Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Read My Lips

One of the most valuable skills in the workplace is one that is not taught at school, nor college or University. Those who master it will be the recipient of accolades and riches beyond their dreams. But despite its importance you will never see it listed in any job ad nor will it be mentioned in any job interview. I’m talking about the ancient art of what the Japanese call ‘dokushinjutsu’: mind reading.

With business happening faster than the speed of light and tasks, delegations and requests flying at us thick and fast via emails, text messages, meetings, video conferencing and as someone passes us in the hallway, mind reading has become an essential workplace skill to getting a handle on what is expected of us.

What do they want me to do? How do they want me to do it? When do they want it by? The answers to these questions (and maybe more) define the goal posts – you know those elusive white sticks that people complain are always moving about?

If you have experienced this and by the way you have, try this. Stare intently into the eyes of the person asking you and don’t blink for 56 seconds while repeating under your breath ‘I now enter the mind of the beast’. Alternatively write down on a clean piece of white paper the task as you understand it then stare at the words, meditating upon their meaning. If that doesn’t work you could try a physic but I’m pretty sure the Tax Office is not going to let you write that one off as a tax deduction. Of course if all of that fails you could try asking. “When do you need this by?”. “Did you want me to run this by you before I send it out?” and the like.

Sometimes people are hesitant to ask because they don’t want to seem like they don’t ‘get It ’. Compare this with the stress of having to sound convincing when you’re your manager innocently asks “how are you going with task X?”. “Oh, um, yep, all good”. Or making an ass of yourself by doing X when they wanted Y. Which do you think is going to make you look like the bigger idiot?

If that fails, don’t worry, thankfully the CIA are working on a solution. Like all good technological advances initially developed for military purposes their work will find it’s way into civilian life. Remember this when in 10 years time you are watching an infomercial on TV for the Demtel Mind Reader 2020. All for the amazing price of $29.95 plus postage and handling.

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