I've recently returned to Conglomo America after 13 yrs; a few in a different industry and 10 self employed (web development). I'm used to working at my own pace which was probably 12-16 hr days 4-6 days a week (I enjoyed it).

I had forgotten how much I can't stand the basic corporate atmosphere... the backbiting, he-said/she-said, idiot managers/officers, "that manager sucks", "this guy is a moron", "that chick is hot" bla bla bla. I even took a position that is well beneath my knowledge simply in the hopes that i wouldn't have to deal with the foibles of other managers/leads. (It's a bonus that I don't have a laptop and phone where I'm at someone's 24h beck and call.) I don't mind people, but I don't like dealing with peoples irrelevant crap (see the "get to the point" post for a perfect example).

In other words, I'm kind of an asshole. But I don't want to be an asshole. Because as much as I dislike the atmosphere in general, the atmosphere has people in it. I don't want to lump the people, the individuals into the bucket of "you just work here" because then I'll probably just be an asshole. And that will make the work that much harder to get done if my coworkers just don't want to be around me.

Back before I changed industries (used to just be in IT) I used to play the game every day. But not only have I forgotten how to do it, the atmosphere seems to have changed in ways that I can't quite wrap my head around.

So I need some help with:

  1. How do I work with the people but then get the heck away when they start into the cliquey talky crap? I've been busted a couple times rolling my eyes and walking away, but that's asshole.

  2. How the hell do I make it thru the day without staring at the clock and talking myself thru it "cmon man you can make it... there's a bottle with your name on it when you get home." I'm seriously out of the habit of punching a clock.

  3. As a pretty direct person in general, how do I not come off as just a gruff asshole?

BTW, I'm not concerned about people liking me, I just don't want to be an asshole. If I were an Android App, I'd not be concerned about getting 5 star reviews, I just don't want 1s. Working here is tuff enuf as it is, I don't want peoples opinions of me making it even harder.

(FYI, I had a small handful of regular clients and they all dried up almost all at once all for different reasons. And then my savings ran out before I could catch up.)

  • 4
    1. You cant. 2. You dont 3. You will. The advantage of working in corporate America is that most days you get to go home at 5 and you know how much money you are going to have on Friday regardless of how well you did. The first 2 problems are some of what you have to put up with for that security. The last one is how you deal with the first 2 with out going crazy. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 31 '13 at 22:12
  • 1
    Welcome to the difference between a startup and corporate America. – enderland Jan 31 '13 at 22:41
  • 1
    @Chad that's pretty defeatist. Sounds like you've just given up. I refuse to let this job eat my soul. I'd like to come home Friday evening with as much soul as I started with on Monday and i think not being an asshole is key to that. – monsto Jan 31 '13 at 23:24
  • 1
    Is it possible there is an age thing going on here? As some-one in the latter half of his career, I find that the norms of social interaction have changed greatly since I started working. Today's younger workers have grown up in a world of texting and tweeting. They find e-mail to be a slow form of communication, while some of us compare it to sending a letter :). This is not bad, it's just different. During the time that you were working solo, this whole interaction style changed. I love my kids, but I would find it hard to work with them because we don't communicate the same way. – cdkMoose Feb 1 '13 at 17:39
  • 5
    @suslick, lots of people who work for startups don't get things done, that's why so many fail. And lots of us that work in the corporate world do get things done. (and vice versa of course) There is a different culture at each type of organization but you can accomplish things in any organization. – HLGEM Feb 1 '13 at 18:15

Honestly what works for me is to be an emotionless bastion of reason while at work.

No need to be rude or express distaste with others behaviors actions and words, just blankly stare at people until they have something productive to talk about. They won't want to associate with you because they will think you are boring, and you won't want to associate with them because you don't want to be seen with chatty unproductive people. Imagine that you are Spock (the Vulcan, not the child psychologist) and you will find that these kinds of people will naturally ignore you.

