Friday, July 25, 2014

"DON'T BE A DORK AT WORK" By Rod C. Estrera - 25 July 2014

Don’t Be A Dork At Work

By Rod C. Estrera

"DORK" – Pronunciation: (US) /dɔːɹk/ or (UK) /dɔːk/.  Noun: Dork (Plural: Dorks)

Definitions:*

(obsolete, vulgar, slang) A penis. [from the 20th Century]

(pejorative, slang) A quirky, silly and/or stupid, socially inept person, or one who is out of touch with contemporary trends.  Often confused with nerd and geek, but does not imply the same level of intelligence. [from the 20th Century]

Narrowly used to indicate someone inept or out of touch, broadly used to mean simply “silly, foolish”; compare doofus, twit.

Despite its rather vulgar origins and implications, the word “Dork” is now part of our modern vernacular, even at our places of work, especially when used to refer to a colleague, be it a peer, a subordinate or even a superior, who fits the definition above, but may not necessarily be a total moron, imbecile or idiot.

That word, and the whole topic in general, actually arose during a recent informal gathering of friends and associates.  A number of those present were complaining, or even griping, about their officemates whom they described as not being absolutely stupid, but just mostly out-of-touch with reality, generating irrelevant and unproductive output, statements and decisions.

Our animated discussions on these grievances necessitated an appropriate description or adjective.  Hence, the word “Dork” sprang up.  However, some of those present were not entirely sure what the word actually meant, thus resulting in another spirited debate.  The definition stated above was culled from a quick online research following that gathering and ultimately shared with those present, who unanimously agreed on the choice of that word.

Maybe I should have just let it go at that, and be as satisfied as the others in finding the right word and using it unsparingly whenever the need arose to refer to someone befitting that noun and/or adjective.  But now, the obsessive-compulsive streak in me wanted to put even more meaning to the word by putting together a basic list of traits and/or characteristics of a “Dork” in a work environment. 

After a backyard research effort via a quick survey among some of my friends and associates, who will remain anonymous for now (lest they jeopardize their careers), the following are 10 items, any or more of which constitute highly-irritating and annoying “Dorky” behavior that we all, as much as possible, should not emulate at work.  Interestingly, most of these items are more relevant and applicable to leaders, managers and executives:
  1. Being in a constant state of denial regarding serious long-term or recurring problems, hoping that these would just eventually disappear someday;
  2. Lacking or having no ability to be proactive, along with minimal planning skills, tending to simply be reactive towards one’s circumstances or the turn of events;
  3. Obsession with irrelevant minutiae or topics during meetings, especially when there are other crucial items that need to be immediately tackled;
  4. Fixation with one’s gadgets or devices during meetings, totally shutting-out those present;
  5. Having no sense of urgency, especially during highly-critical conditions or in a crisis;
  6. Poor time management skills, especially when being extremely late to meetings that he or she particularly organized or called for;
  7. Poor meeting management skills, specifically the ability to hold a meeting within a reasonable time frame, often digressing too much from the agenda, or not even having a properly-prepared agenda in the first place;
  8. Often takes perverse pleasure in intrigues, gossip and office politics, even if he or she is not the primary source or an active promoter of such;
  9. Is usually unable to rationally justify one’s actions and/or decisions;
  10. Childish or bratty behavior as a means to help ensure getting what one wants.
There are certainly many more traits, but the above are the Top 10 that I gathered which I believe can and do severely affect the growth, productivity and sustainable viability of any team, organization or society, especially if any of these characteristics are manifested by those in positions of leadership or authority.

Therefore, if you want to get ahead in your job and in your career, do yourself a real favor and don’t be a Dork at Work.

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* Selected Relevant Sources:

1.  Wordorigins.org, Dave Wilton, June 11, 2006.
2.  Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).
3.  Lawrence Poston, “Some Problems in the Study of Campus Slang,” American Speech 39, No. 2 (May 1964)
4.  Historical Dictionary of American Slang, v. 1, A-G, Edited by Jonathan Lighter (New York: Random House, 1994).
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