In 2005, NBC introduced a mockumentary comedy that focused on the Dunder Mifflin paper company and documented their everyday experiences. The show depicted the combination of different personalities, egos, and juvenile behavior that occurred during a typical workday in their work environment. Based on the successful BBC series, The Office quickly became an instant hit for the network. Make that a monster, instant hit. It’s over-the-top comedy and outrageous larger-than-life characters like Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute totally resonated with viewers looking for a little escape from the grind of their own office jobs.
With Steve Carell leading the pack as the hilariously immature boss, Michael Scott, The Office provided audiences with belly-aching laughs during its half-hour run time. While the show illustrated an overly-exaggerated work environment, the situations that the employees of Dunder Mifflin faced on a daily basis provided great entertainment. The goal of the show may have been to inflict laughs and a good time, but it also provided the audience with learning experiences that in this day and age have been ignored by many.
The Office showcased many life lessons that are relatable to everyday life situations. By incorporating these underlying themes, the show demonstrated that it was more than just fun and games. Overshadowed by the comedy, the lessons were easily overlooked by fans. So in case you didn’t catch them, we have watched hundreds of hours of The Office (a hardship, we know) and here are the 15 life lessons that The Office taught us.
15. The Best “That’s What She Said” Opportunities
All fans of The Office know that Michael Scott was the king of “that’s what she said” jokes. He never skipped a beat when saying his infamous line whenever the opportunity presented its self. In fact, Michael would speak that phrase during times when it wasn’t appropriate to do so. But that aided to the overall appeal of the hilarious joke. While it was said during times when it wasn’t needed, the pure joy that Michael obviously felt in those moments was worth the awkwardness and look of disgust expressed by surrounding characters. Nonetheless, this particular expression never lost its effect as the show went on. Its popularity was apparent due to the fact that fans caught on and would drop the line whenever they deemed it necessary. It works best when said following an innuendo, but Michael proved that the best “that’s what she said” opportunities are those dropped whenever one is feeling it.
14. Laughing Is The Best Medicine
With Michael Scott as the boss, there was never a serious moment in and outside of the office. While he wasn’t sure what he was doing the majority of the time, he did know how to have a good time. One thing for certain, Michael never hesitated when making a joke. He lived by the notion that, “There’s no such thing as an appropriate joke. That’s why it’s called a joke.” Unlike most bosses, Michael was far from uptight and always remembered to laugh. If there is one thing to learn from the Scranton boss, it is to always find an opportunity to laugh. There were more than enough opportunities to laugh and have a good time while working at Dunder Mifflin. Between Jim and Dwight’s pranks and Michael’s “that’s what she said” jokes, The Office proved that laughing is by far the cure for anything.
13. You Don’t Always Have To Know It All
In all honesty, Kevin Malone was Dunder Mifflin’s least intelligent employee. The accountant was a lovable character with his childish sense of humor, but clearly wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Rather than wanting to work, Kevin would prefer to just sit on the beach eating hot dogs. While he often wore a confused expression, he was a valuable Scranton employee. Much like Kevin, Michael isn’t one that always knew what he was doing. As far as being boss, he excelled despite not being an ideal boss. Most bosses had control over their office, but that wasn’t the case for Michael. He didn’t possess the qualities of a boss and didn’t always make the best decisions, but he clearly respected and admired his employees. To him, they weren’t just employees- they were his friends. And in the end, that was more important than knowing how to lead an office. He colored outside the lines as a boss, but he was still able to run a successful Dunder Mifflin branch.
12. It’s Okay To Make Fun Of Yourself
Michael Scott was never one to shy away from being the butt of a joke. While the majority of the time he was the one dishing out hilarious riddles, he wasn’t afraid to have the tables turned on him. In season five, the Dunder Mifflin boss realized that he was causing one of his employees, Stanley, stress following his heart attack. In order to relieve the tension that he created in the office, he decided to throw a roast party and allowed each of his employees to make fun of him. The Scranton branch bunch didn’t hesitate to take the opportunity to give Michael a taste of his own medicine. In true Michael fashion, he took the roast in great stride. This particular episode and other situations throughout the series illustrated that it’s okay to not take things so seriously and poke fun at yourself. Michael was always true to himself and never let peoples’ opinions of him bring him down. His confidence and ability to not take himself so seriously was an important life lesson that he taught fans.
