Q. Dear Mr Know It All,
I was recently told that either my friend or I would get the promotion for senior editor and I just can’t wrap my mind around this. I decided I wanted to work for a magazine only recently, but he’s wanted this his whole life. I feel that I can’t take away something my friend has worked so hard for. I’m not saying that I don’t want the promotion — if I was against any other person, I’d be completely fine and willing to crush the little bugger if I had to, but this is my best friend. I can’t deal this blow to all her hard work and aspirations. I also fear that if I get promoted, we may not remain such good friends. Can you help me out?
To crush or not to crush
A. It’s pretty much an established fact that the universe has a perverse sense of humour. People who work all their life to achieve something often have to watch the prize being whisked away from right under their nose by someone who wasn’t even in contention to begin with. It’s happened before and let me assure you, it will happen again. And again. And again… because that’s just how things work in this big, bad world of cold, heartless corporations and out-of-line promotions! I might sound like an insensitive twit for saying this, but you feeling sorry for your friend looks good only in theory. In real life, it wouldn’t take me (or any other potential employer, for that matter) two seconds to write you off as a softie with too much baggage for the new job. A magazine editor is supposed to be a hotshot who knows precisely what he wants and how to get it — there’s no room for sentiments in the recipe for professional success. If you want to go far, you’ve got to look out for yourself first. Remember, self-control is overrated and being an adult all the time sucks. If your friend can’t handle a little competition or, after all said and done, doesn’t want to play with you anymore because you won, it’s his problem to email me about. You just do your job, do it well, and screw everyone else!
Q. Dear Mr Know It All,
My boss is a tyrant in the making. She’s lazy, inefficient and never comes to work on time. Then she keeps me extra hours to help her out with her work. If I make even the slightest error, she yells at me and blames me for her work not being completed on time, even though it’s her fault for worrying more about her beauty sleep than her job. Besides, I’m not even paid for the extra hours I put in. I can’t tell her how I feel because it will compromise my career progression. However, it’s irritating trying to cover her tracks. What should I do?
A. Life gives us plenty of choices, and you have one to make right here, right now as well: you can either sit on your behind and share painful monster-boss anecdotes with anyone who’ll listen, hoping your problems will miraculously go away on their own. Or, you could listen to me, stop moping and own up to your mistake of letting a negative influence bog you down like this. I mean, sure, I admit a boss-subordinate relationship has an interesting if twisted dynamic… even a top-notch suit-wearing professional sometimes can’t help but feel the urge to walk out the door when the boss walks in. Or simply wag the tail and roll over to avoid unpleasant confrontations ensuing from unrealistic expectations. But really, how long can you go on like this? Sometimes you have to pimp your worth to be taken seriously. There’s no shame in it. Remember that you can’t let a bad supervisor emasculate you simply because she has a nameplate and you don’t. More often than not, it is our inability to stand up for ourselves that actively feeds the egos of workplace tyrants. So unless your job description includes a yo-ma-bitch clause, or your boss bought you off eBay, start demanding a little respect from her. Overcome your fear of getting fired and tell her off when she’s being unfair…and no matter what you do, don’t log another hour of overtime without making sure you’re paid for it, because that’s just criminal!
Q. Dear Mr Know It All,
Throughout my life as a student I have been a hard worker but I did not get the grades I wanted. Maybe my expectations were really high … I am not exactly sure. But I feel that I may not be going about studying in the right way. Even my teachers suggest that one has different ways of grasping a subject — it can be through the kinaesthetic sense (where you learn only what you wrote in your very own writing), the visual sense (photographic memory) and the auditory sense. The only problem is I don’t exactly know what my way is. Please help!
A. If you hate your grades so much, here’s a little exercise for you: Stop wasting your time on your usual method of study and try everything else you just listed here. Trial and error, baby — that’s the name of the game!
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, December 4th, 2011.
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