Office “Humor”

I’ve always noticed the “humorous” signs that office workers put up. The most noticeable thing about them is that they are invariably snarky.

Many are just plain negative:

  • “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.”
  • “You want it WHEN?” [with guy with big open laughing mouth.]
  •  “Firings will continue until morale improves.”
  •  “Make someone happy today … Mind your own business.”
  • “I only have time to help one person per day, and unfortunately today isn’t your day. Tomorrow isn’t looking too good for you either.”
  • “My cow died. So I don’t need YOUR BULL!”
  • “We shoot every third salesman who walks into this place. The second just left.”

Then there are the negative messages have more of a workplace politics focus:

  • “If you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes.”
  • “Do you want to talk to the man in charge or the woman who knows what’s going on?”
  • “CAUTION, the toes you step on today may be connected to the ass you’re kissing tomorrow.”
  • “Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.”

Finally, there are the relatively good-natured ones:

  • “Bad spellers of the world, untie!”
  • “When all else fails, read the directions.”
  • “A cluttered desk is a sign of genius.”
  • “CAUTION: Messy cubicle. Enter at your own risk.”
  • “I don’t do mornings.”
  • “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.”
  • “Give me coffee and no one gets hurt!”

So what is the significance of such signs? Do they show an employee with a bad attitude? An employee with a lame sense of humor? A passive aggressive employee? An employee who thinks she is a wit?

And what does it say about the manager who allows such signs? That he figures he’ll let employees blow off steam in a harmless way? That she supports free speech? That he thinks the signs are funny? That she too has a lame sense of humor?

I don’t really know the answers to these questions. However, I do think they are a bad idea. Why? Several reasons: First, some employees mean what the signs say and this can cast a pall on customers and co-workers. Yet, if everyone is allowed to have them, it’s hard to stop the one bad apple. Second, they set a bad tone in general. No one needs to blow off steam in this way and the signs can and do offend people. Finally, they make an office look unhappy and unmotivated. Which may be true: but it doesn’t need to be advertised!

To be fair, I also don’t like those motivational signs for offices – you know, the posters with fabulous nature shots and inspirational messages: “Communication: The art if making ideas meet.” Or, “Teamwork: Divides the task and doubles the result.” Or, “Success: There are many paths to the top of the mountain.” Or, in my view, the worst: “Innovation: Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” I find mass-produced inspiration to be patronizing and silly – though at least the signs don’t offend anyone or set a bad tone. And some people do actually find the signs inspiring … if it’s their choice to put them up.

What are your thoughts on office signs? Or am I the only one who thinks about such things?  ~Amy Stephson

One response to “Office “Humor”

  1. quite valuable stuff, overall I imagine this is worthy of a book mark, thanks a lot

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