Category: Life Lessons

Perception is more important than results.

I am a failure when it comes to office politics. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I generally just act like myself. This is a problem when it comes to managing other peoples perceptions of you – and a bad perception can be incredibly damaging.

As a person, I am hard working, fast working (and talking!), I can pick up new things quickly, and I see a job through to the end. I’m honest and upfront – I’m not afraid to say exactly what I think. My memory is great. I’m enthusiastic, and love my job. All great assets in an employee, right?

On the flip side of that, I am so caught up in flying through my ‘to do list’ that I can lack attention to detail once I mentally check something off – meaning I can make some mistakes that I really should have caught before the QA team started giving serious consideration to lynching me in the car park.

I’m upfront to the point of being blunt. Without meaning to, I can really put someones back up by not stopping to think before I open my mouth.

My reaction to stressful times is to make fun of a situation, usually in a sarcastic manner.

My most recent encounter with office politics taught me a very harsh lesson. The work that I was kicking bottom with didn’t matter. The extra hours I’d put in did not matter. The perception people had of me was that I was not taking things seriously, and that was the feedback I was getting. The things I was doing well at weren’t even being considered by this point.

I railed against this in my head for quite a while. From my perspective, I was working harder than I ever had in my life. I was hurt that my actual results weren’t being examined fairly. I was putting in huge amounts of effort to take more care with what I was working on to produce fewer mistakes. It sucked. With a capital SUCK.

It still feels incredibly unjust in my head, and it feels really unfair. I will be taking on board the lesson, though – how your peers perceive you means more to your career than anything you achieve. It really is an attitude I’d love to see change, as perception often has little correlation with the reality of a situation.

The Fly

Friday night. It was a humid, muggy evening, and the windows were open.

Enter my new nemesis – the fly.

Over the course of the weekend, it tormented me. It flew around my head. It landed on any patch of bare skin. Like a lawn mower at 6am, its persistent drone proceeded to chip away at my sanity.

Everywhere I looked, the fly was there.

I attempted the pacifist approach, and left the windows wide open, hoping that it would peacefully vacate the premises. I used a notepad to try and gently waft it to a mutually beneficial egress. My flat is apparently prime estate though, and the fly remained.

My boyfriend farted in bed, and blamed the fly.

Neener neener! Flies make that noise. Really.
Neener neener! Flies make that noise. Really.

It was the final straw, and that is when I knew with crystal clear clarity.

The fly had to die.

Over the course of the next few days, I executed various plots to execute the invader.

It was too cunning to be caught up by the vacuum cleaner. Attempting to swat it midair just drew attention to my lack of gymnastic prowess. Sneaking up on it was an exercise in futility. Sadly, ninja I am not.

The fly anticipated my every move, and proceeded to mock me.

Late on Sunday night came the final battle. Armed with my trusty notepad and razor sharp wits, I waited. My boyfriend snickered, but I paid him no heed and prepared my ambush. A few hopeless flailings provided amusement. And then it happened. It landed on the ceiling. I swiftly positioned a chair to stand upon, and squashed it with an almighty – and satisfying – ‘thwack!’ as my notepad made contact. At last! Victory came with a brown smear on the ceiling.

I didn’t care about the clean up. Victory was mine, with a score of Fly: 200+, me: 1. It’s not about winning the battle. It’s about winning the war.

The lesson here? Buy some fly spray next time I go shopping.