11. Never Be Afraid To Stand Up For What You Believe In
Michael Scott believed Dunder Mifflin was the greatest company in the world. No seriously, he really believed in the paper supplying corporation. When Dunder Mifflin was facing its inevitable end and legal issues, it was Michael who wasn’t afraid to stand up for the company. Accompanied by a few of his employees to a shareholder meeting in New York, Michael is appalled to witness the executives of Dunder Mifflin being booed onstage and to learn that the company has no plan of getting back on track as it quickly heads for bankruptcy. Not willing to throw in the towel, Michael addresses the audience and declares that they have a plan to rebuild the company. Despite his best efforts, his eagerness to save Dunder Mifflin is ignored. Michael may not have received the results he intended, but his passion for the company showed that standing up for something that you believe in is a powerful characteristic that not many people possess. The board members of the company may not have believed in the business enough to save it, but Michael did and he wasn’t willing to back into a corner and unwillingly agree to their negativity.
10. All Work Environments Should Be Fun
The Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin may not have been the most successful business, but it did succeed in having the most fun. Workplace environments typically hold the stigma of being stuffy and uptight, but that was far from the truth on The Office. There was never a dull moment during the day with the array of personalities working in the Pennsylvania office. From Halloween parties to ping pong tournaments, Dunder Mifflin proved that fun should be incorporated into the corporate atmosphere. In fact, one day the men decided to neglect work for the day and participate in Parkour activities throughout the entire building. Between the pranks and the hijinks, The Office proved that all work environments should be as enjoyable as Dunder Mifflin. Working a 9 to 5 cliché office job just becomes monotonous over time, but sprinkling in amusing events during the day is sure to improve the overall atmosphere.
9. Identity Theft Is Real
There was never a dull moment at the Scranton Dunder Mifflin office. The back and forth hijinks between Jim Halpert and Dwight Schrute was the source of many laughs. While the two co-workers got a thrill out of pranking one another, it was clear to see they had respect for one another. One of Jim’s best works was when he came to work dressed exactly like Dwight. At first Dwight assumed it was a form of flattery but then quickly changed his mind as it escalated. Not a fan of being mocked, Dwight was less than pleased with Jim’s antics and scolded him on the fact that identity theft was not a joke. In the moment, that was quite the comedic scene. However, all joking aside, Dwight did make a valid point. While the prank was all in good fun, Dwight unknowingly addressed a serious situation. However, it was overshadowed by the entertainment occurring between the two paper salesmen.
8. The Importance Of Friendship
With the mixture of different personalities comprising the Dunder Mifflin office, it appeared at times that the co-workers would be constantly annoyed with one another. While there were plenty of opportunities for Dwight and Michael to irritate the entire office with their ridiculous ploys, at the end of the day the Scranton branch was a family. Whether they liked it or not, that’s what they were. There were times when Pam was exasperated with her boss Michael; especially when he dated her mother behind her back. But those moments didn’t hinder their relationship because when they needed each other, they were there offering one another support. When Pam invited the entire office to her art show, Michael was the only one to show up and encourage her work as an artist because he knew how much it meant to her. Dwight and Jim lived to one up another in regard to annoying one another with their pranks, but when Jim surprised Dwight on his wedding day by inviting Michael, it was clear that the two former dueling co-workers were more friends than they realized. The Office depicted the importance of being there for your friends when they really need you.
7. An Underdog Will Always Rise
During the third season, The Office created the opportunity for a promotion for one of the Scranton branch employees to take over Jan’s former position. Looking to move on from sales, Andy, Karen, and Jim all interviewed for the job. While the three employees were strong applicants, they were blindsided to learn that the Dunder Mifflin temp, Ryan, was offered the job instead. Ryan may have started off in an entry level position with the company and was young in comparison to his co-workers, but his qualifications for the job with his MBA proved that he was better suited. The entire office was shocked to learn of Ryan’s promotion because they failed to view him as competition because of his lack of experience. This was a learning opportunity for not only the Dunder Mifflin employees, but for the viewers as well. It’s easy to get kicked off your high horse when you fail to appreciate those surrounding you. Underestimating people will only bring you down once it’s realized that they were more of a competition than originally thought. One thing for sure, an underdog will always rise from the ashes.
6. Fire Safety Is Important
Dwight Schrute never missed an opportunity to prove to his Dunder Mifflin co-workers that he possessed greater intellectual skills. His quirky demonstrations never failed to irritate his peers and the day that he decided to teach them all about fire safety took the cake. Believing that the company’s fire drill policy was incorrect, he decided to take matters into his own hands and stage a faux fire in the office without the knowledge of the Scranton employees. He locked doors and blow-torched door handles to give authenticity to the drill. The Dunder Mifflin office erupted into complete madness as the co-workers tried to escape the building to safety. Cats were thrown up into ceiling vents (yes, you read that correctly) and poor Stanley experienced a heart attack. Needless to say, Dwight’s associates were less than thrilled to discover that he was the reason for creating the chaos. While Dwight had decent intentions to teach the office the best protocol during a fire, he went about the situation all wrong. But, he proved that fire safety is important for everyone to know. Sometimes “Stop, drop, and roll” just doesn’t cover it.
