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The Reality of Office Life
on 2 April 2010
For someone starting out on their career, wishing to move up the corporate ladder or seeking to clarify their attitude to work I recommend this book as a simple, but slightly flawed, overview of the typical office temperament and politics. The book contains 108 rules, all presented in a succinct, neat and very readable format. Some of the rules and Templar's anecdotes are quite interesting and/or funny, which, when combined with his friendly style, make this very readable.
How much you get out of this book will depend on your level of experience, desire for conformity in your working attitude and the type of job that you do. The rules primarily describe an ideal (in Templar's mind), ambitious (but affable), highly competent (but smarmy) white collar office worker or manager, although most are general enough to be applicable to other professions. They give (sometimes obvious) advice on how to: stand out from the crowd (for the right reasons), act up for promotion, deal with other people, present yourself, organize effectively, know your corporation etc.
The depth of advice, although comprehensive, is fairly basic, but is at the right level for a book of this type. Any more analytical and both readability and practicality would suffer. Some of the rules seemingly contradict and overlap, which Templar seems to just ignore. However these areas of ambiguity can be easily spotted and resolved as the reader sees fit.
Also, there is a slight underlying feeling of disingenuousness with some of the rules, especially with those that advocate being nice. Although sincerity does get a mention, it's only briefly and after a long paragraph detailing the material advantages of this attitude. There is a part titled "If you can't say anything nice - shut up" which, when combined with his references to other workers as "worker ants" and other derogatory terms equals smarminess in my mind.
Anyway, the above criticisms are a relatively small aspect of the whole, nearly all of the rules are sensible and affable; the reader can adjust what he doesn't like at his own discretion using his personal experience. Also, as a description of the reality of typical office life this book is pretty much spot on and following these rules will definitely help you to work the system. However it will only give you the "edge in everything you do, without having to compromise your principles" if your principles don't include not being smarmy.