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Mar 15, 2008
There are many aspects to office life which you must become familiar with if you are to survive. Here are two of the most common: dealing with a promotion and love in the office.

If you have a job in a fair-sized office and you win a promotion, here's how to handle your new caste problems "gracefully." Continue at first to accept invitations to the homes of employee friends who now are your subordinates, but reciprocate only with group invitations. Then don't accept at all. Work out a set of logical excuses for not joining the group at lunch or coffee breaks. Begin to miss the social activities of your department-bowling, card sessions, etc. - occasionally, then frequently.

How To Lose Friends with Finesse

Give your friends in the office every chance to break away from you. They know you can't remain part of the old gang. Assuming you are a husband, allow your wife more time to pull away from friendships among those who are now your subordinates. She doesn't understand office protocol as you do, needs to make the transition more slowly. Break away gradually, but eventually reduce all contacts to office hours. Recognize the simple fact of office life that the higher you go, the fewer friends you'll have in the company.

Of course, I've always known that an office caste system exists in American businesses, but I'd never thought of it as anything rigid or general, and I certainly hadn't considered it among "the best hidden, vicious modern day management tools." Apparently, though, a survey of company attitudes on caste reveals, "Nearly all companies willingly have an office caste system, make no moral judgment about its ethics, defend caste almost in terms of company survival..."

Is the caste system considered "good"? Yes - and essential. One department head told of an accounting manager having two close friends working for him who were inefficient and resented by other workers. Their sloppy work lost three customers and $40,000 of business. I told the manager to crack down. He wouldn't or couldn't. I don't know which. So I fired the two workers. And I fired the manager too. He refused to learn where his job began.

How To Handle Love in the Office

Maybe you met your wife or husband through the office. Yours was the kind of honorable office romance on which all corporate managements look benignly, even though your work output may have slumped while you two were mooning about each other. Or maybe you're a bachelor or single girl hoping that through the office you'll meet someone you can marry. You also may be confident that your corporation won't discourage or prohibit your kind of dating, and if your boss were asked a direct question about this, he'd probably smile and say, "We believe in marriage."

But there is another kind of "Love in the Office" which is "The Skeleton in the Business Family Closet." This is the illicit love affair between two married employees or between one married and one single employee. This is the office relationship which most employers hate to admit even exists, a subject which has long been taboo despite the fact that it is one of business's most explosive.

What do company officials do when they are forced by office gossip or a call from a suspicious wife or husband to face the fact of a troublesome, potentially damaging affair? Some take the "ostrich attitude." One official summed up this attitude with this story. "One of our married junior accountants started going out with a typist. There was gossip about it. We ignored it and the whole affair soon blew over."

Whether these disclosures will have any effect on Love in the Office, I haven't the vaguest idea. But they certainly should pound home one warning: If ever you get involved and if you want to keep your job, keep your work up to par!

Office politics play a part in business, just know how to play the game!
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