CONVERSATIONS with colleagues can be fun, or you may start to suspect you’re being quietly interrogated for nefarious purposes. Here are six questions that should set off alarm bells.
‘Any plans for the weekend?’
They might be genuinely interested in what you’re up to. But they may be thinking of hassling you to come in on Saturday. Always claim to be busy, but keep it plausible, ie. not spending the 15th consecutive weekend on a remote island with no electricity.
‘How do you think you’re getting on here?’
Any answer to this could go disastrously. Too positive and they’ll think you’re blind to your faults, too negative and you’ve just admitted those faults like a simpleton. Stick to vague business-speak, eg. ‘I’m really getting across things in the team framework.’ It’s an office, so this sort of bullshit is fine.
‘Do you have any feedback for me?’
Do not succumb to temptation. No matter how many times they say they don’t mind, they absolutely do mind any criticism whatsoever. Even the most reasonable thing like wanting a bit more notice of meetings will mark you down as a psycho with a personal vendetta who’ll push them out of a 10th floor window if no one’s looking.
‘What do you do for fun?’
Sounds like harmless chit-chat. But the person asking you will be a joyless robot who lives for work and silently despises your debauched lifestyle of going to the cinema or a restaurant. Or they might be the office Billy No-mates who’s angling to do it with you.
‘How much progress have you made on this?’
None. That’s the honest answer. But don’t assume honesty is valued or your boss finds it useful to have a true picture because they can plan ahead. Also do not tell people you finished something early, because that’s like wearing a sign saying ‘Give me extra chores please because I am a f**king mug’.
‘What’s your favourite karaoke song?’
Clearly you’re being lined up for a shit karaoke night or Patricia’s hen party. Unfortunately you have never heard of music before and cannot name a single song. Also did you mention you’re living on a remote Scottish island that weekend?