Monday, September 15, 2008

Spare us those motivational seminars

I am old enough to remember the days when you went to work to, well, simply work. I was in my mid-50s, I think, when I first heard the term "office culture" - a term that, surely, defies definition. Of course, every office has its bright spark and, occasionally, its professional grump, but does it ever have any sort of pervasive atmosphere, common ethos or "integrated pattern of human behavior" (to quote from Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary) that can somehow be molded, or redirected, by means of pep talks by "motivational experts"?

To my mind, few things are more exasperating than being dragged away from one's work to attend a "motivational seminar", which is invariably given by someone who has little or no knowledge of one's industry or employment conditions. It's also degrading and demoralising to be lectured in this way, as though one were 15 again and back in a school class.

I say all this after reading that 67-year-old American psychologist Stephen Lundin - one of those "North American toilet trainers" (in the words of David Lange) - is in the country to pitch "a power-of-positive-thinking attitude" in the workplace. I just hope the author of Fish! doesn't show up in my office, which is not a Seattle fish market - and does not, as far as I am concerned, need any journalistic counterparts of Lundin's animated fish mongers. Let's do our work quietly, thoroughly and with the dignity of adults.


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