For years, career experts, myself included, would stress that if you helped your company, you helped yourself; that those who contributed to the company's bottom line would be seen as assets and would be valued. But, sad to say, that has changed. Today, everyone from the man sitting in a basement cubicle making telephone sales calls, to the woman in the top-floor corner office who reports only to the board of directors, is a temporary employee. The only rational response to this situation is to look out for number one.

You need to approach performance reviews, networking meetings, job interviews, giving notice, and negotiating salary with laserlike focus on your own needs, not those of the other party. It pains me to say it, but concessions or offers you make out of anything other than mercenary motives will not yield a similar response in kind. Today, when you turn the other cheek in the workplace, you just get slapped twice.

That doesn't mean you're free to be overtly self-centered. However much everyone intellectually understands the situation, it's not yet politic to acknowledge it. Even a nod-and-a-wink approach could get you branded as not being a "team player." And while that's a trait that earns no rewards in the modern workplace, the perceived lack of it can result in your being branded.

The solution is to rationalize your actions as results of the workplace environment, and to describe your motivations as being for personally pure motives. ...

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