In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Life Lesson Number Two:

How to Keep Your Job

Ever wonder how incompetent, transparent ass-kissers keep their jobs?

Life Lesson Number Two:
Your job is not what you think your job is. Your job is to make your boss happy every time they see you.

Listen up, Twentysomethings.* As good as you think you are at your job, as good as you in fact may be: if your boss is not happy to see you every morning -- because you make life more pleasant for them, because you are cheerful, focused on their needs, seem to enjoy the work and adapt to their personal management style (and weaknesses) -- you are not going to have your job for very long. Truth.
It takes a while to learn this for yourself. Take it from me, someone who has been fired multiple times from ridiculous jobs, despite extreme competency. (Truth!)

It doesn't matter how good you are if you're boss doesn't look forward to seeing you in the morning.

Let me repeat: Your job is to do your job, but more importantly it is to make your boss' work day more pleasant. Don't go to them with problems. Go to them with solutions to the problems you have. Be happy to see them. Laugh at their jokes. Drop whatever you are doing when they are talking to you, and make their priority -- that stupid 400-page report they want you to read and summarize that says nothing of value, or that article they saw 4 weeks ago in the Times or the Journal? -- your priority. Show polite interest in their life and well being. Be competent. Be punctual. But be liked. Be (fake) happy. Be (fake) jovial, if you must. Be (fake) interested in their stories about their children. Even when they are being unreasonable, nasty or insane.

Whatever you do, don't entertain that voice inside that says "I deserve to be respected by my boss!"

Maybe. But that's not their job. And they didn't hire you to respect you. They hired you to respect them.

In every power struggle, the more powerful person wins, every time. So get power on your side by being the person who makes their workplace a tolerable place to be.

That's why incompetent, transparent ass-kissers prosper. The boss only sees the ass-kissing in tiny -- but pleasant --doses.

The only thing working for you if you are not making your boss happy every day is the fact that the only thing worse than firing you is interviewing, hiring and training someone to replace you.

That's not to say every job is worth keeping. I've quit a few because I wasn't respected, because the version of me my boss was reflecting back had nothing to do with who I actually was. In each of those cases, however, I could still be in those soul-destroying jobs had I just heeded my own advice. (Glad I didn't. Some douchebags deserved every arched eyebrowed glare, every dismissive sigh I could muster. And I could muster plenty. )

*This advice diminishes in imperativeness in your 30s and 40s, but still applies. See above.

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