1. Small Talk Relationships Aren’t Necessarily Empty Relationships
Office small-talk has been endlessly mocked in beer commercials, situational comedies, and my friend’s twitter account. The reasoning here is definitely sound and sensible; there’s only so much one can take of hearing about how crazy it is that it’s cloudy outside.
Personally, I’ve come to appreciate these small-talk relationships. In this small-talker’s opinion, there’s something to be said about understanding one another on an explicitly basic level.
Small talk relationships tacitly say, “you’re probably a cool person, but let’s be honest — we both already have enough friends, and we both don’t need to add someone else to our ‘let’s get drinks’ list.” It’s a wonderfully mature agreement, and talking about the weather is a great way to maintain an air of friendliness without having to get too invested.
2. Everyone’s Struggling To Get By In Their Own Way
The woman in branding, with the overpaid position who leaves at 4 every day? She could be rushing every day to the hospital to care for a sick loved one.
It’s easy to project bitterness based on salary and relative work discrepancies, but the workplace never paints the entire picture. There’s always a chance that the person who seemingly “has it all” very much doesn’t.
3. People Are 100% Hilarious When In “Meeting Mode”
I once worked with this guy who liked to say buzzwordy phrases like “the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.” He started saying said phrases quite frequently at weekly meetings, to the point where I and another close co-worker couldn’t help but silently crack up every time he said it.
Once, our laughter was a little too strong. When we were asked if there was anything we’d like to share, we noted that we didn’t. At that particular moment, the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze.
4. Misery Is A State Of Mind
Jobs, particularly office jobs, don’t necessarily get rave reviews in the fun department. According to a 2013 Gallup Survey, only 13% o employees feel “engaged” at work.
Liking one’s job is a tricky concept to dissect. At some point in history — probably the past century or so — jobs moved from something you needed to do in order to live, to something that should serve as a vehicle to self-actualization. Regardless, society has seemingly concluded that you should, in some capacity, strive to enjoy your job.
At one internship I had, two troublemaker-y employees used to find creative ways to scare each other — if the other person flinched, that was a point. If the scare-tactic cause a distraction for another employee or the office in general, they’d lose a point.
One of the participants told me he used the running game as motivation to get work done — that’d he’d complete task X, and then spend the next half hour coming up with a way to scare the other guy. Ridiculous and outrageous, but I’m pretty sure it made them both much more excited to go to work.
5. There’s Only So Many Times You Can Walk Over To Get Water Without Being “Always Getting Water Guy”
Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. (I’ve been this guy.)
6. “Success” Is Something Different For Everyone
The career track mindset (in America, at least), is generally one predicated on constant advancement; advancement in title and prestige, and advancement in salary.
For many a career field, more prestige also means more work and obligation; but more obligation usually means to more hours, which usually leads to more stress and more devotion to work.
At every office I’ve been a part of, there’s been a handful of people who actively don’t follow the norms of said trajectory. Sometimes these people are simply incompetent, but other times it’s very clear that this is a personal choice. Said individuals will put in the work that’s required of them, but rarely more. They’ll show up on time, but never stay past their firm leave time.
What I’m saying is, it’s interesting to see the divergence of human values within a given system. I don’t think you could say the purposely adequate employee is smarter than the person moving through seven coffees and 14 hour days — they just want something different out of that portion of their life.
7. Look For The Hidden Gems
Last week, accomplished and widely respected comedy writer Harris Wittels tragically passed away. Longtime friend and collaborator Aziz Ansari wrote an incredibly thoughtful and heartfelt tribute to Wittels. In the tribute, Ansari shared a number of Harris’ outrageous running gags, jokes, and other “Harris-isms” that showcased what Ansari described as a “genuinely amazing and original presence.”
While our co-workers almost certainly won’t ever reach the comedic brilliance of Mr. Wittels, we’ve all received the occasional gem email, or outrageous comment that manages to say so much about a person, a workplace, or a set of conditions. These things often aren’t appreciated in the long-term, but they certainly should be.
8. If You’re In The Mood For An Excruciatingly Long Convo, Ask Your Co-Worker If They Prefer Starbucks Or Dunkin’
Ask your cubicle-mate if they prefer Starbucks or Dunkin’, and you probably won’t get a direct response. But you might get a 25 slide deck, pointing out everything from price differential, to DFO (distance from office), to sips-to-burnt-tongue ratio.