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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See also Emotions at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

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Workplace speech and writing sometimes strays into the land of pretentious but overused business phrases, which I like to call high falutin' goofy talk. We use these phrases with perhaps less thought than they deserve, because they can be trite or can evoke indecorous images. Here's Part III of a collection of phrases and images to avoid. Available here and by RSS on July 18.
Office equipment — or is it office toys?And on July 25: Exploiting Functional Fixedness: II
A cognitive bias called functional fixedness causes difficulty in recognizing new uses for familiar things. It also makes for difficulty in recognizing devious uses of everyday behaviors. Here's Part II of a catalog of deviousness based on functional fixedness. Available here and by RSS on July 25.

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