Weddings And Workwear
WEDDINGS AND WORKWEAR – Why The Workplace Is Like A Wedding And How A Suit Can Be Your Best Friend
I Love The Smell Of Mothballs In the Morning
You hire a morning suit is what you do. That’s the right course of sartorial action when a gentleman is required to attend a wedding. Sadly though, modern thinking is veering away from this tradition. Modern thinking is wrong. All over the country, men are buying suits and wearing them to nuptial celebrations. The reason for this evades me entirely. It can’t possibly be to save money.
Suit You Sir!
A suit which has been worn at a wedding is a dead suit. It will forever after be the suit that you wore at such-and-such’s wedding. At best it could serve for any job interviews or court attendances resulting from unfortunate changes in personal circumstance. But be sure to make it your second choice as it will forever have the stink of matrimony about it. This smell has been known to adversely affect the opinions of interviewers and judges alike. And all this is in the unlikely event that said suit survives the bride’s big day in the first place.
Wherefore Stopst Thou Me?
A wedding is a noisy, visceral affair. Old rivalries and gripes bubble away under the surface and, as the long drunken day plays its course, new rivalries and gripes are created and stored for future reference. There will be tears, there will be swearing and there will be fights. At the very least there will be carelessly flung food and drink.
Any gentleman with an ounce of sense about him wouldn’t bring even his least favourite shirt anywhere near the whole ghastly affair. A more sensible man would burn his boxers, socks and shoes afterwards. A truly sensible one would simply refuse to ever attend what is essentially a gigantic overblown Public Display of Affection.
For God’s Sake Get A Room
I mean we all retch when we see some couple all over each other in a bar. So why are we expected to express approval when a couple book a church and buy a cake to do what amounts to the same thing for an entire bloody day? At least the couple in the bar are just making us feel queasy. They don’t expect us to give them presents while they are doing it. It’s no wonder we pack them off on honeymoon for two weeks. As far away as is affordable.
But if a man must be dragged along to such events, then the hired morning suit is definitely the way to go. Your goolies filling the space inhabited by a hundred other pairs before them. The ghosts of those long departed bollocks providing solidarity against the horror that is vows and cake and the tradition of the best man getting to have first crack at the chief bridesmaid, no matter how nonsensical that pairing might appear to be. In short, weddings are messy and dangerous and if you wear your own clothes to one, they are very likely to be ruined.
Talking Of Tenuous Segueways..
I am going to pose you a question. It may seem unrelated, but there is a logical connection, albeit a tenuous one. Are you really good at your job, but can’t understand why you never get promoted? Do you come up with the goods time and time again but always get passed over when it comes to promotions and pay rises? If so, then I’m going to make a little bet with you. For purposes of clarity, it will be referred to from now on as Our Little Flutter.
And the bet is as follows. I am willing to wager that you are nowhere near as good at your job as you as you think you are. The harsh fact is that it’s pretty much an odds on cert that you are, at best, very slightly above average. Even if that were not the case –and it is the case- your ability is not actually relevant.
Your Attitude Determines Your Latitude
The reason you have formed the opinion that you are unappreciated has nothing to do with skill or competence. You could be the best there is at what you do. Number one in the world, bar none. Doesn’t matter. No praise will come your way. The contract for that juicy new managerial role will not be winging its way through your letterbox by return of post. The reasons for this can be encapsulated in one word. Attitude.
There are alternative explanations of course. If you are a woman, you could be bumping your head on the glass ceiling. But probably not. If you class yourself as belonging to an ethnic minority, then racism could be rearing its ugly head. But probably not. If you have already scaled a few rungs on the corporate ladder then you could, as long as you are deluded enough about your own effectiveness, be suffering the effects of the Peter Principle.
Peter Peter Promotion Eater
The Peter Principle states that a person will get promoted because they work hard and are good at their job. Obvious enough. Though I’ve never quite understood that. Surely the best managers would be the lazy workers who get everyone around them to do their work for them? Still that’s the way the world works. The Peter Principle goes on to state that the new position is not just the old one scaled up a bit. It is different and requires different skills.
Given enough promotions, the demands involved shift so much that the employee in question no longer has the skill set to do the latest job. They have reached what is called their “Level of Incompetence.” Upon which they just inconvenience everyone until they move on to another company or retire. If everyone above you at your company has held their position for a long time, it could go some way towards explaining your early morning groan of horror when the alarm clock goes off. Or even everyone below you for that matter.
