Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 5, Issue 25;   June 22, 2005: The Loopy Things We Do at Work

The Loopy Things We Do at Work

by

At the end of the day, your skill at finding humor inside the dull and ordinary can make the difference between going home exhausted and going home in a strait jacket. Adopting a twisted view of the goings-on might just help keep you untwisted.
Locate your dry cleaning wherever it is in one of the Standard Time Zones of the World

Locate your dry cleaning wherever it is in one of the Standard Time Zones of the World. Image courtesy US Central Intelligence Agency

Life at work can get pretty loopy sometimes — so loopy that the real trick can be not losing your mind. One way to maintain your perspective is to find the humor in the zaniness we call work. Here are some of the more ridiculous things some of us have to put up with every day.

  • Sitting in endless meetings that are totally irrelevant to anything you actually do, while the rest of your responsibilities go down in flames.
  • Flying somewhere, and looking forward mostly to the few hours of peace you get while you're actually on board the aircraft.
  • Looking at the cafeteria menu, expecting to find something that you haven't eaten every day for the last six months and which is also both tasty and non-life-threatening.
  • You and the other smokers having to stand outside the building entrance puffing fast enough to avoid frostbite in the winter, or to avoid melting in the summer.
  • Having 80% of your daily exercise consist of sprinting through the wall of tobacco smoke that surrounds every entrance to your building.
  • Having a medical plan that doesn't cover smoking cessation.
  • Being forced to resort to Yahoo or Hotmail to get some email privacy.
  • It's pretty loopy
    to have a
    medical plan
    that doesn't cover
    smoking cessation
    Getting so much email that you have to have somebody screen it, then to recover your privacy, setting up another email account for personal stuff, then getting too much email there, and wondering what the heck you can do now.
  • Getting mounds of email from people complaining about other people sending too much email.
  • Carefully keeping confidential something everybody already knows, then getting asked if you do know anything about it, and having to deny all knowledge to someone who knows that you know.
  • Hearing a rumor about yourself, knowing it's true, but wishing it were false.
  • Hearing a rumor about yourself, knowing it's false, but wishing it were true.
  • Telling subordinates that their jobs have been eliminated, knowing that they know it's a lie, while you simultaneously wonder how long it will be till your boss tells you the exact same thing.
  • Hoping to get promoted into a job where you'll have the opportunity to tell subordinates that their jobs have been eliminated, knowing that they know it's a lie, etc., etc.
  • Relying on a blog written by some guy who got downsized three years ago, as your best source of information about what's happening on the floor above yours.
  • Having to stay home to get some work done.
  • Waking up in the morning thinking you're in a city that you aren't actually in.
  • Having dry cleaning in two or more time zones.
  • Learning by conducting actual experiments that in the other hemisphere the water doesn't really go down the toilet the other way.

Probably there are some loopy goings-on where you work. One of them might be believing that there aren't any. Another might be reading lists of loopy goings-on at work. Go to top Top  Next issue: Deniable Intimidation  Next Issue

Rick BrennerThe article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More

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Related articles

More articles on Emotions at Work:

Hard at WorkThe Tweaking CC
When did you last receive an email message with a "tweaking CC"? Probably yesterday. A tweaking CC is usually a CC to your boss or possibly the entire known universe, designed to create pressure by exposing embarrassing information.
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Workplace touching can be friendly, or it can be dangerous and intimidating. When touching is used to intimidate, it often works, because intimidators know how to select their targets. If you're targeted, what can you do?
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We all want to believe that we can rely on the good judgment of decision makers when they make decisions that affect organizational performance. But they're human, and they are therefore subject to a cognitive bias known as self-serving bias. Here's a look at what can happen.
A diagram of effects illustrating these two loops in the Restructuring-Fear CycleThe Restructuring-Fear Cycle: Part I
When enterprises restructure, reorganize, downsize, outsource, spin off, relocate, lay off, or make other adjustments, they usually focus on financial health. Often ignored is the fear these changes create in the minds of employees. Sadly, that fear can lead to the need for further restructuring.
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Performance appraisal practices and project retrospectives both rely on evaluating performance after outcomes are known. Unfortunately, a well-known bias — hindsight bias — can limit the effectiveness of many organizational processes, including both performance appraisal and project retrospectives.

See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

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Ramblers are people who can't get to the point. They ramble, they get lost in detail, and listeners can't follow their logic, if there is any. How can you deal with ramblers while maintaining civility and decorum? Available here and by RSS on April 5.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2016And on April 12: How to Listen to Someone Who's Dead Wrong
Sometimes we must listen attentively to someone with whom we strongly disagree. The urge to interrupt can be overpowering. How can we maintain enough self-control to really listen? Available here and by RSS on April 12.

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