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Office Stereotypes: How To Avoid Judging a Book by Its Cover

If you’ve just started a new job or you’re a recent graduate entering the workforce for the first time, there is one piece of advice you need to heed above all else: people are like books.

How so? Well, like books, people are not just the sum of their exterior but, rather, have hidden qualities on the inside that need to be read and understood before an opinion is formed. Of course, this is easier said than done: whether you’re bypassing someone in the street or chatting with a colleague at the water cooler, it’s human nature to form a judgement within the first three seconds of meeting. However, the savvy individual knows that this instant opinion is subconscious and will do all in their power to take a deeper look.

To illustrate, here are five office stereotypes you may recognise and why you should think twice about judging them by their cover:

1. The ‘Strict’ Boss

Now, many of you might stereotype your boss as a mean and grudging person because of the rules they lay down at work. But, look at who they hired! If your boss is that awful, then you’re practically questioning why he or she gave you the job in the first place (which thus means questioning your fit within the organisation). The boss can’t be ‘chums’ with his or her workforce, so cut them some slack.

2. The IT ‘Geek

There is always that highly intelligent person in IT who you tend to leave alone because they’re a bit on the nerdy side. However, if your computer were to crash five minutes before a deadline, think about who you’d be calling in favours from then? A smile and friendly enquiry into weekend plans does not go amiss.

3. The ‘Dumb’ Intern

Often looked down upon, the intern is stereotyped as being that ‘work experience kid’ who can legitimately run out and buy your lunch and coffee as part of their ‘job’. She might be young and inexperienced, but remember that a simple “thank you” – no matter how junior or unimportant the task – goes a long way. After all, karma is a bitch and when the intern is CEO of a company you want to work for, she will remember how you treated her during her first experience of the workplace.

4. The Office ‘Oldie’

Okay, so maybe he’s a bit past his time, but this poor guy works so hard (and has done for decades) and never gets noticed by you young ones. Look out for this dark horse; with all his experience, he has a wealth of knowledge to impart if you just go and ask. Here’s to the golden oldies!

5. The ‘Ditzy’ Gatekeeper

She’s just a receptionist, right? Sits there reading a magazine and answering a few phone calls every now and then. Wrong! The office receptionist sees it all and interacts with everyone, so she is very often the person called upon by senior staff to provide a ‘general’ opinion. And those important clients you’ve bagged a meeting with? The receptionist will be the first impression they form of your company, so you want her to be on your side. Moreover, she is a master in organisation; you could learn a few tricks if you swallow your pride and ask.

So this is where you decide. Do you want to be that judgemental employee who everyone secretly hates, or would you rather be an irreplaceable member of a team? A successful career requires you to deal with all sorts of people; make the right choice from day one.

And next time you catch someone looking for a new book, why not give them a hand? They may need some help turning the page…

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