Watson, Holmes and some other bloke reading Benign to Five

I’ve been writing a weekly column for the MyCareer section of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald since 2012. It’s called Benign to Five.

The brief? “Do your blog thing, but make it about work”.

The Haught guide to end-of-year parties

Rule 2: Don't dance. Dancing was invented in 1971 by Dr Hubert van de Waggelen as a cruel and unethical social experiment and was never meant to leave his dungeon/laboratory in Utrecht. It incomprehensibly caught on, spread across the world and was retro-fitted with a centuries-old (and far happier) history. By dancing you are (now knowingly) legitimising the perverted experiments of a wicked, wicked man. Read the post...

How good words turn bad

The items that we now categorise as weasel words, wank language and corporate buzzwords weren’t always the indefensible, indecipherable brain-slop of desk-shackled keyboard tappers. Almost every single one began as a word or term that didn’t make you want to chainsaw it alive and throw its corpse into an abandoned quarry. Read the post...

The Haught guide to burning career bridges

Several times I’ve approached the edge of the career abyss and thought, “Oo, that gaping void looks alluring." Read the post...

ParentHaught: Lessons learnt from the University of Fatherhood

Parenthood is a classroom like no other, and much that you learn within it is applicable to your daily life. Like saying that an audible fart was a frog noise, for example. Read the post...

Is Mondayitis real?

Is Mondayitis an actual, serious psychophysiological illness or just a throwaway malady akin to man flu and hose buttock? To find out, I asked former GP and practising psychologist Dr Egan Patiens. Read the post...

On being a strange generational hybrid

I’m generationally awry. I have the Birth Certificate, digital literacy and firm buttocks of a Generation Y, but the basic grammatical skills, suspicion of young people, latent revolutionary zeal and ever-present fear of imminent apocalypse of a Baby Boomer. Read the post...

Regrets? Surely you have a few

Some people ask me while I’m signing autographs or they’re basking in the fresh-baked-bread warmth of my celebrity, “Jonathan, have you ever written something you wish you could take back?” I always tell them “yes”, even though it’s patently untrue and every one of my pieces of work to date has, on any objective scale, been […] Read the post...

The Haught guide to "too much information"

There’s an acronym doing the rounds on the interconnected network of digitised information at the moment. You might be familiar with it. It’s TMI. It stands for “too much information”. According to Urban Dictionary… actually, no I just checked and I can’t use any definitions from Urban Dictionary without risking losing the few remaining followers […] Read the post...

The Haught guide to people who love drama

A little while ago a friend thought one of my articles was a pointed reference to his own behaviour. It wasn’t. This was just his own giant ego and tendency towards solipsism playing tricks with his very small mind. What a neurotic clown he was for making such an assumption; I would never besmirch his already […] Read the post...

"How's working at McDonald's going for you?"

“So what do you do for a living, Johnson?” “Uh… it's Jonathan... I’m a… well, a writer.” “A writer? You write books? Novels?” “No, no, no. No. Definitely not. "No." "But I do write a little thing… a little columny thing… in the paper.” Read the post...

The Haught guide to "deep dives"

I’m all for metaphors. If variety is the spice of life then metaphors are the smoked paprika of language. I just made a metaphor out of a metaphor; that’s how highly I regard them. But my veneration for the figurative extends only so far. Like so many things sucked into the corporate vortex, metaphors become […] Read the post...

The Haught guide to resigning

We often look back on the decision to resign from a job as a happy career juncture, a fork in the career road with a perfectly-cooked career sausage on the end of it. But the moment itself, that ten or fifteen seconds in which we have to tell our manager that we're pulling the work pin, is almost always filled with trembling anxiety. Read the post...

The Haught guide to bringing stuff to life

I went into the [Smorgy's] cellar to look for the propane torch we sometimes used to keep at bay the warthogs that accumulated around the restaurant's perimeter after midnight. Read the post...

What made the 1980s great

The subtext is dance like nobody will remember your lycra-clad thrusting because they’ll all be dead. Love like humiliating rejection doesn’t feel so bad in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Sing like tomorrow your vocal chords will be dust. Read the post...

How to become a thought leader

My new year resolution was to become a thought leader. I’ve already achieved it. I got my accreditation from the Society for the Promotion of Integrated Thought Leadership in the mail yesterday. How? That’s a very good question and, as a thought leader, it is my solemn duty to answer as condescendingly as possible. There are […] Read the post...

