When I was ten years ago before NRC Handelsblad started writing about the office and started reading about it, I always thought ‘the lists’ was the stupidest thing. “The 13 Things You Should Never Say To Your Boss,” “The 10 Compliments At Work That Are Actually Insults,” “The 19 Best Excuses At Work,” “7 Facts About Gossiping” — The Web Was Filled With It and I always thought it was the biggest nonsense.
Because everyone is different, every boss is different, every job is different, everyone has different colleagues. So why would you pretend that universal truths exist at work?
Now, all these years later, I have to admit I was wrong. Because if I’ve noticed one thing in all my time writing about work and career, it’s that everyone experiences the same thing, has the same annoyances and shares the same loves.
The love for the coffee machine (with the dirty coffee), the love for colleagues, the hatred for colleagues, the hatred for useless meetings, the aversion to mandatory company outings, the fear of the performance interview, the dread of your salary interview.
If anything I’ve noticed, it’s that basically everyone has the same type of boss, the same printers that don’t work, gets the same useless management hype, uses the same meaningless jargon and gets a head start for it.
That everyone is in the same office park where the windows can’t open, where everyone yawns over the New Year’s speech of the CEO. Where the nice people get too little speaking time and the annoying ones too much, where everyone hears the same thing during job interviews and makes the same mistakes.
Where ‘sales tigers’ appear to be working everywhere who learnings say. New colleagues who suddenly feel themselves grid owner call when no one knows what that is. Or ‘ambition driver’ and ‘domain director’.
The whole office life is full of lists. The things that stink the most in the office. The ways you should never start your business emails. The 5 reasons why folding bicycles should be banned.
And so last year I suddenly thought: what if I collect all those lists in one indispensable list book? What if I myself, with the help of my readers, wrote down the 6 things you shouldn’t do when you’re fired. The 19 best excuses at work. The 10 Compliments That Are Actually Insults. The 11 things you never got into you out of officeemail to put.
What if I myself took stock of the 13 things you should never say to your boss, the 7 facts about gossip at work, the 15 tips to get over your work-from-home slump?
The mission to get them all in one book has failed – I already know that. Because new lists are always needed. And especially longer lists!
Last week it turned out that the title of my book was wrong. The book is called The 19 Things You Should Never Do With Your Coworkers, but when I asked on Twitter what you would never do with colleagues, I turned out to have forgotten quite a few.
Yes, don’t go to the sauna together, many readers wrote, you shouldn’t do that with colleagues, and luckily that’s on the list. But ‘carpooling – then you’re often finished talking’ quickly.
Just like ‘on holiday together – don’t do it!’, ‘spending the night in a tipi’, ‘company outings with solexes’, ‘swimming and other things in bikini or swimming trunks’, ‘cuddle sessions’, ‘to the Red Light District’, ‘everyone with their ‘a children to a terribly obligatory company outing’, ‘a yoga workshop’, ‘biodanza’, ‘chanting mantras’, ‘and all those other things you just don’t want pictures of’ – they are all not (yet) in the book . Well, maybe in the next printing.
What I did succeed, and I notice this every week, is that I have learned more about work in the past ten years than in my entire life before. And laughed more than ever. By you. For your reactions, for your suggestions, for your observations – we are not alone, unfortunately all the lists turn out to be correct.
Which, by the way, not everyone will find! There are always those who know better, who think it’s total nonsense what you’re saying, who experience the exact opposite, who don’t think it’s funny and who smash those things that move you – that’s a law at work too.
And another list, by the way.
This column is based on the introduction to the book ‘The 19 things you should never do with colleagues’ by Japke-d. Bouma. It came out this week at Alphabet Publishers.
The 19 Things You Should Never Do With Coworkers
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