By Syed Neaz Ahmad:
The red rose in your jacket button-hole makes a valid statement about your personality, your mood, and your inclinations – and this may have nothing to do with the Valentine Day. How we dress, part our hair, choose our friends (and enemies), eat our food and frequent a particular restaurant all tell a lot – sometimes more than what we would like others to know about ourselves. Now behavioural psychologists have investigated a new area that reveals hidden secrets – your office desk.
Barack Obama’s predecessor George Bush was once known as the “most powerful man” in the world – for waging wars – but judging by the family photographs behind his desk – said reports that he was an ideal candidate to make tea (well, coffee) in the White House. What is more, opponents of his hard stance on “defence”, “offence” and “global warming” were shocked to learn that his Oval Office workplace reflected that he is full of the milk of human kindness: more than willing to offer his shoulder to cry on. With thousands killed in his adventures overseas – many think that his shoulder would need to work overtime. But that’s a different story.
GWB, researchers – no, not the ones who helped him write his book – suggest is a “Tea and sympathy type”, his compassionate side betrayed by the family snaps, coupled with the tidiness of his desk. All that is needed to perfect a sympathetic image is a collection of cuddly toys – a common trait among the more fundamental of this tribe.
Corporate psychologists Ben Williams claims “hidden messages” broadcast by tidiness, clutter and contents of your desktop reveal the truth behind your personality, and that office workers can be split into five “tribal” groups.
“It is inevitable items on work stations and the way they are arranged will reflect the person’s character and way of working,” says Williams. “Usually arrangements are an unconscious decision, unlike the clothes a person might wear or car he drives, which tend to be chosen deliberately to convey a certain image.” So a person’s desk sends out very truthful messages about his/her character.
Keys, hand-bags, wallets, mobile phones and other personal possessions on the desk highlight that you are a person of trusting nature. You and others of “the tribe” wouldn’t mind loaning out money and going out of way to help others.
The “mother-figure-searcher”, the office loner, is likely to have a neat but not very tidy workstation, tucked away in a far and secluded corner – devoid of personal belongings. However, under their desk they “keep” a mine of toothpicks and used facial tissues. They are the ones who have little interaction with others, complain about their work and are critical of everybody and everything. To avoid a “fatal attraction”, the researchers suggest that these social misfits must be avoided at all costs.
The report says hat “creative wanabees” will have their desks littered with random documents, trinkets and photos in no particular order. Great with new ideas they roam the office in search of simulation.
Ben Williams says that these are not to be confused with “quitters” whose desks, quivering under the weight of files and paper, sit alongside overstuffed filing cabinets. According to the research they may be contemplating resignation, and may moan consistently about being overworked – but only to the cleaners who have become their friends during the regular late nights in the office – struggling with the mountain of workload!
Where does this analysis leave those who are engaged in the noble profession of teaching and battle every semester with heavier, lengthier and more time-consuming work-load – not forgetting the journalists who start late and finish late and miss the opportunity of chatting up the cleaners who come early.
Our workstations are not just full of papers and desk decorations – sometimes the desk is hardly visible. To find what you are looking for is not only difficult but sometimes it can impossible. Are we trying to make a statement there? I don’t know but I remember a sticker in a colleague’s office: Don’t panic, it’s somewhere here!