(Read the other parts here.)
As we settled in the new place, life at work was beginning to change. We were no longer treated as 'freshers' and results were expected from us now. There were scores maintained and ratings given for every call we took. We were taught to treat the caller/client as the 'king', no matter what kind of language the 'king' used. It was okay to mutter back but even more important was to ensure you are not heard, even by yourself!
I continued to treat work the way I had treated other things in life so far. I worked towards improving my scores and performance while trying to enjoy work. I hadn't got around to liking it yet as it still seemed forced on me. However, there were targets to be met and I focused my energy on that instead of reminiscing over what could have been. There were other teams on the floor and competition was fierce. Scores were shared every other day along with the team's collective performance.
It was just another day in office when I was struggling to type the conversation I'd just had with a customer. Looking for alphabets on the keyboard then seemed like hunting for needles in a haystack (seriously!).
A guy from another team, someone who I saw chit chatting more than working, walked up to my workstation. After the customary 'hi', I resumed typing. He stood behind me, watching intently, enough to make me stop and turn around.
"Real slow typing, huh?"
"Yeah, still not used to it."
"You'll be an expert at it in a few days. Anyways, are you friends with that girl in our team?" He gestured towards the bay behind us.
"Yeah, known her since we joined together. Why, is there some problem?"
"I heard her talking about you and what I heard was not nice." His voice was barely audible.
"Ohh, what did she say?" My curiosity was at the peak and I could feel the tension growing inside me.
He went on to tell me the "negative talk" that had been going on about me, about my selfishness, my competitive nature etc. etc. As he spoke, anger welled up within me. Who were these people to pass judgement about me? Who are they to discuss what I am supposed to do or how I should be? Questions like these surged in my mind.
After a while he left, leaving me reeling in anger. Any amount of distraction didn't help as I continued to do my work normally. As soon as I could, I took a break, got myself a cup of coffee from the vending machine and stood by myself on the staircase, trying to calm myself. True, I had never been a world favourite, but was also not told of such things on my face before either.
A senior team member walked up to me then and inquired what was wrong. When I told her what this guy had said and that I had considered that 'girl' to be a friend, she asked me if I had spoken to her about it. I obviously hadn't.
She pointed out then, "You are believing this guy you barely know and based on what he's said you've made an opinion about this girl you've known and been with for a few months now. If you look at it objectively, this guy knows you two are friends and assumes that you two share office and work related matters too and being in the same different team as the girl, he doesn't want that their team's matters, if there are any like those, to be revealed to you. So, what he did is simple. He made you believe that your friend is talking ill about you and you did just that. This is called politics, dear, rather office politics.C'on now, let's go inside." She smiled.
She was right. I did just that. I believed in this stranger and was all set to vow against speaking to a friend. Whether the reason or gain that my senior said was valid or not, the logic seemed to make sense.
Over the next few days, I got to know more about this guy and thanked my stars that I never believed in him. And then, another fine day, he walked up to me while I stood waiting for my cab, "I see you are still friends with that girl. Remember, what all she said about you?"
I smiled back, "That's okay. You know what! There are so many people talking about you all the time too." I boarded my cab.
Thinking of the look on his face at that time makes me smile even today.
Office politics? Sorry, not with me!
Blogdosts, this is part of the series 'My Corporate Saga'. I will share my experiences, the challenges I faced, the achievements I accomplished, and the falls I suffered in my eight years of life as a working woman. It will highlight the problems a single girl faces in a new city and in a new job among strangers. It will also tell you how I managed to move along. The sweet and happy moments, the sour and frightening ones, all will be part of this series. Read the other parts here.