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HowTo:Write on a Greeting Card
Saying you are a team player and have a record of excellent workplace cooperation is not just some bullshit you have to cook up to pass the interview and get hired. Sometimes, down-trodden, dead-eyed office drones like to pretend they remember what it is like to have feelings, having long since lost them once they joined the spirit-crushing adult work force. Outward expressions of emotion in workplace settings tend to be frowned upon, because the unwritten rule of office interaction is don't do anything that could be misinterpreted harassment. Therefore, the acceptable practice is to have everyone sign a brief, encouraging, but otherwise non-chalant statement on a card.
If you work in a white collar job, try not to get too cute or creative. In the fast-paced, cut-throat corporate world, creativity is something to be exploited, not admired. Oh, the recipient might enjoy your fun sayings, but if you are not going to be the last one to sign the card, this is not a bloody high school year book -- other people are going to read what you wrote. You may lose the respect of your colleagues for colouring outside of the lines. All the day after, you will have to wonder if the subtle, strange glances cast your way are a result of that.
So, what should you write? That depends on the situation.
Work does not stop just because it is your birthday! But if people can write between two to ten words without adversely affecting their productivity, they can sign your card. The person who brings it to your desk will probably stay in your office, cubicle, or bull-pen vicinity and watch you like a hawk. If you take longer than the requisite ten seconds to write something on the card, it could yield criticisms of everything from your ability to think on your feet, to your ability to be sincere, and you had better believe it will be spoken of poorly at the water cooler and on coffee breaks.
There are several pre-determined responses which you can safely write, and quickly, which will not affect how well you stand out. Remember: in the corporate world, you want to stand out, but not in a bad way, but also not in an overly good one -- no one likes a show-off.
- "Happy Birthday, _____"
- "Have a wonderful day"
- "Many happy returns"
- "Wishing you well"
See how perfectly restrained these are? All fairly empty, non-committal statements. Also, note the lack of exclamation marks: expressing excitement, even in written form, raises eyebrows in the grim, suppressive, fluoro-lit offices of the world. Short of being granted a chance to climb the corporate ladder, there should be nothing worth getting excited about in such environs, and certainly nothing worth writing about.
Please refer to the diagram, too; workplaces value organization, so in the miliseconds you have to glance over other peoples' contributions to the card, try to take note of any repetition. If there are already three "Happy birthdays" and only one "Many happy returns", then like a good little worker bee, it is up to you to make balance and add another "Many happy returns." Add one too many of an already-used comment, and people might think you are just signing the card out of crass automatism simply because it would be socially unacceptable not to -- even if that is the reason, you cannot let people know that! Whether you know the card's recipient or not, just play along.
(Diagram showing card comments for balance purposes)
- ↑ Evidently just looking at someone can be harassment, these days.