Ninety nine per cent of success at work involves pretending: pretending to care, pretending to understand, pretending you are almost finished with that thing you have not even started. For women, it also involves pretending not to know how to do things you can do. Here are six things you should pretend you do not know how to do — unless you want to be doing them (instead of your real job) for the rest of your life.
1. Take notes
All meetings need a good note-taker. But guess what happens if you ever show anyone how good you are at this? You will be doing it for every single meeting at the company. One day you may even see “great note-taker” on your performance review. This skill will follow you to your next job, and the next, and the job after that, ultimately derailing your career. You must avoid this at all costs. To do so, simply be the first to ask: “Who can take notes?” before a single backside has hit a conference room chair. This will make it clear it will not be you.
2. Party planning
It will always be easier for management to ask you to plan a party than to ask a male co-worker to do it, because it is obviously beneath him. That is why you must never, ever let on that you enjoy planning, attending, discussing or thinking about parties. Hide your excitement when karaoke is mentioned, do not volunteer your cake-baking skills, and never show anyone how good you are at coming up with costume themes. If you do, sure, you may seem like a team player and you may still get promoted. But you will just be one of the few executives who is somehow still planning parties.
3. Interior decoration, fashion design
A high-powered attorney once showed an interest in what kind of toilet should go in the bathroom at her company’s new headquarters. A senior engineer once suggested the colour scheme for the company T-shirt. Do you know what that high-powered attorney and that senior engineer are now doing at work? Co-ordinating with contractors on office space design and creating spreadsheets about what size hoodies everyone wants.
4. Make coffee, take lunch orders, clean the fridge
Fight against any urge to nourish, feed or clean up after your co-workers, or yourself. But Sarah, you say, what if I love firing up the espresso machine? Or if the sink is a mess and I want to rinse a few dishes? Don’t. It is a trap. Recommended Emma Jacobs My week with bouncy, glossy, ‘professional’ hair The minute one of your co-workers walks into the kitchen and discovers that you know how to pour steamed milk into a cup, or catches you cleaning up a months’-old ketchup spill in the vegetable bin, they will assume it is part of your official duties. Instead, bring a full pot of coffee into the office and say your husband made it. Bring frozen meals for lunch, and unplug the fridge and tell everyone it is broken so a new one has to be installed. Otherwise, you will be forced to set up your desk in the kitchen to make it easier for you to cook and clean. And when you fall behind in your real job, you will be asked to scale back so you can focus more on maid duty.
5. Social media
Are you kicking ass on Instagram Stories? Of course you are. Do you understand the nuances of the perfect tweet? #HellYesYouDo. Can you write a LinkedIn post that gets both views and engagement? OK, no one can do that. Unless your job is social media marketing, never expose your expertise. Otherwise you will be creating decidedly non-dank memes suggested by the CEO at 3am, wake up late, miss an important client call, get kicked off the project, take your frustration out on your husband, get a divorce and wind up on a dating app, unable to comprehend what your life has become.
Avoiding these may mean suppressing every instinct you have ever had, but it is the sacrifice you must make in order to have a truly authentic career. Or really any career.
Source: FT.com / Pilita Clark, Writer of this Article, is the author of The Cooper Review and How to be Successful Without Hurting Men’s Feelings: Non-threatening Leadership Strategies for Women.