Bob Goldman
Do you ever feel people at your job don't know you exist?

Do you sit through long meetings where no one asks your opinion? Do you walk through the halls and no one asks, "How you doing?" Does workplace life swirl all around you, leaving you in a vacuum of silence and isolation?

If you answer, "yes, indeed" to these questions, I have news for you -- you're not being ignored or insulted. You, my friend, are an Invisible.

Invisible, as it turns out, is not a terrible thing to be. As Richard Eisenberg writes in a recent article in Forbes, "Invisibles at Work, Take a Bow," Invisibles may be unseen and unheralded, but they are important. So important, in fact, that author David Zweig, a somewhat shadowy figure himself, has written an entire book about the subject, "Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion."

According to Zweig, Invisibles are "highly regarded people whose work is really critical to their endeavor." In other words, they're skilled professionals who are vital to the successful operation of their companies, yet no one knows they exist. Nor is anyone likely to ever know they exist. That's because, for most Invisibles, "the better they do their job, the more they disappear. It's only if something goes wrong that they're ever thought of. If they do their job perfectly, they are unnoticed."

Since doing your job perfectly is something that is never going to happen, it is unlikely you will always wear that comfy cloak of invisibility. But should you make total invisibility a goal? That's an interesting question. The answer seems to depend on certain personal beliefs you may or may not bring to the workplace.

For example, are you one of those weirdoes who like to get credit for your work? If so, you are unlikely to enjoy being an Invisible. But maybe you are wrong about the benefits of being noticed. As author Zweig writes in "Invisibles," "receiving outward credit for your work is overrated." (You wouldn't know whether this were true or not, since you so rarely receive credit, outward or inward or sideways. This is partially because you do so little work, of course. It is also because your managers are narcissistic jerks.)

Another important aspect of becoming an Invisible is a willingness to hop off the self-promotion bandwagon. Invisibles don't have a "personal brand." They are not Tiffany & Co., and they are not Kmart. They are not tweeting their brand personality on Twitter. and they have a negative number of friends on Facebook. Even people who don't know them unfriend them!


Bob Goldman

Bob Goldman is a business humor writer.

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