Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hacking it

I look around the perimeters of my cubicle into the windows of coworkers offices. It's depressing. As my higher-ups meet in secret, I always wonder if they talk about me, and I think back to what I might have done lately to upset the delicate balance in the office politics equilibrium.

Who hates me and would throw me under a bus at a moments notice? Who would go to bat for me when they aren't sure if I'm as right as I say I am? Who's on my side, or working in an interest that will keep me in the black?

I bet a lot of people think that working as a journalist (even though I am really not a journalist yet, although I secretly wish that people would consider me as one) that office politics and backstabbing would be less of an issue, if not marginal. I'm afraid that it's even moreso a problem. We operate in a public sphere, so perception is everything. I've found that there are some people that idolize the way others perceive them, and would sacrifice another person to that idol if necessary. That's just the way it is.

But even more discouraging is that I am uncertain whether or not I have the talent to do this. I don't know anymore. Am I leaning on my deaf ear more because I just can't produce? Am I making excuses for myself? Can I hack it?

I must've used the word "fair" around 40 kajillion times yesterday. "I'd rather be fair than want people to like me," I said. But that's not totally true. I've been careless. I've said things to people before I've had time to take them to heart, an advantage you have on the page but not socially. I've unintentionally singed a few bridges. If only I had the opportunity to proof my conversations prior to publication... alas.

All I can say is I'm sorry, but what's going unsaid is that I lack faith in myself. I make quick decisions every day that I constantly doubt. There is a three-person-deep backstop behind me that should absorb my crashes, but it fails me. Who do I have to blame but myself?

(sorry for being so cryptic, but that's just how it is.)


MattJ said...

I have always assumed that the journo-sphere would absolutely be the most amplified office politics environment there is. I have little experience of the US printed news, but over here the most popular papers are those written by sub-simian, barely literate, soulless hacks. Journalism, like politics, attracts snakes and the honourable. Sadly it's rare that those with integrity get their voice, invariably the snake with the sugared tongue gets the lead. We have a phrase for those people over here 'I wouldn't piss on them if they were on fire'.

All you can do is stick to what you believe - the odds are against you but sometimes the good ones make it! remember, only cream and bastards rise - you're definitely the cream here ;)

Olivia said...

I second Matt's comment...

And "singed a few bridges", that's a good one.

lunaliar said...

Maybe I've just had an exceptionally bad run of luck lately. It's just that the people I office with are slow to praise and quick to audibly enumerate perceptions of incompetence. I hope that one day I can be in a position that I will be able to reward people who try, people who do want to make a difference, instead of making them feel marginal.

Sometimes I feel that if the people I worked with really believed in me I might be some measure of success. Yet still I'm fed busy work and other administrative duties. Honestly, Liv, I know you'd be an unparalleled success here in the states, but you choose to fight one of the most narrow job markets in the world to live in London. I'm beginning to understand your vantage point more and more.

Olivia said..., I am losing faith in my own vantage point.

Here even more so than in the States, overqualified people only get to do admin or at a stretch secretarial work, and that is where I am.

If or when I do go back to the States, my family here will say "I told you so." And more and more, the cost of living here, the hard life and struggle, is beginning to outweigh the fact that I am in a cultural city.

You know, when I went to the cultural backwater of Orangeville, Ontario, where my Canadian relatives live, I nearly thought I would not mind being tucked away at the little museum there. London seemed so far away, and as I was out of her clutches she didn't seem so important anymore. Your aspirations are only as big as your competition? Better to be content in a small town than a nobody in a big town?

Do you see what I am driving at?

lunaliar said...

I get what you're saying, Liv. In the journalism program at A&M I was a big fish. I was one of the rare students with drive and some inkling of talent, one that could photograph and write, one that sat in the front of the class and gave cues to the rest. When a group project came around, everyone wanted to partner with me.

Now that I'm in the office I'm at and I'm crushed by the overwhelming collective talents of my coworkers (who have, given, been in this industry much longer than I have) I can't seem to see myself as a success any longer. I can't compete because I don't have a peer.

Liv, you've been living in London for how long now? Maybe it was the experience you needed, the ability to visit the noctures of your study at will, to while away days amongst such great history and monoliths of mankind.

Maybe it was never an "i told you so" situation to begin with. You needed London once, and now you don't.

I think I've answered my own question.

MattJ said...

I think the harsh realities of any industry is that ego often trumps ability. Stop me if I'm wrong Jo but It sounds to me you work for what i term a 'Dead Man's Shoes' company. A definite pecking order with no room for advancement unless the person 'above' you moves on and you take their place?

I am quite lucky in the conmpany I work for, I have some ability and (for once I will put British Modesty aside!) excellent communication skills - it means I get some opportunity, but I still see those with just the mouth and no actual ability advancing ahead of far more worthy and valuable people.

Seems to me you are in an industry dominated by ego and if your talent isn't being recognised, you need to look at new ways to advance or pastures new because trust me when I say, there is nothing worse than grinding it out in a job you used to love but has had all it's life sucked out of it.

I don't know how useful you will find it but one of the areas I have an interest in, and am told I am good at, is illicting feedback from colleagues and managers, coaching and motivating. There are specific methods you can learn to get the best from the people around you and vice versa. Anyway, I'm rambling - if the thought of me as a motivator hasn't given you a hysterics induce heart attack, I'd be happy to talk/mail about it ;)

MattJ said...

This is not good enough! Everytime I don't visit your site you sneak a half dozen posts in! when i check you every day you ar nowhere to be seen! back to work woman!

lunaliar said...

Will update in just a sec! You know I'm moving, you silly Brit! :)

MattJ said...

Pah! that old chestnut eh? :p

Any jobs in IT Service Delivery going around your way? I am looking for a change! hehehe!

Olivia said...

Matt - I need to correct someone and I have chosen you. It's "eliciting feeback" not "illiciting". tut tut

Jo - good luck with the move. that'll be me next week!!!

MattJ said...

Oh wow! I am actaully feeling ashamed, I am usually such a grammar nazi that I deserve to be picked up on that! I have no idea why I typed that, I blame it on the fact I type too quickly for my brain to keep up ;)

Olivia said...

Yeah, lots of people use that excuse :P

Jo - I doubt you have ever had this many comments on one post!

lunaliar said...

You're right! I haven't! :)


MattJ said...

There must be a moving bug! i am sending my CV out this week before my Italy trip - I wanna house too!

*pout, stamp foot*


She only has this many posts 'cos she is too bone-idle to update so we have somewhere else to comment! heheheh

Olivia said...

it has just occurred to me that I won't be blogging for a while after I move too...on SATURDAY!


MattJ said...

OK, this is silly - it's a house not a State! I don't know - you people, you never think of me when you make these decisions. Selfish I call it.