RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.
*Written in 2014.
I thought I’d start a new series of articles called Business Assholes.
Well, I deal with plenty on a regular basis and felt that there is too much to discuss in just one nice-sized write-up. There are various topics I want to talk about, so I’ll write them as I feel the need.
Today, I’m writing about chronic interrupters, which seems to be a problem I’ve been dealing with a lot in the company I work for. Now this isn’t just related to business, it is related to life. Pretty much everyone I deal with that harbors this bullshit behavior in business, also harbors it in their daily lives.
To start, have you ever been talking to a business colleague about an important project, going through the fine details, and then some asshole cuts in to bitch and complain about their vacation time or how rude their superior is or whatever – completely fucking up your important conversation? Or have you ever been in a meeting and everyone in the room continues to shout over one another, competing for air time, not paying attention to what anyone else is actually saying and only waiting for their moment to butt in? Or have you been furiously cranking away on a project that requires your full attention and someone constantly has to hover over your monitor to talk to you about things like hair dye, True Blood or their boyfriend’s inability to fry chicken? Maybe you’ve experienced the shared office situation, where a small group of boisterous buffoons constantly makes a racket because they are oblivious to the fact that they aren’t the center of the universe? This shit happens to me multiple times per day and I’m sure it happens to others just as frequently.
The point is, all this is bad for business. The chronic interrupter butting in to bitch about things out of their control and not giving a shit that you and a colleague are working on something vital for the company, is a knife stabbed into the back of productivity. The distraction takes your mind away from the details and sabotages your ability to be thorough. If this happens regularly, mistakes will happen. Additionally, the constant stream of negative bitching just ruins everyone else’s day and stifles morale. While I feel that all of this is common sense, apparently 95 percent of my office mates haven’t yet come to this pretty easy conclusion in their long and storied careers. Plus, to the chronic interrupter who thrives on bitching, you’re a fucking downer and no one likes a fucking downer. We already know that you hate everyone and everything, we don’t need an hourly reminder.
Moving on to meetings full of chronic interrupters, this sort of situation is the harbinger of doom for many companies. Speaking from my personal experience, I find myself in daily meetings where everyone is shouting, arguing and competing for the spotlight. No one pays attention and even if one tried, there is so much shit being thrown up on the wall by multiple people with conflicting ideas, that one’s brain might explode trying to decipher the supernova-like clusterfuck. I’ve tried to take notes, there is no point. You’d have just as much solid information to walk away with by drawing doodles of fez-wearing stegosauruses eating pineapple upside-down cake. In many of my situations, nothing gets accomplished in these meetings except more confusion, more uncertainty and the need to have follow up meetings because no one is really ever on the same page. And with each meeting comes more frustration and disorientation. It’s like riding on a turbulent airplane and having to set down in every town, never reaching your actual destination because you’re burning through all of your fuel.
Meetings like the ones described above, lead to people playing the blame game and pointing fingers. Nothing is accomplished, at least not to its full capacity and usually the boss man is pissed off and ready to put the whole company on the chopping block. Moving forward, these chronic interrupters don’t learn from their disorganized egomaniacal chaos and continue down the same path, always befuddled as to why nothing ever gets done exactingly and speedily. They even resent the idea that they might be part of the problem because if everyone would’ve just listened to them in the first place, their wouldn’t have been any issues or snags to begin with. Now imagine a half dozen people passionately thinking and believing that same thing.
Then there are the people who constantly bother you throughout the day. They rarely do any work and find themselves wandering around the office looking for conversation. There is an innate neediness that these people cling to and unfortunately for those of us just trying to do our job and get through the day, we are often times forced to be the audience of their irritating circus. Apparently wearing a mask that explicitly says “fuck off” isn’t enough of a defense against these self-absorbed time wasters and productivity killers. Flatly stating “I’m really busy” doesn’t seem to thwart them either. They will continue to hover until there is that split second opening where they can spill out their soul on a variety of topics that have nothing to do with anything. Well, maybe they do but I don’t pay attention, as I intently stare at my monitor until the twenty minutes of weasel chatter has concluded for that hour.
This brings me to the example of obnoxious coteries and posses in a shared office space. They tend to exist in their little group and anything outside of it doesn’t matter to them. They think they’re the life of the party, the official workplace fun crew and want to push their party hard philosophy on everyone else within earshot. I like having fun, I like being able to pay my bills more. I’m not saying to not have fun at the work place but a 24/7 frat party when there is a lot to do is disruptive as hell to those who are trying to keep things running smoothly, while picking up the slack of the party clique. Like the other types of chronic interrupters discussed above, this shit kills productivity and somewhere someone has to keep the ball moving forward. Unfortunately, the person picking up the slack is the one being interrupted by the slack.
All these behaviors mentioned are the qualities of rude self-absorbed people. I’m not saying that they are bad people but they have bad behaviors. Maybe I’m a hypocritical asshole for pointing this stuff out because I have some bad behaviors myself. However, I rarely, if ever, do anything to disrupt the workflow of other people. Sure, we all need to bitch about something, or passionately state our ideas in a room full of people but there is a time and a place for it. In an organized, respectful environment, everyone gets their turn and everyone should have their turn. In return, people should shut the fuck up and listen: respectfully.
Moving beyond the workplace, most of these people that behave this way while on the clock, do the same thing when they’re out in the world. In my personal life, I have no tolerance for it. Then again, in my personal life, I can tell people to “fuck off” and I don’t have to frolic around in public with them. I can’t choose my work mates but I can choose my friends. When happy hour rolls around after work, I can ditch the simple minded idiots and slam whiskey with my respectable and righteous brethren.
Do I have advice for the chronic interrupters on how to improve themselves? Yes, don’t do all the shit I just talked about. The problem is, most of these people are oblivious in regards to their condition. We live in a “now!” and a “me! me! me!” society. A lot of shit’s broken. None of it will probably be fixed. I’m not trying to be a pessimistic bitch but this is the way it is, especially when in most cases, leadership is to blame.
As for me, I’ll continue to go about my day in a respectable manner, dealing with this epidemic that probably won’t go away.