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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Corporate Bragging & Speaking Their Language

"Avoid corporate bragging." I first heard this phrase in Richard Carlson's Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work: Simple Ways to Minimize Stress and Conflict While Bringing Out the Best in Yourself and Others. Tip # 6 is Avoid Corporate Bragging. You can also visit the website Work Stuff Column for weekly updates.

"Corporate bragging is sharing with others how incredibly busy you are and how very hard you work – not just in passing, but rather as a central, focal point of conversation."

Carlson goes on to say that he has "yet to see a single person even slightly interested in hearing about someone else's busyness." I encourage you to find this little book and keep it on your desk. The practicalness of this chapter helps keep me grounded.

You see, teachers are busy. Principals are busy. Cafeteria workers are busy. Custodians are busy (waiting for all of us troublesome people to leave for the summer so they can continue to be busy without interruptions). Parents are busy with families. Students have tremendously full social calendars of "busyness." No one really cares if the librarians are busy with end of year tasks. Our "busyness" does not affect them. Most of them don't even understand the meaning of what we say we are busy doing.

In many ways much of what we do and what we focus upon is not deemed of high value by others either because we speak a different language. We are proud of our language and the terms we learned in graduate school. We are proud that we have that little bit of uniqueness that enables us to stand out among our staff members. If we were to describe our tasks, callings, duties, and motivations in ways teachers could understand them, would we be as unique?

Alexander McCall Smith in Espresso Tales has two characters discussing the name of an Edinburgh establishment which has a sign outside calling itself something entirely different from the name locals used. One character states:

"These are verbal tests, you see…These tests are designed to exclude others from the discourse – just as the word discourse itself is designed to do. These words are intended to say to people: this is a group thing. If you don't understand what we're talking about, you're not a member of the group."

Perhaps we need to find ways to phrase our concerns using the languages of all groups not just the school library media specialist group.

If you have never stumbled across the 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith, I encourage you to check it out (as a grown-up, not for young children!). These novels began as serialized novels (very important in the 19th century with the work of Dickens, Flaubert's Madame Bovary, etc.) which offers it's own unique twist to the writing experience and structure. I suggest you find the author's Preface to 44 Scotland Street to better understand the format and the pacing of each vignette. Perhaps some wonderful children's author will bring back the serialized novel for children. It probably is already happening online so if you know of any appropriate for school-age children, please comment and let us know where this is happening.


  1. Thank you for this. I agree. Also, sometimes the talk of being busy which is (subconsciously?) intended to increase our value, inadvertently discourages people from asking for our help. Much better to keep it light and be sure teachers and students know we are there to help them.