The voyage of moving towards a useful destination is the most joyful one in the world, says Harish Bhat, author of Office Secrets: 50 Human Truths You Should Absolutely Know. He lists this joy as one of the key reasons behind his love for writing. “If readers find new information, insight or inspiration in my writing, that is a wonderful way in which I can contribute to them,” he adds.
Bhat calls himself an extremely curious person. “I love discovering new things that I had never known before. I love observing people and understanding why they do what they do. I love putting to use the results of my curiosity in so many different and often surprising ways, including in my writing,” he says. From this curiosity about various human facets of the workplace, where one spends several hours every day, was born Office Secrets. Bhat has several years of experience as a business leader. He is currently the brand custodian at Tata Sons and director on the boards of several Tata companies.
The book explores, in a fun way, unconventional office topics such as daydreaming, and provides office-goers real insights which can help them in workplaces. For instance, generosity is a practice many great leaders and managers follow. Disappearing for half-an-hour of “me-time” after a frustrating meeting can help managers bounce back to their productive best. Asking a follow-up question on an ongoing discussion at an appropriate time helps one come across as a good and attentive listener.
At one place, Bhat highlights the many possible use cases of daydreaming. “It is an art which no business school has taught us about. In fact, daydreaming is generally frowned upon, whereas we should be aware of its benefits and how to practice it in a good way,” says Bhat.
Here is an excerpt:
A Harvard University health blog authored by Srini Pillay, a psychiatrist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, points out that letting your mind wander away into nice things, far away from perceived threats, can lift you out of any negative spirals that you may have got into. And then, when you come back into your current reality, you can focus on your work much better because your mind is now feeling far more relaxed and positive. So, if you are experiencing anxiety, if a project is not going well or a meeting has been particularly difficult, try a little daydreaming so that you can return refreshed to tackle the tough issues.
From an Essay to a Book
It was an essay he had written in 2010, called The Cookie Club, that inspired him to work on the book. “This article classified all office-goers based on how exactly they ate cookies in office. No one had ever done this before,” recalls Bhat, adding that he often wonders why he attempted the analysis in the first place. “When I read this piece, I fell in love with my own writing, and the rest of the essays in this book followed as a consequence. Then, I found out that my readers loved these irreverent pieces too, so I kept writing lots of them and eventually they have led to this book,” he says.
Bhat has had many a fun moment while writing the book. “Many of these ‘office secrets’ made me laugh even as I was narrating them. That is the humour-power of our offices. Once you distance yourself a little bit from our overly serious workplaces, you learn to laugh at yourself and at so many everyday office situations which can range from the funny to the absurd,” he says. Nothing can be more enjoyable that that, he remarks.