What is content?

"Content" is one of those words that gained popularity so quickly, people fell over themselves, and the bodies of others - some dead from suffocation and trampling - to start using it. They believed there was no time to stop and consider what it truly meant or in what context it should be used - they just went for it, hard and fast like two lab rats in a sex hormone experiment. Read the post...

The Haught guide to summer fashion

Of course, 1970 was a different time. I was minus 12 years old back then, so my memory of the era is a bit sketchy, but the ad tells us this was a time when 60 year-old men in exposed knee-high white socks consulted blueprints while standing. Read the post...

The Murphy's Law truth about your Year 12 results

If you bugger up your final exams and get a score that doesn’t reflect your hard work and talent, you will inevitably end up in professional circles where every single person with the power to give you a job considers your ATAR or your OP to be a perfect and unchallengeable predictor of your professional competence. Read the post...

The Haught guide to inadvertent plagiarism

I had one of those abject moments of deflation last year. You know the ones: they came just after you realise a piece of your work – or the concept behind it – which you’d considered original in the most pristine sense, has been done before? OK, to be fair “in the most pristine sense” […] Read the post...

The Haught guide to "downsizing"

One day, in the not too distant future people will be coming home from work telling their partners “Love - I was permanently de-salaried today because the company’s optimaligning has led to my role being seajourneyed.” Read the post...

The Haught guide to Jehovah's Witnesses

Years before I became a worldly, cynical and wildly popular blogger, Jehovah's Witnesses preyed on me like I was a baby wildebeest with polio who'd been isolated from the herd and was click-clacking around the savannah in ill-fitting wildebeest calipers. Read the post...

The Haught guide to lying

Lying during job interviews is now par for the course. Well, it might be par. It might also be an excellent sub par round, replete with stupendously stylish trousers and a hole-out eagle from a fairway bunker with a five iron. It might even be a round so bad you miss the metaphorical cut. It all depends on how well you fib. The point is, everyone does it. Read the post...

The Haught guide to competition

To be truly competitive in a professional setting you must see each of your colleagues as brick walls blocking the road joining the towns of Career Mediocrity and Career Triumph. You should feel the urgent need to repeatedly sledgehammer them. Read the post...

"There are no stupid questions" is a lie

I walked into the storeroom at Burwood Smorgy's and found the manager wearing only a felt sock puppet and dancing a passionate samba with a 45 kilogram bag of desiree potatoes. If this was written into fate at the beginning of time, then the Predeterminer must have one hell of an imagination. Read the post...

The Haught guide to meetings

...What ensued was a kind of Stalinist purge, but instead of people vanishing, it was working time that was systematically liquidated or sent to the gulag. Hour by hour, the amount of time we had to do our jobs was slowly deleted, replaced by meetings. Read the post...

Chucking a spickie

Is it OK to let a weekend’s sport result affect your mood at work? Absolutely not. It’s unprofessional, unfair on colleagues and morally wrong. You should take the day off instead. Read the post...

Life coaches

A life coach? What in buggery does that even mean? She doesn’t coach volleyball or singing or better study methods. Pru coaches all of these things, plus more. 'More', logically, being everything else in the entire world... Read the post...

The Haught guide to creating your own Wikipedia entry

Writing your own Wikipedia entry is unethical, inappropriate, obnoxious and against Wikipedia guidelines. Here’s how you do it. Read the post...

The Haught guide to first impressions

The moral of the story is avoid hedging your bets. If you’re not sure about what to wear, either dress for the ballroom or nude up. Read the post...

The Voice: a conversation

“A seal? One of the judges is a marine mammal? I’m definitely watching the show now. Why haven't you told me about this show before?” Read the post...

A love letter

My dearest, I missed you yesterday. I missed you so much that my head ached. My body yearned for you and, without your gentle direction, my mind wandered. Read the post...

ParentHaught: how to introduce your baby to the office

A year ago, almost to this day, the stork came. It was 2.30pm on a Sunday. That evening we were cuddling a snowy-haired girl and eating stork for dinner. Well, you know how bad hospital food is. Read the post...

