“How’s work going?”
“I’m completely swamped. I haven’t made it to the gym in weeks.”
“Me, too. I feel like I’m living in the office.”
Almost everyone’s had some version of this conversation. It’s often followed by a promise to catch up over drinks or lunch, which neither party follows up on.
Not only are these exchanges completely useless, they hurt relationships. As Meredith Fineman points out in a blog post at the Harvard Business Review, talking about how busy you are is really nothing but a humble brag.
The conceit is that if you’re constantly drowning in work, you must be doing something so important that everyone needs you — to the point that you can barely get away from the office.
No one wants to admit that they’re actually pretty on top of things and feel lazy or unimportant, so conversations devolve into one-upsmanships of how terribly busy you are.
“I was here until 9:30 last night.”
“I know how you feel; I worked all weekend!”
And when time in the office is emphasised as somehow being an end in itself, the focus becomes hours spent working instead of working intelligently.
“Just because you clocked 15 hours at your office, with likely dry eyeballs and a complete lack of focus, doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished things in a smart way,” Fineman writes.
You’d be better served figuring out how to make better use of your time and having real conversations with your peers instead of trying to prove how important you are.
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