June 8, 2005

The worst part of the training I wrote about yesterday was that, even though nobody wanted to be there, some of the other people in attendance took the attitude that they ought to make lemonade out of the lemons they had been handed.

This was fine on principle, except it meant that they shared.

“Who can tell me what they think an optimal experience is?”, asked the leader of the session.

Silence for a brief while. Then, from somewhere in the room: “The BEST!”

“Good, good,” said the leader. “Anybody else?”

Silence for a briefer while. “An experience unencumbered with frivolous baggage!”

The trainer was taken aback for a moment, but then recovered himself. “Excellent! That’s definitely a very specific definition. An optimal experience is . . .” and kept on talking.

It got worse; people started raising their hands unprompted and contributing anecdotes from their own personal experience. “The other day, I had an awakening,” they would begin, and then they would describe the tedious awakening.

And I was like, excuse me, don’t you realize that the more we talk, the later we’re going to go home?

But by the afternoon, I was so beaten down and demoralized by the whole experience that I actually started to buy into the rhetoric. I saw what the trainer was doing and yet, despite all my efforts to resist, I felt motivated. “Gee,” I thought to myself, “that does sound good. If I do a really great job [which my mind refused to translate consciously to ‘if I sell more of our product’], the clients can feel understood and be happier and I can be happier too.” I was revolted to find myself thinking such thoughts, but I was powerless to stop myself.

Thank God I was locked out at the beginning of day two. Maybe I should quit the gig while I’m ahead and count myself lucky to have escaped relatively unscathed.

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13 Responses to The worst part of the

  1. matt says:

    Quit the gig, definitely. But firebomb the motherfuckers first. You owe it to the gene pool.

  2. Monica says:

    I think the worst part of my job is the fact that I now sometimes find “Dilbert” funny.

    This reminds me of the time I knew I’d been in retail too long when I heard myself say, “Yes, polyester has come such a long way” and was completely sincere.

  3. Patrick says:

    quit quit quit quit quit

    unless you get to write a musical about it…

    too much talent too little time

  4. AP says:

    I know the training of which you speak. I attended those very sessions for the very company for which you freelance.

    The role-playing in day two is especially agonizing. I suggest blowing your own brains out just before the activity begins.

  5. chris says:

    Every time they say ‘experience’ replace it in your head with ‘ballsac’.

  6. anapestic says:

    You didn’t actually drink any of the Kool-Aid lemonade, did you? Have you found yourself asking E.S. whether he and you could be interfacing more synergistically? Have the words “paradigm shift” passed your lips in the last twenty-four hours? It’s all downhill from here, I fear.

  7. Jeffrey says:

    You know what I’m going to say, so I’ll just give you the abridged version: Destroy. Flay alive. Flick.

  8. Jill Smith says:

    Oh, if only I had ever attended a soul-deadening seminar of this sort with a bunch of other people who realized that active participation just delays the going home process.

    The worst thing about these seminars (aside from having to live through them) is the way some of the jargon gets embedded into your brain. I actually heard myself say, “Cues and clues” the other day and nearly vomited.

  9. MzOuiser says:

    Is any job worth that? Yeeeesh.

  10. Mushlette says:

    For the love of God, RUN AWAY.

  11. Gary says:

    In case your head hasn’t exploded already: http://www.openspaceworld.org . A topic usually in the form of a question, a room, participants, chairs, tablets and white boards, a “facilitator” whose facility apparently stops at renting the room and providing the supplies, and the jaw-dropping premise that “The answer is in the room.” No agenda, no schedule, no handouts, everyone just… does it all themselves until someone wises up or quittin’ time hits. And I think they’re making money.

  12. Christopher says:

    I used to do the PR for a well known cosmetics company, which I won’t name (Procter & Gamble). I cannot tell you the amount of soul destroying monthly all-agency meetings I had to attend where buzzwords like “critical mass”, “buttoned up”, and “USP” were thrown around like they were going out of fashion.

    The best bits were always when someone mentioned a “BOGOF” (buy one, get one free) and I would almost wet myself with the ordeal of suppressing my mirth. A bit like when someone says “Blue tit”! Tee-hee! Oh, I’m off again!

  13. birdfarm says:

    I’m one of those people who can’t stop talking in those kinds of things. I’m very succeptible to the subtle message that if I just talk, it will be marginally less excruciating. Yet it’s more excruciating. Yet I can’t stop.

    The point is: if it’s any comfort, it hurts the talkers more than it hurts you. No, really. They go home and want to stab themselves in the head because they actually *said* all that crap–in front of other people! At least *you* can forget all about it. They will have to live with the memory of their actions.


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