She’s fabulous…I can’t stand her.
Something you learn early on in life is that everything is a competition. Whether you like it or not, we’re all built to run on our basic instincts: survival of the fittest. Since you pulled Emily Jones’ pigtail at school because she built a better sandcastle than you, not much has changed. When you’re sitting in a bar, rolling your eyes at the tall, hot blonde who has the command of every man in the building, the basic fact isn’t that you hate her: it’s that you wish you were her.
Then there’s the girl at work, you know the one I mean; she does your boss’ Starbucks run every morning, she’s always early to board meetings and always has six pages of suggestions waiting patiently in her FiloFax. Although you might laugh about her colour co-ordinated wall planner, I’ll bet that her eager attitude is getting her places… And deep down, you know that she’s doing all the things that you should be doing.
Former US Cosmo editor Kate White has been speaking out on the subject. In a recent interview for Boston.com, she explained how her staff would complain about employees who sucked-up, but Kate would tell them she “liked being sucked-up to.”
Further still, Kate stresses how important it is that you “don’t worry about whether people will like you.” Although of course, it’s helpful to have a good relationship with your colleagues, it’s possible to be successful without being disliked. “You don’t have to be obnoxious, but you can’t be afraid to speak up, showcase your accomplishments, and take on projects others might want” says Kate. And who better to give advice than the former editor of one of the world’s biggest women’s magazines: an unequivocal minefield of bitchiness and office politics.
For a successful and fulfilling career, a little healthy competition is vital. It’s easy to settle into a position you’re good at, but by having good organisational skills and faith in yourself, a promotion could be just a few skinny Lattes and coloured Post-It notes away. In her new book, Kate advises young women that “To get ahead, you have to do more than what you’re asked/told to do, even if you’re doing that brilliantly.”
Of course, despite the best intentions, it is you and only you who can take control and be the best you can be; “I suggest making time every week — even just an hour (but you have to do it!) — to network, develop new skills, reflect on where you want to go next, and how you will get there” says Kate.
So, next time you feel a surge of hatred when your boss offers the office kiss-ass the project you so desperately wanted, think again. Kate’s advice? “Don’t hate on her. Turn the envy — and thus the focus — back on yourself and see if you need to borrow a couple of pages from her playbook.”