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 U.S. 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:

A bicycle raceDealing with Your Own Anger
However perceptive we become about what can anger us, we still do get angry once in a while. Here are four steps to help you deal with your own anger.
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When we communicate, we can't control how other people interpret our communications. Accidental offense is inevitable, and email is especially likely to produce examples of this problem. What can we do as members of electronic communities when trouble erupts?
FeedbackFeedback Fumbles
"Would you like some feedback on that?" Uh-oh, you think, absolutely not. But if you're like many of us, your response is something like, "Sure, I'd be very interested in your thoughts." Why is giving and receiving feedback so difficult?
ScissorsThose Across-the-Board Cuts That Aren't
One widespread feature of organizational life is the announcement of across-the-board cuts. Although they're announced, they're rarely "across-the-board." What's behind this pattern? How can we change it to a more effective, truthful pattern?
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United StatesPower Affect
Expressing one's organizational power to others is essential to maintaining it. Expressing power one does not yet have is just as useful in attaining it.

See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Passing the baton in a relay raceComing January 24: Understanding Delegation
It's widely believed that managers delegate some of their own authority and responsibility to their subordinates, who then use that authority and responsibility to get their work done. That view is unfortunate. It breeds micromanagers. Available here and by RSS on January 24.
A serene mountain lakeAnd on January 31: Nine Brainstorming Demotivators: I
The quality of the output of brainstorming sessions is notoriously variable. One source of variation is the enthusiasm of contributors. Here's Part I of a set of nine phenomena that can limit contributions to brainstorm sessions. Available here and by RSS on January 31.

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Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:

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