In the corporate world it is important to avoid being seen associating with certain people, and to only have water-cooler style talks with important, productive or preferred people.

| improve this answer | |
  • TTHHIIIISS. I like the Spock thing. Coupled with the reason thing, I can totally get away with coming off as kinda someone that just doesn't get humor. To clarify for some, I do not care what ppls opinion is of me. if people think I'm an asshole, tho, it will get in the way. If ppl think I'm devoid of personality, we'll all still be productive AND I won't have to hear it. I also realized that, much like the conversation between Carlos and Coach in Breakfast Club, it's not the atmosphere or the ppl that's changed, it's ME that's changed. So now I have to deal with THAT. – monsto Feb 1 '13 at 14:32
  • @monsto it's not the atmosphere or the ppl that's changed, it's ME that's changed. So now I have to deal with THAT That is a very self aware thing to say and it isn't disparaging to people who have different personalities or think about problems in different ways than yourself. Don't delude yourself though that you don't care what others think of you. We all care what others think of us, just perhaps not what unimportant people think. We certainly get upset when an a-hole manager thinks you are a troublemaker. You were clearly upset enough to post this question. – maple_shaft Feb 1 '13 at 14:40
  • 2
    This seems like a really good way to make yourself hate your job and life. Your work does affect you outside of work, and if you focus on making yourself a boring automated machine at work for 40+ hours a week, it IS going to affect you when you go home or leave work. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a complete fool. – enderland Feb 1 '13 at 18:53

Part of the problem is your perceptions. These people are not morons, they are extroverts. Chatting about social issues is part of how they get things done. It is normal and expected behavior for them. You sound like an introvert which is why you don't get what they do. So the first step is to stop thinking of them as morons because they are different from you. People can often perceive when you are putting them down even when it is only mentally becasue your actionsand body language speak louder than words. So stop doing it. Part of why they think you are an ass is because they know you think they are morons. No one likes someone who is patronizing and who clearly dislikes them.

Another issue some people have is that they think everyone else is stupid if they aren't experts in their own chosen field. I assure you, some of these people you think of as morons are very good at what they do for a living and some of them are very nice, good people and very few of them are actually stupid.

There are far fewer introverts than extroverts, so you need to get along in their world as they make the rules. So accept that a certain amount of social interaction will help you get along better in the workplace. Think of it as a required but boring task like doing your timesheet. So spend a few minutes each day actually socializing. You don't have to get over-friendly, but smiles and hellos and the occasional remark about the Super Bowl and asking about their family grease the wheels of commerce and help you be more respected in the company. It may not seem fair, but it is just how life is.

Another thing that people need to realize if that you don't have to like a person to work with him or her effectively. What you have to do is to not ever overtly show your dislike. Next, treat that person exactly the same way you treat somone you do like. That means being cooperative when need be, it means telling them information they will need to do their jobs, it means complimenting them when they do something right. It means treating everyone you meet with respect. That means no eyerolls, no sarcastic comments, no avoiding them and making their job and your job harder as a result.

Even if you are not chatty, if you treat everyone (and I do mean everyone including those below you in the organization struture) with respect and kindness, then you will get respect and kindness back. Show concern for their lives by asking about their children and sending sympathy cards and celebrating their successes. Help people out when they need it - even when not asked. Do things like help the person get the door open when she has her hands full. Helping doesn't have to take long or be a burden. Nor does it require a long chat. It costs you five minutes to send a thank you note or fill our a form for an employee reward or send someone's boss an email or helping to clean up the mess that someone made when they tripped and fell and spilled coffee everywhere. People remember kind actions and they will return them.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    This should be required reading for anyone going into software or engineering. Very well said. – enderland Feb 1 '13 at 16:13
  • +1 for "Another thing that people need to realize if that you don't have to like a person to work with him or her effectively." i agree wholeheartedly, contrary to Zappos CEO who says "'I Fire Those Who Don't Fit Our Company Culture": inc.com/allison-fass/…. if you require your employees/colleagues to fit a certain behavioral model just to make it more digestable for you to be around them, that, to me, is an example of fascism and utter intolerance. – amphibient Feb 1 '13 at 17:18
  • 2
    @foampile, it also makes for an ineffective organization as different professions need different personality types. And different corporate functions need different cultures too. I would not expect the culture of the sales department to work well in accounting. And believe me I don't want to fire accountants for not being creative (If that is the culture I want) - creative accounting is the same thing as Fraud. Some professions are there to keep you from getting into trouble. And by firing those who don't work the same way you do, you will get into trouble as you won't hear the objections. – HLGEM Feb 1 '13 at 18:04
  • couldn't have said it better myself – amphibient Feb 1 '13 at 18:19

