Success is about being a great BULLSHITTER

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.

6 thoughts on “Success is about being a great BULLSHITTER

  1. jon

    Interesting. I wonder if part of your coworker’s problem was also being intimidated by the boss’ questioning. I wonder if the same question had come up around the coffee table in a relaxed safe environment whether he might have been able to give a better response about the project status.

    1. Atticus Finch Post author

      No doubt that was the case. We discussed it later (over beers) and he admitted that he should have handled it differently. That’s part of what inspired me to write the post. At one point I said in jest “next time you should just bullshit…” 🙂

  2. Sofia M

    Hi Atticus,
    After a couple hours of looking for a “crisis management/business continuity” online or workshop certification program, I came across your post and finally felt like I hit the bullseye. My boss has asked me to find a certification course that could basically help me work on the “art of bullshitting” after a quality fiasco occured with one of our products. Do you have any recommendations or know of any resources? Anything could help, all im finding online is natural disaster type business continuty training and thats not what im looking for…
    Thanks in advance,
    A very frustrated customer service rep

  3. Trae

    I’m very pleased to find that other people have similar thought processes as I do. I have found throughout life that “bullshitting” my way through certain debates, situations, etc. that it usually helps me come out on top in the outcome. With this being said, of course one would have to know a lot about the topic, and having a good, quick witty response always seems to help. It’s definitely a good charming tool to have as well.

  4. karla

    This is so true. I’m a teacher and my first boss advice me to never flounder and my second boss said I’m too honest and need to be a better bullshitter. Life is great at my new job. I learned to keep quiet and pretend I know it all. Life is so much easier when people don’t get the opportunity to stomp on me when I would admit or revel too much of my flaws. I learned now to not reveal my cards on the table.


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