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Posted by Tim Bryce on August 2, 2018


– On our impressions and productivity.

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Personal Appearance

Your appearance says a lot about how you regard others. Someone who is well dressed and groomed will command more respect than someone who is not. Today, tattoos, body piercings and facial hair are very popular among younger people. Regardless of your attitude towards them, there are still many prejudices against them in the corporate world. Understand this, the higher you go up in the corporate ladder, the more you become a visible symbol of the company you represent. If your physical appearance doesn’t convey the right image, you won’t be going anywhere. So, if you happen to like that new nose ring you put in, don’t expect that big job promotion anytime soon. Like it or not, if you’ve got body art, do yourself a favor and keep it under cover. The same is true in regards to unkempt hair, facial or otherwise. If you’re going to wear it, at least keep it neat and trimmed.

If you have to wear a tie to work, make sure it is contemporary as well as conservative. Learn to tie a decent knot (people tend to giggle at clip-ons) and the length is somewhat important. For example, a tie resting well above your belt buckle implies inadequacies in the individual, and a tie resting below the belt buckle implies someone prone to excess. The tip of the end of the tie should rest on the top of the belt buckle.

One last thing in terms of dress, “business casual” certainly does not include wearing T-shirts, jeans, shorts, gym shoes or sandals. If you clean up your appearance you will be surprised how people treat you.

Office Appearance

Your desk and office space says a lot about your character. Because of this, you should make an effort to keep your physical surroundings as clean and up-to-date as possible. As an example, the military typically operates under a philosophy whereby you either work on something, store it away, or dispose of it. This forces people to be organized. There are those who would argue “A cluttered desk is the sign of a brilliant mind.” Nothing could be further from the truth. A cluttered desk represents laziness and disorganization. People, particularly customers, prefer an orderly workplace. Think about it next time you go to a grocery store.

The point is, our physical surroundings affect our attitudes towards work. For example, I know of a small print shop with a manager who insists on keeping it spotless. Their paper products are packaged and shipped promptly, inventory is well stocked and maintained, waste is disposed of immediately, and the machines are routinely cleaned and kept in pristine form. Further, the printers are dressed in uniform jumpsuits to keep ink and chemicals from soiling their clothes underneath. Contrast this with the typical print shop that is often cluttered with debris and the machines are infrequently cleaned. The printers of the “clean” shop have a much more positive and professional attitude regarding their work than other printers working in “dirty” shops. Further, absenteeism is not a problem in the “clean” shop and the printers are proud of the products they produce. Basically, they see their workplace as an extension of their home and treat it as such.

As a footnote, I asked the manager of the print shop why his printers kept the facility so clean when others were so dirty. He jokingly confided in me, “They don’t know any better.” In reality, the manager had set operating standards and routinely inspected the premises to assure they were adhered to. Over time, it became a natural part of the print shop’s culture and now he rarely has to inspect them.

Just remember, the appearance you elect to project sends subliminal messages to those around you who will treat you accordingly.

First published: September 24, 2007

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

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Copyright © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Posted by Tim Bryce on September 11, 2009

I have been a fan of NBC’s popular sitcom “The Office” for quite some time. More than anything, the secret to the show’s success is its ability to develop a humorous parody of true life office situations, such as boring meetings, an irrational boss, office politics, competition, even romance. One of the areas the writers work on is humor in the work place. Two situations in particular come to mind: Michael Scott’s (the boss) inane ability to tell jokes to his staff, which nobody appreciates, and Jim Halpert’s barrage of practical jokes on his nemesis at work, Dwight Schrute (moving Dwight’s desk into the men’s room was my personal favorite).

In Scott’s case, as manager he simply wants to lighten things up in the workplace. Although he genuinely believes he is being witty, he is oblivious to the fact his delivery is not only bad, but his comments are embarrassingly crude and politically incorrect. Although he has the best intentions, his staff is simply shocked by what comes out of his mouth. In other words, instead of easing the tensions in the office, he compounds it.

In Halpert’s case, there is considerable tension between Schrute and himself, but because of Dwight’s offbeat persona, he makes an easy target for Jim who gets satisfaction watching his foil react to his pranks. This greatly relieves the stress of work, at least for Jim and Pam. However, Jim can become distraught if his practical jokes backfire.

The lesson from both scenarios is there is a fine line between adding levity to the workplace and making matters worse.

There is a trend in management today to promote humor in the workplace in the hopes it will relieve the tedium of work. Although this sounds all well and good, there are also pitfalls. First, not everyone shares the same sense of humor. What one person considers funny may be considered obnoxious or distasteful to another. Second, it is very easy to go over the line and tell a politically incorrect joke, thereby paving the way for a reprimand or, even worse, a lawsuit to be filed against the person, the company, or both.

Sarcasm is perhaps the most common form of humor found in the workplace, but this can get old quickly if done excessively and perceived in a negative context. Imitations of people can be comical, but it also reveals your true feelings about someone, plus, if your target finds out about it, you might earn their wrath or turn a friend into an enemy. To me, imitations of people in the office are the first hint that someone has their foot on a banana peel.

Practical jokes are still around, but not to the degree as exemplified in “The Office.” The biggest danger here is if the joke is manifested in front of a prospective or existing customer, thereby affecting business. Company newbies, particularly recent college graduates, beware: be wary of sophomoric hijinks in the workplace. Humor in the office is vastly different than what you experienced in college.

Is there room for humor in the workplace anymore? Yes, the prime intent is to relieve stress, engage the brain, and reinvigorate your coworkers. You should be cognizant though of the fine line between silliness and getting in the way of accomplishing productive work. Like any comedian, you should know your audience and tailor your humor accordingly. No, we no longer live in an era where crude jokes can be openly told in the workplace. We must be careful not to offend, but aside from this, there is nothing wrong with a little levity to liven things up.

And for God’s sake, don’t try some of Jim’s practical jokes at work.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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