You Don’t Have To Be A Fuckwit To Work Here, But It Helps
Of course for some workers, the effects of the Peter Principle do not have to involve any promotions at all. It is more than possible to reach your Level of Incompetence as soon as you start. In which case, the wonderful worlds of social security scrounging or teaching await you. Unemployment is after all the only job guaranteed for life should you choose it as a career option. But let’s get back to Our Little Flutter, and assume that the glass ceiling, racism and the Peter Principle are not factors. Which just leaves the aforementioned attitude.
To up the ante in the wager, I am further willing to venture that every time your boss’s shadow crosses you, your bitterness and negativity stink out the place like a month dead skunk. You have little or no empathy towards the people in charge of you. Just a great big stockpile of moaning, bitching and whining about the stress and hassle they inflict upon you.
Being Yourself Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be
There is a truism about job interviews that you should always be yourself. A temporarily shinier and more highly polished version of yourself of course, but still actually you. And this is excellent advice, but it should come with the following addendum : after the job is secured, the last thing you should behave like at work is yourself.
Everyone is play acting at work. The man who grills you about this budget or that deadline is not the same man who goes home in the evening and plays with his kids. He’s not the same man who goes down to the pub and has a few jars with his mates. He does not, in the bigger picture, give a toss about the annual performance review.
It is the power of the salary that makes him behave as if he does. You are making the mistake of being yourself at work. But the place where you earn your daily bread is like a great big theatre and you are not sticking to the script. You are ad libbing so everyone is getting confused and angry because their lines no longer fit.
Michelangelo Was Naked When He Painted The Sistine Chapel
The reason I was so confident in saying that you are, at best, slightly above average at you job is not because I know the first thing about your ability. Hell, I don’t even know what you do for a living. Regarding the practical side, you could be the Michelangelo of whatever it is you do. What I do know, however, is that the practical side of any job is only ever about two thirds of that job.
Annoyingly for everyone, the other third is dealing with your superiors, and that is quite a large chunk, whether you like it or not. It is also the chunk that you suck at. Think of it as managing your managers if it softens the blow at all. And bear this in mind: the higher up the corporate food chain you go, the stupider and more nonsensical the things you are asked to implement become. This is why everyone wears a uniform or a suit. It helps with the play acting.
But it only helps. You need another kind of suit, a metaphorical kind of suit. An alternate personality that you wear like a morning suit at the wedding I mentioned earlier. One that dozens of people have tested and worn in before you. It doesn’t matter if this personality gets damaged as long as you are wearing it over the top of your real one and not the other way around.
The Big Boss
Imagine the following scenario. Your Section Leader (or whatever modern euphemism for Charge Hand he has been allocated) has been called into the Big Boss’s office. The Big Boss kicks off the conversation:
“The shit’s hit the fan Dave. Listen carefully to what I am about to say.”
“I’m all ears boss.”
“Our competitors have undercut us and the cost of our raw materials has sky rocketed. We need to trim things down to the bone marrow, not just the bone. We need results, fast!”
“Righto chief, I’m all over it as of this moment!”
“Good. And Dave.”
“These results. They had better be very slightly above average.”
A Play In Which Nothing Happens. Twice.
This conversation would never happen. If you are wearing your actual personality at the big messy violent wedding reception that is work, then understand this. However competent you may be, you are seen at best as average and at worst as a liability. Even by those of your peers who agree with every gripe and moan you voice.
They agree, but they don’t want you to say it to the boss’s face. That just makes you, and by default them, a target. And despite what your personnel manager might insist, there is no team where you work. What there is where you work is a tribe. Or rather a loose association of intermittently warring tribes. With you as tribal outcast to all of them. If you want to actually get ahead at work, you need to change this situation. This is very easily done, though the process can be a little lengthy.
Wine, Women And Amateur Dramatics
Just don’t be yourself. Disengage that thinky thing inside your skull for a bit and stop trying to make sense of what happens at work. None if it can possibly make any sense because it’s all made up. It’s all just a very bad play that everyone’s writing as they go along. So smile and nod and join in all the banal conversations. Say yes to everything which is asked of you, no matter how insane. Be optimistic to the point of foolhardiness. Be pathologically positive and cooperative.
The change will take a while, because people will be suspicious of a trick at first. But fortunately, people have very short attention spans and the whole thing will soon be forgotten then become the norm, like a new haircut. Promotion will follow not far behind. But before you try any of this, it is important to ask yourself one question. Do you really want to play a more prominent role in what is essentially an embarrassingly poorly scripted piece of community theatre?
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2013