Why I Decorate My Cube (and You Should, Too!)

I've found that I'm one of the few people in my new group at work to put up any personal mementos in my cube.




No, not like that!

But I have added some personal touches to my work space, and I've chosen each one of them carefully and after quite a bit of deliberation.Why?

I'm not the most introverted introvert!


As it turns out, being surrounded by software engineers and IT guys makes me one of the most outgoing people in my area. Me! I have to start conversations, make eye contact first, and say hello if I pass someone in the walkway.

I do try to pick up on people's interests, but so far my methods are limited to eavesdropping on their conversations (which are few and far between) or looking around at their work spaces.

[There is one way in which they are social that I'm completely left out of. They smoke (vape, whatever) and go outside together a few times a day. Since I'm not a smoker, and I don't want to pick it up to gain a social advantage, it would help immensely if my coworkers would decorate their cubicles... even a little.]

My Cubicle

Top Row (L to R) Two postcards from Oregon, a bookmark for the upcoming Wyeth exhibit at the Denver Art Museum, My Red Sox "B", a calendar.
Bottom Row (L to R) Grateful Dead dancing bear button, A skull sticker made by a colleague in Oregon, Ellie's 8th grade picture, Ben's bar mitzvah picture, a postcard from the Impressionist exhibit I attended. recently.

 

Official-looking work papers, Pats 2015 schedule, Gronk!, concert tickets, and a key chain made from one of Ben's paintings. (These are further into my cubicle... if you come in, you see them. If you stand at the door, probably not.

Look at all the things you can learn about me!
  • I have kids, a girl and a boy
  • My daughter wore an AC/DC shirt in her school picture and I still hung it up
  • I like art, and am probably planning on going to the Wyeth show
  • I like baseball and football, and my favorite teams appear to be the Red Sox and Patriots.
  • I'm organized, keep my space neat, I print out calendars and schedules
And there are also things that are designed to elicit questions
  • Skull -- what!?
  • Kid looks like he's having a bar mitzvah -- Jewish?
  • Who's Keller Williams?

It works!

 

Our leadership team visited a few weeks ago. They're from Seattle, Corvallis, Salt Lake City, Palo Alto, and San Diego. They stopped by every person's cubicle to introduce themselves and have a little chat. When one of the execs stopped by mine, he took a look into my cube and said, "Baseball fan?" and we were off and running on a conversation about the upcoming World Series and wasn't it funny how the Back to the Future movie included a reference to my cursed team winning the whole thing...?

Yes, he mixed up the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, and No, I didn't mention his mistake. (Did I mention this was the executive team?)

Hanging up that "B" was an instant conversation starter, and I didn't have the awkward, stilted conversations that my coworkers had as the execs made their rounds. One mentioned how much he liked the lighthouse on one of the postcards, and he also wants to get back to the Oregon coast. Another had seen a similar skull in our Corvallis office and asked about it. [One of my colleagues in Oregon is a graphic artists and the stickers are his side gig.]

Just the other day, one of the women from a couple of aisles down stopped to say hi to my absent cubicle-mate, peeked into my cube and said, "I like your bear." A conversation about live music ensued. It may go nowhere, but the next time I buy tickets for a Dead-similar band, I'll mention it to her.

Plans for Changing it Up

 

Life in a cubicle-farm can isolating, awkward, and soul-sapping. I hope my sparse, thoughtful decorating style catches on with my neighbors. Just in case it doesn't, I'm planning on rotating out some of the items as time goes on, like a carefully curated art exhibition. Leaving the same things up for months destroys the purpose of people noticing them. They'll blend into the background, or people will forget if they've asked about an item already. A few switches and I can avoid that further awkwardness.



I'll be a social maven before you know it!


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