Monday, 22 February 2010

On Professionalism vs. Office Banter

[This is a derelict building I walk past every day on my way to work. I really like it, and think the graffitti adds to it rather than detracts from it. I would like to make this my house.]

Today at work I achieved a goal. I entered into office banter with people from five different countries. I found a kindred spirit in Norway, Portugal, Holland, Spain and...Basingstoke. I say banter - but this is a broad term. Basically, so many of the emails I send and receive sound like they have been written by machines so every now and then I like to throw a little nicety in to see if I am actually emailing a robot, or whether there's a real live person at the other end. As such, my special definition of banter is basically anything that deviates from the standard, boring, no frills emails we churn out to eachother.

Now, I was really quite chuffed with this influx of people nibbling at my conversational bait - some of my colleagues, however, weren't. I do understand the need for professionalism, honestly I do. I would never dream of subjecting colleagues to the four-letter rants my friends are familiar with (although I have been tempted). I wouldn't drink at work (unless everyone else was). In fact, I'm a pretty professional person. But at the same time I can't talk to people day in day out without trying to get to know them. I think it makes for a better working relationship if anything, and said so when I was told that I should be more interested in my job rather than what S in Holland did last night and who she was rooting for in the Winter Olympics. Oops. Perhaps they are right - my job isn't a social networking opportunity. However I still don't see why the odd banterful email should be frowned upon, especially when my Sent Items folder is full to bursting with boring, robot-speak emails.

So sod them I say. I will continue to ask what people do at the weekend, or how they celebrated Chinese New Year. I won't give up trying to find out what exactly R in Norway does with the wild boar on his farm. I will relish every weather update I get from Lisbon, and join in with Spain's post-siesta jests. I will do my job, but I don't see why I should be miserable while doing it. I'm taking the banter, and spreading it worldwide.


  1. Get rid of professionalism! Half of my clients call me "Hammie"...


  2. I dread to think what my lot call me...

    Thank you for your kind words of support - it's good to know I'm not alone in struggling to maintain a professional dignity at work.