The now retired NBC sitcom “The Office” had a comedic approach on situations at work. But we all loved it because it drew caricatures of people we actually work with. It was funny, sure, but there’s also a real world implication. Let’s look at what Dwight and Jim taught us about good character at work.
Dwight Schrute – The Brown Noser
First we have Dwight Schrute, The Office “brown noser-know-it-all-weirdo”. His rather intrusive personality reminds us of those extremists we have to work with. Why do people hate Dwight so much?
Elements of Dwight’s Character
He has no tact and does not respond to social queues.
He has to win in every SINGLE petty battle. His ego is the first thing that needs affection. Everything else has to come after Dwight’s ego.
He will throw you under the bus for a few extra points with management.
Dwight is an example of the co-worker you do not want in the office. He’s also someone who views himself as beyond reproach. Yet his character is lacking key elements like humility, selflessness, and ownership of his mistakes.
Jim Halpert – The Good Guy
Now, lets look at his arch nemesis, Jim Halpert. Jim is the guy you want to invite over on the weekend to barbecue with in the summertime. He’s an honest friend, not somebody you have to worry about stabbing you in the back. His laid back personality is the perfect fit for coworker and friend. He listens to honest suggestions and is open minded and kind.
Elements of Jim’s Character
He values you. Not the boss’s love, not affection from Michael; he values your contribution to the team.
He has a sense of humor. If you play a minor prank or joke around on him, his easy-going personality will be receptive to it even if he’s had a bad day.
He is completely non-intrusive and yet, very intelligent. Dwight does not have a problem with confidence, but in the long run his arrogance proves he knows nothing. Jim is intelligent, but he doesn’t have to run around and flaunt it all the time.
People like and see “the real Jim”. He doesn’t try to be a people pleaser, he is who he is.
What is Good Character?
On paper, Dwight might look like he has all the elements of good character. He’s loyal to his boss, he works hard, and he says it like it is. In real life he’s loyal to his boss to further himself (and he’s not afraid to sabotage his co-workers to do it). He works hard to show others up and he’s merciless and insulting.
What are your motives at work? Having good character doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat. It does mean that you should care about the people around you. It means you shouldn’t shaft other people so you can get ahead.
Take a note from Jim and care about people. Don’t focus only on yourself.