facebook, or not to Facebook? That is the question.

photo by webgeek
photo by webgeek

Recently a friend from my old work sent me an out of the blue email. It was a standard message, friendly banter, disparaging remarks about my sexuality and some sort of quip about how amazing it was that out of 1 billion sperm, I was the fastest.

All joking aside, one point that struck me as interesting was that the company had decided to ban Facebook. Again.

It’s obvious that senior managers perceive Facebook and social networking during work time as unacceptable and a roadblock to productivity, however the back and forth clearly indicates that they’re not sure about the implications of banning sites such as Facebook altogether.

The Power of Expectation

Generation Y workers have an intimate relationship with technology. These stats from Wikipedia state:

  • 97% own a computer
  • 97% have downloaded music
  • 94% own a cell phone
  • 76% use instant messaging and social networking sites
  • 75% of college students have a Facebook profile and most of them check it daily

Simply put, the younger working generation is used to instant gratification, they expect to be able to access social media and probably have an addiction to doing so. With social networking, affordable web hosting and the ability to easily host blogs, people have come to depend on their connectivism.

What are the implications of taking this away?

Companies such as Google, with their gaming rooms, lounges and relaxed policies realise that the more free an employee feels, the more productive they will be.

Generation Y aside, taking away workers rights will only serve to undermine their motivation. Senior managers and supposed leaders need to realise that people will perceive taking away access to resources they’ve previously had (or believe they have to right to access) as a betrayal of trust.

Two steps forward, one step back?

If you’ve worked for a large corporate, you’re probably been to some sort of ‘Company Values’ training. The purpose being to instil the company values into you, so that you act in the best interests of the company; customers are the lifeblood of our business, increase your circle of influence, compete on value not price – and all that sort of wank.

These training sessions are not cheap, if a company is willing to spend so much money in order to get people invested, why throw it all away by fostering resentment towards the majority of their staff?

An alternative strategy?

That’s all good and well, but there is that niggly little fact that perhaps using Facebook does actually also lower productivity. With all the games, applications and video’s it’s no surprise. However the question needs to be asked: is there a way that staff could get their social networking fix without a massive drop in productivity?
Why not implement an in-house or bespoke social media package, there are many open source options available and if it enabled staff to feel free or empowered while still having some control over what can be accessed it has to at least be worth a shot.

No Compromise

photo by mumblyjoe
photo by mumblyjoe

Think Big

My goal is to understand my true goal: My life purpose.

I will not permit myself to be concerned with trivialities. I shall not take liberties, nor burden my loved ones with unfair expectation.

I will free myself from concern for material wealth, social status and power – thereby allowing myself to conquer it.

I will seek resistance in all things, embrace novelty and challenge, endeavouring to continually learn and grow.

I will study the past in order to know the future.

I will not permit myself to be dulled by mediocrity. In this I shall not compromise.

Argument – a Waste of Time and Energy?

photo by papercuts
photo by papercuts

Have you ever been in a group discussion, disagreed with what someone is saying and felt a burning desire to ‘show them the light’? If so – and assuming you acted upon it – how did they respond?

I’m willing to guess not well. People are naturally distrustful of words, they are defensive and stubborn. Beliefs are shaped by experience and can harden into conviction. While your goal might be to influence someone to your school of thought, by arguing you may inadvertently be hardening their resistance.

On the surface, people may appear to agree with you, or at least listen to what you say. The reality is they are probably humouring you or waiting for their turn to speak. Argument is not an effective tool for influence and can have the negative effect of leaving you frustrated.

Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.

If arguing doesn’t work, then how do you change someone’s mind?

First of all, be careful not to totally discount argument. Circumstances may arise when arguing can be beneficial, you may even consider intentionally losing an argument as a means of influence.

When you let someone else win an argument, often you both end up winners.
Richard Carlson

People need to come to their own conclusions

The single most effective method for influencing someone’s behavior is to lead them down a path in which they make their own decision. If they believe they came up with the idea themselves, the more successful you have been.

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Nubtub Goes Dofollow – Get Your Free Links Here

Photo by Hamed Saber
Photo by Hamed Saber

What is Nofollow?

By default, WordPress – and most major blogging platforms – have a rel=”nofollow” attribute in the comments section. What this means is that if you post a comment and include your website, that the link will now count towards raising your search engine rankings.