I applaud your degree of self-awareness! Knowing yourself, your triggers and your weaknesses is half the battle in surviving the job and its potential pitfalls. That being said, here is my advice:

  1. Do not leave home without your "filter". Every eye-roll and dismissive comment makes your tenancy more difficult and alienating for you and your colleagues. You can think, "You're an idiot!" but cannot say it or let your face show it. Use the filter!
  2. Become St. Monsto by being personally organized, dependable and encouraging of your colleagues, (work-related only - stay out of their personal business by feigning a phone call when you're at risk of being sucked into a personal, drama-filled bitch-fest.)
  3. You will not believe how differently you will be treated by smiling at people. We're all in this life together and even if we hate having to settle for our current life-situation, none of us gets through this life alone. Smiles and consideration are the society's lubrication. Who knows, you might soon actually enjoy the perks of getting paid regularly and all the associated perks of working for someone else.

You sound smart - you can make this work!

| improve this answer | |

I suppose, your question is you are thinking that you are an asshole and You dont want to be called like one. Please correct me if I am wrong. I feel the solution for the situation is simple. See, I completely dont like the corporate culture and its politics for various reasons. I tell you how I go about making my mind to live in the corporate jungle.

  1. If I say I dont like the people's crap and I dont want to deal with them, I loose lot of good opportunities and you are actually being controlled by other people. Since I feel more than half of the world population is full of crap according to me. So What I do is "I accept people as they are"

  2. The other side is " I think I am perfect,But others may have different opinion about myself ". So It is always best to keep things in perspective.

  3. I feel it is fairly easier to just go alone and work private compared to the challenge of working in a corporate environment and be productive and happy. So I want to challenge myself

Finally, It is about your choices. If you just want to be doing just the self works,there would be no problem. The problem is that you want to come in to the corporate culture, So You have to adjust yourself accordingly.

| improve this answer | |
  • here's the thing: if I can accept people thinking me an asshole, then they should be able to accept when I think them a moron. Additionally, I expect them to be able to tell me why I'm an asshole because I can quantify exactly why they are morons. The problem is that most people can't accept being told a plain truth yet they want to be able to tell the world their version of the truth. Ain't nobody got time for that. – monsto Feb 1 '13 at 14:52
  • 3
    The problem is that most people can't accept being told a plain truth yet they want to be able to tell the world their version of the truth. I have a friend I would like to introduce you too, its called Humanity, I don't think you've met. – maple_shaft Feb 1 '13 at 15:22

Like many developers, you just don't like the contraint and want to code when you're in the zone. For someone who works 12-16 hrs/day, surely you can manage to have it overlap 9-5. Then when everyone else goes home, you'll be able to get some work done. Your boss won't mind.

In the mean time, keep your head down, put in some ear buds and focus on the task at hand. I don't know what it is, but I've sat in the center of the sales staff cubical section and all the sales calls never bothered me, listening to one person talk for an entire year about her wedding plans nearly drove me insane.

Make sure you have lunch with other people. This is a great time for everyone to get the social gossipy stuff out of their systems and hopefully they won't feel a need to slip it in to you during the work day.

| improve this answer | |
  • To clarify, I don't wk 12-16 NOW... that was when I worked for myself. Further, i think I'd rather sit alone and count my ass for an hour than have lunch with some of these ppl. ALL of them are like the blonde frat guy in Office Space. – monsto Feb 1 '13 at 14:37

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .