If there is one thing I’ve learned (and mastered) during my last few years of professional experience it’s that being a master bullshitter can take you a long way in the workplace. Don’t get me wrong, being a great bullshitter doesn’t mean you have to be a liar or lack integrity, it just means sometimes you have to know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. Even if that means making a round piece fit in a square space.
For example, today a senior on my project was questioned by a partner regarding the status. He was in the process of gathering data and didn’t have a good answer, but of course the boss wanted answers when she asked for it. My poor co-worker was left in a position where he could flourish or flounder, he chose the latter. He admitted he hadn’t gathered the data on time and took a scolding. In reality he knew from experience and managing the project that it was 80% complete, he didn’t know that exactly 82.23/100 project steps had been completed, but he had a good understanding of the situation; however, his pathetic answer made it sound like he was off track and incapable of managing the project. Had he bullshitted, just slightly, and provided her with what he DID KNOW it would have saved him a lot of grief.
I’ve had other situations come up in the consulting environment that were the same way. A client would ask me a very specific hypothetical question and instead of looking at him/her like an idiot I told the client what I DID KNOW. Maybe I’m not sure how the latest programming language can solve X problem, but I do know a few of the best practices for IT security and programming – maybe even a few resources they could check out for the information. So instead of looking like a dumbass, I came through with a value add. Sometimes that’s how you earn your paycheck.
That’s just life though. Knowing when to “fake it until you make it” and when to back off and admit you don’t know. If you don’t know the difference and when to use each – then you’ll likely fail or spend your life in a dark grey cubical working for a bunch of bullshitters. That’s a free piece of advice from yours truly.