7 Surprising Things the Office Can Teach Us About Thriving in the Workplace

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When you first think of The Office, you probably don’t initially think of it as a source of workplace wisdom. Yet the quirky, and often times awkward, sitcom can provide us with some useful gems when it comes to dealing with your workplace.

1. Knowing When to NOT Say Something

It may go against your natural instincts to say exactly what is on your mind, but in the workplace voicing every thought is not always appropriate.

Though we are often encouraged to speak our minds and share our ideas in the workplace, there are times when divulging certain information isn’t a good idea.

Enter Michael Scott with an endless stream of inappropriate comments and jokes. Michael consistently puts his foot in his mouth and while it results in laughter for viewers, if put in a realistic situation, it would not be tolerated. This is especially true given his position as the manager of the Scranton branch, but I will get to the managerial skills later. Therefore, despite feeling an urge to tell a funny joke or to reveal office secrets, the best thing to do is keep quiet and save it for outside the office.

2. Diversity Matters

The Office has no shortage of diversity. The beauty of the show itself is that employees from different backgrounds come together to form a cohesive and quirky workplace. Each individual brings a special quality. Without the differences in race, religion, sexual orientation, and personality traits, the office would not work the way it does. This can be seen in any office around the world. Diversity helps companies grow and expand by bring different people together to formulate new and inventive ideas to the workplace.

The Office cast in the third season

3. It’s OK to Have Fun at Work

One of the most important things to remember during our Monday through Friday 9-5 jobs is that it’s not a bad thing to have a bit of fun in the office. As a former boss told me, from the Fish Philosophy, “Work made fun gets done. Play is not just an activity; it is a state of mind. If you play, you will bring new energy to tasks at hand and spark creative solutions.” In other words, find ways to love what you’ll do and you’ll never work a day in your life.
This could not be truer. I have worked in an office with an overbearing boss who made me feel like every time I smiled, I was not working hard enough. I can tell you right now, this environment did not bring out my best work and I was very unhappy. On the flip side I have worked for a boss who encouraged me to smile and joke around a bit with my colleagues. I was completely motivated and put extra effort into my work because I was enjoying my work. So step back, relax for a moment, and remember to have a little fun. Your blood pressure will thank you for it.h

4. Learn From Your Co-Workers

Co-workers can be an amazing source of information, if you just learn to open up and ask. As a young professional, I always try to glean as much information as I possibly can from more experienced colleagues. When Dwight took Ryan under his wing to teach him how to be a salesman, though Dwight’s teaching methods were unconventional, Ryan did walk (literally) away from the experience with some newfound knowledge. With the constant changes occurring in global business, we need to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from our coworkers.

5. Pass Things by Your Boss

Though some ideas are brilliant and putting these ideas into motion (immediately, if not sooner) can be a stroke of genius, there are times when ideas should be passed by your boss before implementing them. The best example of this can be seen in the fire drill Dwight so eagerly planned to test what the Dunder Mifflin employees knew about safety. The result? A mad riot of screaming, broken glass, and absolute mayhem as employees fled for their lives ending with Stanley experiencing a heart attack. Granted the likelihood of something like this occurring in reality is quite slim, but there is a lesson to be learned from this. Not all ideas are ready to implement right after you think of them. Many need to be well thought out, examined thoroughly by your boss or perhaps other colleagues, and then there needs to be a strategic plan of action before implementation. Don’t jump the gun before exploring all options and opinions.

6. Clear the Air

Conflict in the workplace is unavoidable at times. While it may seem easier to remain quiet and avoid confrontation, leaving issues unresolved can result in stress and a possibly blow up later on down the road. Admittedly, it’s very difficult to confront someone about a problem. It takes Pam getting up the courage to walk over hot coals to confront her colleagues, revealing how belittled and ignored she feels by those she works with. By being open and honest about her feelings she was able to resolve a dispute and felt significantly better after doing so. Whenever you experience conflict, the best solution is to clear the air. Colleagues will respect you for it and it will open the door for a mutual resolution.

Michael Scott (The Office)
Michael Scott (The Office)

7. Managerial Skills: What Not To Do

The most important thing anyone can learn from The Office is how not to manage employees. From being so self-absorbed that he ran over an employee to avoiding confrontation at every possible moment, Michael Scott exhibits the managerial behavior that all managers should avoid in the workplace. One of the greatest mistakes Michael makes as a manager is his relentless efforts to be adored by everyone in the office. As he stated in Season 1 “I am a friend first, boss second…” Though having an open and friendly manager can improve morale in the workplace, having a manager who is constantly trying to please everyone is not ideal. It is impossible for someone to make the tough decisions that need to be made and for that same person to be loved at the same time. Managers need to maintain a certain distance with their employees to make sure the office has a strong leader in charge; one who can make the difficult decisions, motivate employees to get work done, and be respected.

 

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