ParentHaught: baby rules for working mums and dads

The word “we” has absolutely no place in describing or announcing the birth. One partner goes through 8 to 30 hours of unrelenting agony before forcing a juvenile member of the species through a very small bodily opening. The other stands bedside, grimacing, patting, squeezing and cooing. There is no “we”. Read the post...

The Haught guide to "driving"

If you’re reading this having set out with me on the Haught journey right back at the start – the very first post – thank you. You’ll no doubt remember that I long ago compared modern journeys to the wonderful (although admittedly futile) adventures that took place in the 1970s Japanese TV series, Monkey. (I think of […] Read the post...

"Forget you, pal..."

I understand the world through the prism of early episodes of The Simpsons. Who between the ages of 25 and 40 doesn’t? (If you just put up your hand or sheepishly whispered “me”, I’m frankly suspicious of you and will regard you as a degenerate until you present me with evidence to the contrary.) Anyway, there’s an episode of The […] Read the post...

The Haught guide to choosing your spirit animal

Ten years ago, if someone had asked you what your spirit animal was, you’d have moved to the other end of the tram, dialled 000 into your Motorola flip phone and sat, quivering, with your thumb poised over the call button. Today it’s as unremarkable and pedestrian as pulled pork on a brioche bun with […] Read the post...

The Haught guide to the word "strategic"

In this ultra-cynical age, the word ‘panacea’ has been splashed with negative connotations. The 21st century has no time for the idea of utopia, and there is, admittedly, something slightly utopian about a remedy for everything in the universe ever. For that reason ‘panacea’ is a word – not unlike ‘alchemy’ and ‘Vodafone’ – that […] Read the post...

Our shared fear of telephone calls

The telephone has always been an untrustworthy intermediary masquerading as an inanimate conduit. It is a great manipulator, playing both parties off against one another at every opportunity. Read the post...

Emoticons: an exchange

Sit down. I need to talk with you about something. No, sit on the chair the right way round, please – you’re 45 now. And this is quite serious. I… don’t know how to ask this, but… Are you… are you using. You know what I’m talking about. Oh, for goodness sake – don’t make me […] Read the post...

A letter to kitchen foulers

Print this post and cut out the letter below, then stick it on or above your kitchen fridge or sink at work (or at home). I wrote it, so it goes without saying that it’s exactly what you’ve always wanted to say to your filthy co-workers (or housemates), but were too polite to put into […] Read the post...

Vernon Quest, confidant extraordinaire

For the purposes of this article, I’ll call him Vernon Quest. Because that was his name. (Hello, Verne, if you’re reading this, unlikely as that is given that you’re dead.) When I arrived at the company at which Vernon and I became colleagues his reputation as a workplace confidant preceded him. He had acquired the […] Read the post...

The Haught guide to new year cliches

Is there anything worse than new year work cliches? Yes – many things – among them child labour, Kyle Sandilands and nearly every jellyfish species. But nothing makes you feel more like a minuscule, barely-required cog in the clockwork of capitalism than being congratulated for spending Christmas “recharging the batteries”. Even worse is the language […] Read the post...

The Haught guide to new year resolutions

  New year resolutions have been considered naff and juvenile so widely and for such a long time that they’re now, inevitably, about to come back into fashion. Written by one of the internet’s great trendsetters, this article will only turn that probability into a certainty. This year, I resolve to create a sarcastic Haught […] Read the post...

Lessons from The Grape Men

Never let the fact there’s ostensibly nothing left to do get in the way of a 12-hour working day. Pickaxing a bare patch of ground, reversing a truck into a position and then moving it back into its original position and thrashing at a fence with a piece of rope are all examples of noble labour. Read the post...

A few good words

Linguists recently identified around 20 words still doing the rounds today that were being uttered as many as 15,000 years ago. They included 'spit', 'worm' and 'mother'. 'Learnings', 'empowerment' and ‘monetise’ weren't on the list. But these are such sturdy, evocative and indispensible words that I have no doubt they'll be around 15 millenia hence. This got me thinking about what words not yet in the dictionary THAT I hope will be getting verbally lobbed across offices and work sites thousands of years from now. Read the post...

The Haught guide to know-it-alls

In most cases... these people are barely able to keep their heads above the scum-topped liquid of their own career puddles despite wearing an inflatable giraffe ring around their waist at all times (sometimes metaphorical, often not). Read the post...

