“The Rules of the Workplace”: My Office Space Bible


Again, observing the lovely social media tradition of Flashback Friday (#FBF), I’d like to recall a situation from a few weeks ago when I was packing for my move from Arlington to Washington, DC. As I was bemoaning how much I wish I wasn’t such a hoarder, I picked up a book I had not set eyes on in a couple years. This book is called “The Rules of Workplace: The Unspoken Truth About Getting Ahead in Business” by Richard Templar or as I like to call it “The Workplace Bible/The Workplace Holy Grail.”

Even though I haven’t revisited this book in a while, I still can vividly remember the things I learned from this title. I first read this book as part of a class I was taking that was included with an internship I was completing in college. However, years later I have found the same rules apply even though so much has changed since then (i.e. recessions, shutdowns, advent of social media). I appreciate the timelessness of Templar’s writing. Like a good pair of Chucks; it never goes out of style.

“The Rules of Work” breaks downs the dos and don’ts of the workplace in ten sections each containing ten rules.  Templar calls readers who accept his challenge of following these rules, “Rules Players,” with a value proposition for these folks including:

  • Get promoted
  • Get along better with your colleges
  • Feel better about yourself
  • Enjoy your work more
  • Understand your job better
  • Understand your boss’s point of view better
  • Be valued and respected
  • Be successful if you leave to start your own business

I’d like to share my top 10 rules and main takeaways I took away from this book. The titles of the sections these rules belong to are quite blunt and attention grabbing but I don’t want to give too much away. However, below are my favorite rules I bear in mind when at my place of work (with some of my subtle commentary included):

#5: Underpromise and Overdeliver: Seems there’s some overlap between Poker and the workplace. To show one’s hand or not; that is the question.

#9: Never Let Anyone Know How Hard Your Work: Shhhhh…I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.

#11: Dress Well: You know what they say, clothes make the (wo)man.

#13: No Limp Fish-Develop the Perfect Handshake: Might want to put that stress ball to good use by bulking up that hand strength.

#20: Write Well: Hmmm, I think I’ll write this one down for sure.

#29: Anticipate Threats: My mind always harkens back to Spencer Johnson’s infamous title, “Who Moved My Cheese” when I think about this rule.

#31: Don’t Gossip: Work shouldn’t be a scene from Mean Girls or an episode of The View.

#37: Use “Please and “Thank You”: I’m pretty sure these are words all of us learned in pre-school or kindergarten.

#38: Don’t Curse: Unless you work on a pirate ship, then definitely use curse words.

#46: Keep Records: Nothing like a good paper trail to help you accomplish something that needs a little tangible evidence.

#72: Don’t Take Sides: Might be worth looking into the history of Switzerland on this one.

Besides these, there are 90 more rules included in Templar’s workplace bible one can check out. Of course as with any best practices piece, it is easier said than done to keep in step with someone’s recommendations. Additionally, upon further research I found out that a new edition of this 2005 publication was released in 2014 that includes eight more Templar rules. I’m guessing these might include some new media and email best practices.

However if you think these rules were made to be broken or would like to share your thoughts on this book, please share a comment below and tell GovLoop your thoughts.

Ryan Rosado is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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