Locker Room Culture and Conformity in Office


Finally I finished this piece on locker room culture last weekend, which I planned to get done the weekend before last.

Donald Trump’s widely publicized ‘Locker-Room Talk’ is at best a sign of adolescence immaturity; at worst, you can say whatever you want. Your imagination is the limit. No comment. The term itself pushes to the front what I experienced when I first started my current position back in 2007.

Urban dictionary has this definition — “The crude, vulgar, offensive and often sexual trade of comments guys pass to each other, usually in high school locker rooms. Exists solely for the purpose of male comedy and is not meant to be taken seriously.” Don’t take me wrong here. Urban dictionary’s definition is too narrow. My office is not like this. Because it is both different and much more than that.

People called that office room a big closet because it doesn’t have a window. Once the door is closed, people who are kindred spirits would say whatever they had in mind without any moral scruples, nor any qualms of conscience. One lady almost never spews out one sentence without her favorite ingredient, the f word. See the similarity here? Except they are not people of high school age and not boys. These are people who are old enough to be grandmas.

Trump’s locker room talk makes me wonder why people are succumbed to this kind of behavior. I refuse to believe that people are as mean spirited as their words betray them. I would attribute this to two factors: the locker room culture of that office and the desire to belong.

Each company, each office has developed and cultivated its own subculture, some energizing, some energy-draining, some with can-do spirit, some filled with whining and complaints. The one I was first exposed to in 2007 was certainly not a healthy one. You could even see negativity flowing in the air.

Because nobody wants to be marginalized in a subculture, not even me who already stands out in a crowd as a foreign-minority, people make great efforts to conform to the subculture by trying not to appear different from others. Plus, consider this key fact that I have come to appreciate: America is not the land of independent thinkers. Instead, the pressure to conform is the rule of the land.

Thought for the leaders: make every effort to cultivate positive culture. The herd will follow.

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