I went to a xmas party over the weekend. I'm no social butterfly and meeting new people takes a lot out of me, mainly cause I have to try so hard to look interested and maintain banal conversation.
These outings are however a necessary part of living in society, and so I put my best effort in most times.
I find that the best way to maintain conversation is to actively ask the other person a whole heap of questions about themselves. People tend to love talking about themselves, and will think that you are an interesting person, even if you don't say a word but listen.
I met one chap whom at 34 years had worked only one job in his entire life. He proceeded to tell me that his place of work (a financial services firm) was the best place ever to work. I continued to ask him why, and I received a 10 minute soliloquy about about the company culture, how some people 'just don't fit', how he'd never leave, how he feels so great to be part of something as its being built, how he started at the bottom, and how he's so well looked after.
Firstly I was happy for the bloke, but then after a while it felt like I was talking to a religious nutjob, except his religion was company culture. Its so sad that at his age he hasn't yet realised that every job you work, no matter what company, in what country, or what position, that you are only there to make the company money and keep it alive.
Some may argue that I'm just cynical, but I used to be like him, until I had my spirit broken by not one but three different firms.
You may argue that he is happy, albeit naieve. When I thought about it, I concluded that no, actually it is me that is happier, as I am living in the reality that I know what the truth is, I have no loyalty to any company as no company has to me, and that I am only around as long as they keep paying me, and pay me well. I finish on time, take a fat paycheck, all because I let my employers know exactly how much effort I put in, and that I'd quite happily go elsewhere if the money or hours suited.
I wish I could have told the guy the same. Just quit, see what else is out there. Inevitably one day you are going to have a irreconcilable difference with a new boss, or the company will take some policy change as determined by the board, and the place will be different. Your loyalty over all those years will be forgotten in a heartbeat. All the things you like about the place will be gone, and you will be left there, working 12 hours a day as expected, for a wage that you compromised yourself on because you fell in love with where you work.
Don't be afraid of selling out to the highest bidder people. There's more to life than just work.
I haven't sold out to the man. I am the man.