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Kissing Ass: The Art of office politics

books Updated: Apr 26, 2012 09:58 IST

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Innovative types may also carry out a ragging operation involving the use of office email, a fake project, a department HoD. This is the test of your confidence and thick-skinnedness. Play along and things will get better, especially if you start the bonding ritual.


Being a newcomer is never easy. Some of your colleagues will see you as a threat, some as a breath of fresh air, others as a devil in disguise, and some may go on to to become your best friends, or even lovers. Bonding with your colleagues should be one of your top priorities. The sooner they accept you, the easier it will be to work and get work done. However, just like in high school, office bonding too has different groups, one different from the other, the nerds and the rockers. To fit in, observe the ‘taking break’ pattern within your department and then begin the bonding process. Yes, it’s exactly like the bonding that happens with your iIkran in Avatar. Or like dogs sniffing each other’s bums.

These are the kinds of bondings you might come across.

1. Chai break bonding: Chai—that essential drink that brings people together. As poetic as it may sound, it’s also your key to the office social scene. Taking a chai break or brainstorming (yeah, right) over a cutting is written in the Indian cConstitution. All government offices adhere to it with conscientious dedication. So let’s divide a 9-hour work shift by order of priority.

Chai = 1 hour

Lunch = 1 hour

FB = 3 hour (intermittent)

Meetings = 2 hour

Work = 2 hour

Note: In case you are a smoker then deduct one more hour from your ‘meeting’ or ‘work’ time as you think appropriate. Go ahead; no one will miss you at your desk. ‘Just out for a smoke’ is an official phrase that can be used at least ten times a day.

Cutting chai calculation

1 cutting = 5 minutes

Ancillary time = 10 minutes (walking, ordering, etc.)

1 cutting session = 15 minutes

No. of sessions in a day = 4

Total time on chai: (15 minutes x 4) = 1 hour

So join colleagues on chai breaks and then at the next break time, ask someone out on a break. Do this with as many people as possible. Going on breaks will give you insights into what’s really happening inside the company—the real power centres, how to get work going, and other stuff that’s never discussed in a formal meeting.

2. Joke bonding: Everyone appreciates a sense of humour, but it’s key to know the ‘joke culture’ within the organization. Do they laugh at ‘Santa Banta’, ‘BB Fuck! Your First Day forwards’, or ‘topical satire’? Pay close attention to the ‘in jokes’ that only people within the company will get. Make an in joke to truly be considered ‘one of the team’.

3. Smoke bonding:

The easiest way to bond is over a smoke. I’m not saying you need to take to smoking but if you are a smoker you know your work’s cut out for you. Smokers find each other in any scenario, and also get along like a house on fire. There are essentially two types of smokers. The first kind is the one who ‘buys’ his smokes and the second is the one who ‘bums’ another smoker’s ciggies. A ‘bummer’ could be anyone in the hierarchy chain. The bummer is a constant cause of mild frustration among the ones who ‘buy’ their smokes.Mild frustration because it’s uncool to say no to a bummer, because c’mon, man, it’s just a smoke. So the bummer is here to stay and he’s going to want your expensive Davidoffs. This is a tricky situation that can be studied using a SWOT analysis.