By using a plugin that enables Dofollow, users are able to post a comment, with a link to their site that will count towards increase their search engine rankings.

Why use Nofollow?

The Nofollow tags exist mainly to stop spammers from posting useless comments. Also in terms of basic SEO, outbound links take some of your PageRank juice from the page, so aspiring web-domination rankers won’t want people to have control over their page’s outbound links.

While the majority of blogs still use the Nofollow attribute there has been an increasing trend towards using Dofollow. Communities such as Bumpzee are starting to spring up as bloggers are beginning to see the value in offering Dofollow.

Why Dofollow

Why then, would a blogger want to have the Nofollow attribute removed? Simple, to encourage participation and reward contribution.

Most bloggers are constantly on the looking for ways to raise their profile, increase traffic and rankings. The major source of this is quality inbound links.

Dofollow is a great way of giving something back to the community, but even if your motives are not altruistic Dofollow is a viable strategy for building your brand.

For me personally, I believe success on the internet is about adding as much value as possible for the minimum user cost. My goals for Nubtub are to write quality content that either helps people or challenges their current perspective, to increase traffic and community participation. In order to achieve these results I results I realise I need to offer as much incentive to readers as possible, that is where dofollow comes in.

What are your thoughts, Nofollow or Dofollow?

And if you answered Dofollow, is it because you want to give something back or as a tactic to grow your blog?

UPDATE – Aly from SEOAly and Pet Insurance pointed me to an even better dofollow plugin that allows you to customize and specifiy a lot of options, such as the user must comment x times before the link turns dofollow. The default was 10 but I’ve set mine to 3 :p – Thanks Aly

So I quit my job

photo by Shayan

Yes that’s right, I have quit my job.

When I first moved to New Zealand at the age of 22 I was more concerned about having a good time then my career or working. 5 years later, a couple of rungs up the corporate ladder and living and working in the UK I still have that nagging feeling in my gut that something just isn’t right.

During this time I’ve worked for a couple of different Fortune 500 companies and have observed some disturbing trends, as well as having gained some valuable insights into the true nature of big business and the effect it has on people.

In his book, Daniel Goleman talks about an emerging phenomenon of people in the 40’s and 50’s suddenly reassessing their lives, deciding what’s truly important and reordering their priorities.

New studies show, for example, a sharp rise in people’s altruism at midlife, a key sign of new priorities. Psychoanalysts now see this increased caring as the flowering in middle age of emotional development that begins in childhood.


The key phrase there is: ‘the flowering in middle age of emotional development that begins in childhood’.

My questions is; if this begins in early childhood and only starts to flower in middle age, in terms of emotional and spiritual development (don’t freak out, I’m not a hippy) what happens in our 20’s and 30’s? Continue reading

.me domain name auctions – get in quick!

dot me auction

On July the 17th .me domain name extensions became available to the public. .Me is the national top level domain for Montenegro. Since then there has been a frenzy for people looking to bag an excellent investment.

Most people however, don’t really care what country the .me represents so much as the fact that it has a great ring to it. Marketers have quickly identified the branding potential and have snapped up cheap purchases knowing there will later be a market for it.

Aaron Wall blogged about it which is how I found out about the .me extensions being available. It’s not even a month but I wish I had known a bit earlier.

If you’re in the market don’t despair though, most names are still available. I was looking through big american sports teams and many were not yet registered. The only downside is that they are more expensive then your standard .com or .org to register.

The two purchases I ended up going for were and for a project I’m going to start. Others that I considered were and If you’re in the market for a new domain or fancy trying your creative skills to find a gem that hasn’t been taken yet then get cracking! :p

If anyone makes any purchases or finds any good ideas but don’t quite want to take a punt of them please post them in the comments.

Giving Specific, Timely Feedback – The Key to Maintaining Motivation

Trying to get a blog off the ground is hard work. After the initial period of excitement died off I found it harder to continue writing and thinking about ways to generate inbound links.

A month had passed since my last post and I began working on other projects, letting Nubtub slide lower down the list of priorities.

Until I finally received a positive comment on a post I was particularly proud of.

I suddenly found myself re-energised and inspired to continue writing. This is a pretty simple concept which is applicable to many areas of life and not just work, but it begs the question:

How can I use this knowledge to my advantage?

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