CAREER DEVELOPMENT / NOV. 25, 2014
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How to Outmaneuver Your Colleagues (according to the animal kingdom)

The workplace can be a jungle. Lions, tigers and bears (oh my! Sorry couldn’t help myself), most workplaces are composed of both predators and prey. Are you a gazelle or a cheetah? If you are a gazelle, first off you’re super cute and secondly, you need to be able to outmaneuver your predatory co-workers.

Timing is everything

Crocodiles have a hunting technique where they lay low, look like a floating log until prey approaches the water. As if crocodiles aren’t terrifying enough modern-day dinosaurs, they jump out at their unassuming prey pulling them under water. Timing is crucial: too soon or too late and the prey gets spooked or is too far to become a croco-treat. Make sure it’s good timing to take on extra responsibility. If your supervisor seems overwhelmed, offer to help out. If you do this when they aren’t overwhelmed, it’s going to seem like you don’t have enough of your own work.

Be honest

The fact that animal’s don’t lie is empirical scientific knowledge. OK, for a second let’s just ignore the fact that the ability to speak is kind of necessary for lying. Integrity is a sought after and often rare commodity in a work environment, so, if you are forth-coming, honest and even own up to your mistakes, you could be prancing along your merry little way.

Use tools

Chimpanzees have been observed in the wild using tools to source their food, which is quite unique within the animal kingdom. You too need to take initiative and try to innovate within your work environment. Monkeys also throw their poo. That, I would definitely avoid in the workplace.

The weak and sickly die!

Before you freak out let me make my point. Most humans are evolved enough to know that every member of society has something to offer. What I’m getting at is take the lead. Usually when animals herd, the oldest, youngest, weakest and generally slowest animals hang out at the back. When predators hunt they usually target the back of the herd knowing this. If you hang out at the back of the herd you seem like less of an asset and thus you will get a part of your behind bitten off. Wait, I mean you’ll get fired, if your supervisor bites off a piece of your butt call the police immediately.

Be proactive not reactive

Herd animals usually take as many measures as possible to avoid predators. They stand downwind, they keep watch and they warn each other if a predator is approaching. In this context it’s better not to make enemies but allies. Keep your hand on the pulse of your work environment and speak to anyone that may be problematic. If they lunge at you, smack them on the snout, I hear predators hate that.

Adaptability

The animal kingdom is full of examples of defensive adaptations. A famous unattributed (most say Darwin, but that’s arguable) quote says: “It is not the strongest, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Be flexible, approach things creatively and be open to accept tasks outside your responsibilities. Most people loath change but they usually go the way of the dodo (as in extinct).   

Have you ever sat in high grass with the constant fear of being eaten? Well then let us know in the comment section below. Just make sure you’re light footed to avoid attracting the land sharks (legal department).

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