The 31 year old curmudgeon

In my day there were horses over the back fence in middle-suburban Melbourne, my Grade 3 teacher wrote “Go the Demons” on my report card and the 20 cent piece you found lying on the ground in Coles New World bought you a veritable cornucopia of milk bar lollies. Read the post...

The Haught guide to doing what you wanna do

As I was de-mounding the plates of porcine humans, I saw no prospect of becoming the Universe-famous digital vigilante and high-profile columnist I so longed to be. I saw no prospect of anything, really. Read the post...

The Haught guide to loud sneezers

The problem of loud sneezers in the office is almost universally shrugged away as a mild annoyance. The idea that epic nasal detonations are on a par with double booked meeting rooms or coffee breath is dangerous conventional wisdom. In fact, those who get to the 130 decibel mark or above are nothing less than a menace that must be ripped from the coalface, roots and all, like the insidious species of human weed they are. Read the post...

The worst conference ever

The first speaker of the day called himself an inspiration vocaliser and assured everyone present that the secret to work life happiness was getting your job title right. He then slid down from the stage on an inflatable ramp he called the Dream Realisation Embankment and began asking people to say their job titles into his “Psych-rophone”, which was just a giant peach-coloured microphone. Read the post...

The Magical Lavatory

But the greatest moment of all was when I witnessed a bloke lose control of his pendulum. He was a flighty individual and must have feared having someone standing beside him at the urinals; that was understandable. What I had more trouble empathising with was the exclamation “Wh-wh-whoooa!” followed a furious flurry of activity during which urine passed over the top of the nearby cubicle and squirted into his own face. It was like a small child trying to regain control of a full-bore fire hose. Read the post...

The Haught guide to applying for jobs

What a drag it is applying for jobs. The world would be a far better place if you could just walk into an organisation at which you knew there was a vacancy that suited you, crack your knuckles and tell those in charge: “I’ll take it from here. And my fee is $83 an hour.” […] Read the post...

The Haught guide to small talk

What should be the subject of the mandatory conversation you strike up with odious or uninspiring colleagues? Here are a few aces to put up your sleeve... Read the post...

The Haught guide to work toilet banditry

If you’re reading this and have worked in an office with mostly upper-middle class colleagues but never encountered the sort of lavatory foulness you’d associate with a cholera-infected Mumbai slum you’re in a tiny and very lucky minority. Read the post...

The Haught guide to fudging your resume

          The lord of the white lies I once told a lie. It was many, many years ago, and the details are inconsequential. My point is, even the very best of us tell fibs from time to time. Dishonesty should not be summarily dismissed as the preserve of the morally unsound. Read the post...

The Haught guide to office dating

Friends have informed me that the internet dating scene is moribund. Realising that traditional partner-finding avenues are now back in vogue, I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s column to office prowling tips. Read the post...

The Haught guide to snake oil salesmen

The worst mistake you can make as a citizen of the 21st century is believe that the age in which it was possible to quit one’s job and take to the road selling a miracle tincture made of tree sap, rancid avocado juice and buffalo urine is long past. Read the post...

Benign to Five on networking

The official Haught guide to effective, strategic, synergistic networking, going forward. Read the post...

How to write a mission statement

Today, the corporation fills the societal role once taken by knights and other masked crusaders. Primarily, it exists to undertake acts of great altruism, selflessness and civic good, so it's guided not by an "objective", but a "mission". If you're granted the great privilege of crafting this superheroic manifesto, don't waver: your mandate to be bold and colourful is contained in the document's very name: mission statement. If they didn't want it to be breathtakingly inspiring, they would have called it an "aim summary" or a "goal list". Read the post...

The Haught guide to change managers

  Every single word I write on these pages and in the pages of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald is true. If my stories and accounts sound far-fetched, it is because I have lived a rich, kaleidoscopic life, replete with encounters that stretch the outer membrane of believability to near-breaking point and acquaintances living astride the boundary dividing […] Read the post...

The Haught guide to "moving forward"

"Moving forward" (aka "going forward") seems as popular today as when it first burst on to the corporate scene like an alien out of an unimportant character's chest. Read the post...

Benign to Five on "When I grow up..."

What do you reckon Alan Jones wanted to be when he was growing up? What about Kyle Sandilands? Or Pat Raw? These aren’t rhetorical questions, and I’m going to attempt to answer them in order: Pantomime horse. Condom vending machine maintenance person. Chicken sexer. It’s fun to look back at your preferred career at the […] Read the post...

