The Advanced Curriculum

Friends, Enemies and Frenemies

Are your enemies helping you? What are your friends plotting? These are questions you will ask yourself, at one point or another, throughout your short stay on this, our lonely planet.

The Seven Ways to Make and Maintain Friends in Business (The Short Course)

Be nice to people. They may be suspicious at first, but after a while they will come to view you as an ego-boosting safe harbor from the whips and scorns of all the nasty assholes. If you have to be reasonably insincere on occasion, go ahead. People appreciate insincerity. It’s proof that you care.

Don’t ever shame anybody in public, even when what they may be saying or doing is obnoxious and stupid. If ass must be kicked, do so in private, and always couch your negativity as a failure to understand, rather than a direct attack on them. “I don’t get what you’re saying, Larry. It seems counterintuitive to me” is better than “That’s just about the dumbest idea I ever heard, Larry.”

Listen to people. They have something to say even when they don’t really have anything to say. People do too much talking and not enough listening. Reverse that trend and you will be appreciated as probably more sensitive than you are, and also viewed, ironically, as a good conversationalist.

Always say hello to people in lobbies, elevators, on the line at the deli getting coffee, whatever, no matter how lowly or insignificant their position. Entire days have been ruined when an employee doesn’t receive his “Hi” from Ms. Entwhistle, who has no idea what damage she has just caused while she was thinking about her morning muffin. With peers, use their names. People hate being called “buddy,” “champ,” “my man,” and other all-purpose name replacements. This goes double for e-mail. “I can’t make that meeting, Barb” conveys an amazingly different message than “I can’t make that meeting.”

Display a dappy demeanor. It’s astonishing how many sour-looking weasels walk around surprised that people don’t seek their company. Manage your face.

Solve problems, don’t create them. A huge number of very dislikable people have this aggravating habit of either creating problems they can then solve to the acclaim of the multitudes, or blowing up the size of issues and then handing them off to others. Try to not do that.

Make people happy. It’s possible that you don’t know how to do this in “real” life, but it’s a lot easier in business. Figure out what your potential friends and allies might want and then do everything you can do help them get it. If you’re against what they want, work the other side as subtly as you can. No point in turning a friend into a frenemy.

For further information on the lessons contained here, refer to The Curriculum: Everything You Need To Know To Be A Master of Business Arts.


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