by Lizzy NJ
As I was beginning my working life; I would hear it said "working is a big game." I really didn't know what was meant by that. Some referred to it as a dog eat dog world, or 'the rat race' / I guess I was fortunate at age 22; I worked as a paste up person of some weekly town papers; wages were a bit above minimum… and for me, at that time; to gain experience "I was content." It was a VERY friendly work environment. The year was 1980.
Anyway, I have concurred, some 29 years later… there is a GAME being played and if a worker wants to survive they had better understand. Here's how I see it (feel free to disagree).
THE CAT AND MOUSE game… by definition, Cat and Mouse game means: Playfully or teasingly cruel, as in prolonging the pain or torment of another.
It can be played by any: co worker to new co worker, two co-workers of equal tenure but differing in age perhaps or differing in gender, or ethnicity, or supervisor to 'a target' employee, subordinate, or two administrators to one subordinate worker.
Some of the ways the 'game' is played:
1. Hold back giving pertinent information in directions to a person. In general, all humans want to be seen as decent but they also have an 'insecure streak' of some kind within. If a subordinate takes in upon themselves to 'just do' as they see best; they fell into the trap set. The one giving directions (only basics) can wag a finger and say DID I SAY DO IT THAT WAY? (No; but neither did they say don't do) The trick here is that all we humans like to be resourceful and think for ourselves; AND the CATS KNOW IT. DO NOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS as a worker MOUSE. They must be kept informed and you worker MUST always 'ask first' before doing even the most menial task. Do you want the letter to be mailed today? (even if you know it should) Do you want me to file this large pile of folders away? Even if you have done it thousands of times before… NEVER just assume 'today' is same as yesterday, I wish to go to lunch (at usual time) but NEVER just go; let them 'in charge' know you are going… by asking "is there anything you need before I go to lunch now?" WORKERS can never 'just do' (in the old days; yes… but not today. Those running the show use 'vagueness of directions' or vague expectations to trap the honest and eager and good worker.
2. Another aspect of CAT AND MOUSE (Cat is aggressive and Mouse is timid) is the asking subordinate mouse a seemingly innocent question pertaining to religion, hobby, outside activities or political views. They ask in casual light conversation; but EVERY ANSWER is remembered and carried to 'the powers that be' who interpret it as they perceive. NEVER discuss family issues, or gripe of problems in that area, never talk political views (never) never talk of outside interests (affiliations with even the boy scouts or girl scouts or fixing up a home or buying a home or an advocational interest (yes; it gives management 'fodder' when an error is made that YOU don't have 'a full interest' in THE JOB). Avoid lunchroom chatter where the light and casual chatter can make you 'reveal what you know can be used as a negative' (humanity is broken and insecure and anything is fair game to get another OUT of their territory of money making). A listener is always called a great conversationalist. LISTEN but say little. AND AVOID the lunch table if even one gripe comes / quietly excuse self for any reason and disappear and then take a different lunch hour. DO NOT CONGREGATE to 'gripers' because you will be pulled down to doing it also. (and for some reason; 'they can gripe' YOU worker cannot.)
3. Dress professionally, walk professionally (never slouch) do not succumb to eating or drinking at desk (a candy bar or tea or coffee or soft drink). Even if others do. Do not follow 'the crowd' (it sets you apart from the rest). If everyone takes a break; take a restroom break / Eat when it is lunch time (preferably out to eat) Arrive on time, LEAVE when work day is over unless asked to stay by management. Give no one reason to complain of your habits. Keep little personal info on desk; including philosophical statements that inspire or family photos. In other words, as much as possible 'squelch' your human-ness. Humanity is cruel… don't allow them to find 'fodder' for their fun. (they will no matter what but don't give it to them) MAKE EVERYDAY 'a first day' and retain a certain amount of caution in all actions and certain nervousness… (but relaxed).
Don't be a part of CAT AND MOUSE… be 'business like at all times' and STRICTLY BUSINESS (it is what upper management teaches managers and supervisors). Squelch all emotions (it is seen as weak in management circle; and management does know just workers have emotions and management uses it 'for their own ends'… come with passion for 'the job' and be 100 PERCENT 'on the mark' for being a WORKER.
Do not assume or act 'of your own mind' ASK always, do not answer anything of any personal type question (views and opinions, hobbies, family, political, do not reveal who you are but remain 'mystery'… their perceptions are their own; as the saying goes don't let them tack any label on you by your own words to them, dress in appropriate manner as the rest of office dresses. Business casual or business formal. Fit in. And even if you know how to do the job; don't get 'lazy' or 'off your guard' / always treat every day as if it were YOUR FIRST DAY… and no one will make it your LAST DAY.
And stay aware of what is going about around you. If your gut senses hostility in any manner or they stop giving you the usual amount of work or they overload your desk with work or they management team ostracizes and keeps out of the loop. NEVER, NEVER speak feelings about any of it. Rather; at home formulate your move… send resumes out from home on weekend, seek a part time job so you can be working a simple job weekends or late nights and when secure in the simple job (or spouse is secure in their job)… GIVE NOTICE because 'if support isn't there or respect'… don't waste time LEAVE. If you can't get another comparable job; get a part time job or let spouse work and you stay home 'til you find a job… but DO NOT let 'them' GET YOU with the emotional game playing. OR STAY AND HAVE A COMPLETE 'DETACHMENT'… from the people… just doing what hired for. Take all words with a grain of salt.
Today's work people are wounded, insecure, uptight, and yes… without any understanding of God and good. STAY DETACHED… or someone will betray and hand you over. (Sad but true…that is 'THE GAME.')
Comments for Cat And Mouse Game I
Click here to add your own comments
Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Workplace Bullying Stories.