Corporate Gossip Power

You give your best to be the best you can be, working beyond your job description, and always available when your help is needed. You are aware of your high level of intelligence and abilities, yet you continue to work on them, wanting to be even better. Every new piece of information and knowledge you acquire feels like a blessing because it will help you be more successful in your job. You focus on your work, confident that your results will soon be visible. Then one day, you snap out of the utopia you’ve comfortably nestled into in your mind, and you ask yourself: what is my true contribution to the company’s improvement? What purpose do countless reports, presentations, and analyses serve (does anyone read them)? How do people really advance in a corporation? What competencies and qualities must I have to move up even one level from this position?

Knowledge is commendable. Abilities are very important. But – all of that is not enough. Perhaps the most important thing is to be informed and know how to read between the lines. The information you possess and can use against someone if the opportunity arises is the “most precious knowledge” you have. Whether and to what extent you will be supplied with “important” knowledge depends, among other things, on the position you hold in the company. Personal assistants and drivers are the best-informed individuals in this regard; their advantage is their proximity to the “head,” allowing them to know things no one else in the company does. Because of this, they enjoy a special status. Any employee who, due to their position, circumstances, or even by sheer chance, becomes a “trusted person,” and who also has developed manipulation skills, can become very powerful and earn the title of a “shadow consultant.” Yes, that’s the right term, given that darkness is the favorite territory of such people, as is “fishing in muddy waters.” They do not respect professional rules; they bypass them because they are privileged with “convertible knowledge.” These methods of advancement spread like an infection, as employees easily see the causes and consequences – they understand what they need for success. They become hungry for information. Not about the job, of course. Those who lack other aces show the greatest interest.

A special phenomenon in the corporate world is the “smoker’s break.” Yes, it’s like a separate sector with its own authorities. This free time, a respite from work and a busy day is an ideal opportunity to transition from a professional to an informal relationship, for people to bond, relax, and talk about topics unrelated to work… However, talking about work is still crucial. “Word of mouth” in the corridors has become the most important side activity at work. Since I’m not a smoker, I was often deprived of many important pieces of information that directly or indirectly related to the job. I think this is discrimination against non-smokers, who cannot socialize professionally. The desire to be informed and up-to-date, for the sake of job success, led me to briefly join a group that enjoys nicotine. After two weeks of passive smoking and suffocating in the small room where these gatherings took place, I realized that I did not belong there. These were people who socialized outside of work hours; they came to work later, took long lunches, left work later, and often stayed late into the night. They had no friends outside of work, so their private and professional worlds merged into one. I had nothing in common with these people, so my attempt to “fit in” was doomed to fail from the start. And I am satisfied with that. Because when you have friends or relatives at work – it inevitably disrupts objectivity and professionalism, which further negatively affects the job and leads to errors in judgment and work. In practice, there are different theories and corporate cultures about the permissible closeness of colleagues and business partners. Some companies do not allow, for example, spouses to work together; some have a strictly formal organization, while others promote games and a relaxed atmosphere during work hours. This can, of course, be discussed, and everyone can have their own opinion and arguments for and against it. I believe that if there is more “intimacy” at work than usual business communication dictates – it hinders and slows down the work. However, given the material resources that large corporations have, such mistakes are tolerated, so you will always give an opportunity and recognition to someone close to you (a friend, or relative…), rather than someone who deserves it more.

Business and non-business gatherings are ideal opportunities for promotion because if you are articulate and resourceful, you can use them for self-promotion, so your superiors easily form a positive impression of you and your abilities. The essence is secondary because everything has become superficial. Words and presentation are what count. The saying “Actions speak louder than words” has transformed in today’s time into the reverse version: “Words are more important than actions.” All of this reminds me of Scheherazade’s tales from One Thousand and One Nights, except the motivation is not to preserve life but to destroy others’ lives. To elevate oneself and seemingly make oneself better, a careerist often speaks negatively and belittles others, both through inappropriate jokes and exaggeration. The motivation of a person who “lobbies” against you is mostly based on animosity. They see you as an obstacle. Thus, negative selection is implemented in practice through words. Bad vibes and energy vampires are one of the main underminers of corporations.

So, if you don’t strive to know everything about everyone – you are not doing your job well, meaning you are not investing enough in it. This investment implies merging the private and professional into one, although it is a well-known fact that this is a big mistake. Because – it is about two completely different spheres that should be kept strictly separate. However, with the development of digitalization, this boundary spontaneously disappears, and everything can be as transparent as you want (but also more than that!). From the comfort of your chair, you can open your world to others and observe theirs. As fun as it may be at the beginning, over time, this “freedom” starts to become bothersome. In the virtual world, almost everyone shows only the best and most beautiful parts of themselves, so it is debatable how much of the information you believe you have obtained in this way is actually true. It is necessary to keep your privacy to yourself and your closest ones. What you do privately should remain unnecessary knowledge for others; otherwise, the word private loses its meaning. Excessive sharing of intimacy with the unknown world is not only tasteless and uncultured but also undesirable and risky because your success and progress can be an incentive for gossip, envy, and negative reactions. Modern man, unfortunately, forgets that mental hygiene is more important than all others.

Information is indeed power, but you need to know how to use it. Never and for no reason lower yourself to the level of scheming. There is no ladder in the hierarchy of advancement that can truly compensate for the loss of honor.