5. Never Mix Business With Pleasure
It’s no secret that even in the real world there is a reputation for inter-office relationships. In fact, most companies forbid romance in the workplace. However, at Dunder Mifflin, there wasn’t a lot of structure. While Pam and Jim were flirty around their inevitable coupling, Kelly Kapoor set her sights on the new office temp, Ryan Howard. The customer service representative didn’t really give Ryan a chance to object to a relationship; she demanded it. She wasn’t shy about expressing her plans to marry and have his children. Their relationship was clearly uneven and Ryan was suffocated by Kelly’s bubbly personality and need to constantly talk. Despite being opposed to the relationship at first and Kelly’s stage-five clinging tactics, the two entered into a rocky relationship.
However, their unhealthy romance eventually came to end after Ryan accepted a promotion transitioning him to work at Dunder Mifflin’s headquarters. Needless to say, Kelly didn’t take the breakup well. When Ryan returned to the Scranton branch, the office became extremely uncomfortable with Kelly’s obvious grudge against her former boyfriend. Their bickering during office hours and her new relationship with fellow co-worker Darryl made things awkward. While their disastrous relationship clearly held humor that aided to the show’s plot, their immature behavior would never be accepted in a real work environment.
4. Always Have A Backup Plan
No matter how much we wish things would go according to plan, life has its way of throwing a few curveballs into the mix. Establishing backup plans are a fundamental component to every plan; if at first you fail, try again. Pam and Jim knew that creating a backup plan for their wedding was going to be the only thing to save them on their happy day. Inviting the whole Scranton Dunder Mifflin office was bound to produce some unexpected moments from their quirky co-workers. Knowing their friends weren’t going to let the day occur without having some fun, the couple was secretly married on the Maid of the Mist of Niagara Falls. The newlyweds returned to the church just in time to witness their co-workers making a scene by dancing up and down the aisle. Having a backup plan allowed the couple to peacefully exchange vows before joining their motley crew for a more outgoing wedding experience. In the end, Pam and Jim were finally married and their friends were able to be themselves. When in doubt, plan it out.
3. Never Give Up On Your Dreams
One of the most important life lessons that The Office brought us was to never give up on your dreams. No matter how much time has passed, a dream is always achievable if you give it your best shot. Pam Beesly never had the ambition to be a full-time receptionist. Rather, she had the passion to pursue her talents as an artist. However, life got in the way of her goals and she ended up working at Dunder Mifflin. After joining her boss Michael at a high school career fair in hopes of seeking out summer interns, the receptionist was inspired to give her art a try. After being accepted to the Pratt Institute, she moved to New York City in order to take classes. It didn’t matter to Pam that she was years behind achieving her dream to be an artist because she knew that there isn’t a deadline on a dream. During the ninth season, Pam revealed her mural of her fellow Scranton co-workers. She had painted it on the side of the Dunder Mifflin building to showcase her artistic abilities.
2. Create Your Own Opportunities
Let’s face it, the pressures of work and everyday life can really take their toll on personal confidence. While Michael Scott clearly danced to the beat of his own drum, he experienced a time when he had to take life by the horns and create an opportunity for him to prove his capabilities. When the head office of Dunder Mifflin began to overwhelm the Scranton branch boss, he decided to create his own paper company with the ultimate goal to take over Dunder Mifflin’s current clients. Appropriately named the Michael Scott Paper Company, Michael hired Pam and Ryan to join his new venture. The trio gave the new business their best shot and had some impressive moments, but in the end the company didn’t last long. Luckily, the three former entrepreneurs were given their jobs back by Dunder Mifflin. But when they did return to work, they walked through the door with an extra spring in their step. Their short amount of time running their own project and being spontaneous provided them with the belief that they could accomplish anything they set their minds to. Everyone has the power to create their own opportunities and shouldn’t let their fears hinder their attempt of discovering what they are made of.
1. You Can Escape The Friend zone
From the very start it was extremely evident that Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly had chemistry that exceeded the bounds of friendship. However, Pam was engaged to her longtime boyfriend Roy, which led to Jim waiting in the wings. We all know that the friend zone is the last place that anyone wants to be, but even though Pam was spoken for, the Dunder Mifflin co-workers couldn’t deny their attraction. Eventually Pam called off her wedding to Roy after realizing that her heart veered off course, heading straight towards Jim. While the two former friends navigated their way through their new relationship, they had to overcome a few obstacles. Despite the long journey they encountered on the way to their own “happily ever after,” they married and had two children together. The relationship may only be fictional for entertainment purposes, but it did send the message that the friend zone doesn’t always mean taking up a permanent residence on the sideline. Love is all about timing and like Jim mentioned during his wedding rehearsal speech, despite having to sit back and wait he knew that he was waiting for his wife.
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