The Haught guide to "journeys"

I don’t ask much from you, dear reader, so when I tell you today that I have a task for you, I’d appreciate it if you take it seriously, complete it assiduously and then report back in detail on your findings. Here’s the task. After reading this article, keep in mind the word “journey” and […] Read the post...

Resuming normal transmission

Haught hasn’t been running at full capacity recently. I first knew there was a problem when my daily visitor stats dropped radically. Where once I was getting 3.45 billion visits a day, now I was getting a measly 1.98 billion. I then started getting emails – up to 9000 a day – asking me whether […] Read the post...

The Haught guide to work farewells

While in Barcelona, I once hid in a lavatory to avoid dancing. The Contiki Tour I was on took us to a Flamenco bar and it became clear that, after dinner, each member of the tour would have to get up and dance with a proper Spanish Flamenco master (or mistress). The members of the […] Read the post...

Benign to Five on obliterating wank language

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.” At least that’s what the character Syme from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four reckons. Syme is a contributor to the Party’s dictionary of Newspeak, the language that will eventually replace standard English, and admits to the protagonist, Winston Smith, that he relishes destroying words. Of course, Orwell meant Syme’s words […] Read the post...

Benign to Five on knowing when to fold 'em

Is there a more frustrating end to a conversation than “get over it?” Possibly “whatever” or a massive expulsion of wind, but it’s a close-run thing. “Get over it” is a favourite of fuckwits the English-speaking world over, a way of losing an argument without technically losing an argument. If you’ve ever been told to […] Read the post...

Benign to Five on dealing with difficult people

Difficult people are a dime a dozen, aren’t they? That’s less than one cent each, and still you’re probably paying too much. People who use words like “douche” and “awesome” are difficult. People who speak loudly on trams are difficult. People who own Chapel Street bars are difficult. Shiny faced, purveyors of anger with persecution complexes are difficult. […] Read the post...

The Haught guide to "learnings"

‘‘Learnings’’ is like a two metre tall, English-speaking, double-wattled cassowary in post-apocalyptic leather body armour on a steam train singing Broadway musical numbers. Nobody knows what it is, how or why it got there — but, my word, do they love it. Read the post...

 

Comments ( 42 )

  1. The haught guide to fudging your resume Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  2. The Haught guide to applying for jobs - Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  3. The Magical Lavatory - Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  4. The worst conference ever - Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  5. The haught guide to "learnings" - Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  6. The 31 year old curmudgeon - Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  7. The Haught guide to know-it-alls - Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  8. A few good words - Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  9. The Haught guide to new year resolutions - Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  10. Emoticons: an exchange — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  11. A letter to kitchen foulers — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  12. The Haught guide to new year cliches — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  13. The Haught guide to grunting — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  14. Our shared fear of telephone calls — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  15. The Haught guide to the word "strategic" — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  16. "Forget you, pal..." — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  17. The Haught guide to choosing your spirit animal — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  18. ReplyPeter Joy
    Re Benign to five 23-24 May 2015 "The curious case of the columnist who cried wolf" from my experience - "socialise" means to circulate a document in draft or to float an idea, at noblest to seek comment and criticism from outside one's silo and at basest to stifle opposition and to identify opponents within one's silo before proceeding to "authorise" Thanks for your education and smiles
    • ReplyHaught
      Thanks Peter. I'll now socialise your definition around the Haught office (my head).
  19. The Haught guide to first impressions — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  20. Life coaches — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  21. The lies pleasant people peddle — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  22. The Haught guide to competition — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  23. The Haught guide to lying — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  24. The Haught guide to work farewells — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  25. The Haught guide to inadvertent plagiarism — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  26. The Haught guide to summer fashion — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  27. What is content? — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  28. How to become a thought leader — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  29. What made the 1980s great — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  30. The Haught guide to bringing stuff to life — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  31. The Haught guide to resigning —
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  32. The Haught guide to "deep dives" —
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  33. "How's working at McDonald's going for you?" —
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  34. The Haught guide to people who love drama —
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  35. Regrets? Surely you have a few —
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  36. Is Mondayitis real? — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  37. The Haught guide to burning career bridges — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]
  38. How good words turn bad — Haught
    […] Newspaper Columns […]

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