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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Office: Why Michael Scott is Actually the World's Best Boss

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People say I am the best boss.”

The starting premise of The Office is that Michael Scott

is pretty much the worst boss ever.

Hes incompetent, inappropriate, and downright offensive,

with the attention span of a toddler and a feeble grasp on reality.

Yet, shockingly, Michaels tactics produce consistently strong returns

for the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

Utica, Albany, all the other branches are struggling...

but your branch is reporting strong numbers.

Look, you're not our most traditional guy,

but clearly something you are right.”

Michael doesnt even actually know the secret to his success.

David, here it is.

Don't ever, for any reason, do anything, to anyone,

for any reason, ever, no matter what...

no matter where...”

So were going to try to evaluate Michaels work performance for him.

What is Michael doing right as a boss,

in spite of everything that appears so wrong about him?

Sometimes you have to just be the boss of dancing.”

I think that pretty much sums it up.

I found it at Spencer Gifts.”

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If a baby were president, there would be no taxes,

there would be no war.

There would be no... government, and... things could get terrible.”

Being a boss is peak adulting - youre basically parenting

a bunch of other adults.

But The Office shows us what happens if your boss is an overgrown kid.

Babies are drawn to me, and I think its because they see me

as one of them.”

There are three things especially that align Michael with a kid:

1) his love of play and creativity,

2) his total lack of impulse control,

and 3) his urgent desire for love and approval.

A lot of office time gets taken up by Michaels childlike need for play.

Sittinin my office with a plate of grilled bacon.

Call my man Dwight just to see what was shakin’.”

For him, every meeting is a performance, and he wants it to be

a life-changing experience for his audience.

People expect a lot from these meetings.

Laughter, sudden twists, surprise endings.”

Michael also has unconscious creativity in his use of language,

much like a kid does.

Im not superstitious.

But Im, Imjust a little stitious.”

Tell him to call me ASAP as possible.”

Occasionally Ill hit somebody with my car.

So sue me.”

And Michaels use of language becomes a mirror of him as a person --

everything he says is wrong, yet something strangely

right and delightful emerges from the creativity of his error.

It just seems awfully mean.

But sometimes, the ends justify the mean.”

The common perception around The Office is that Michaels playful antics

are a massive waste of time.

Holly later discusses the corporate term for this kind of behavior

Its called time theft, and its the same as taking money

from the company.”

but the show implies that the release we get from playing and goofing around,

taking breaks from the drudgery, may actually be good for

our focus and productivity.

Weve all been to boring meetings that might benefit from a little

Michael Scott pizzazz.

His emphasis on creativity represents an important realignment of values

in the workplace.

The fundamentals of business.

Because youre mental if you dont have a good time.”

As much as the employees love to complain about Michael

Michael, you are the reason I drink.”

What I hate about you, you really suck as a boss.”

the two times he actually leaves, the office is suddenly

a less warm and happy place.

Michaels like the movie on a plane.

Its not great, but its something to watch.

And when its over youre like, how much time is left on this flight?”

Tobys words capture what is so special about Michaels presence --

he creates an open, fun atmosphere that understands the magic power

of giving play a role in the workplace.

The workplace demands that we control

our emotions and instincts.

But the child Michael has an almost pathological lack of impulse control.


Come on, guys, get out of here.”



His totally unfiltered, uninhibited nature

Sometimes Ill start a sentence and I dont even know where its going.”

means his team frequently has to babysit him.

Yeah, and when Michael gets a broken heart,

this whole place comes to a halt.

So were just trying to get out in front of this.”

Thats awesome.

You want some ice cream?”

But this responsibility to look after the boss

can bring out the best in the Scranton employees.

You know what, why dont you guys deal with it?

But you need to decide, otherwise Im taking the bonus.”

Because everyone sees him as an incompetent, impulsive child,

they rise to the occasion to fill the absence

where their manager should be, and do their best work.

All of the other bosses who come into Michaels seat

seem to be a lot smarter, more logical and more professional,

but as managers they mainly get in the way of employees

doing their jobs well.

Until we get a new receptionist, I want Kevin on the phones.”


Also, theres been way too much wasting time.

So Stanley, I want you on top of that.

I want you to be my productivity tsar.

Ok, good.”

The Office actually implies numerous times that the ideal boss would be no boss at all.

Why dont we just leave that position vacant?

Truth be told, I think I thrive under a lack of accountability.”

Actually, apart from under Michaels leadership,

another period of stellar performance for the branch

is the 3 months when Andy abandons his post as manager

for the Bahamas.

The branch exceeded its targets in the past quarter.”


Thats wonderful!”

A quarters three months.

Thats how long youve been gone.”

Michael is the next best thing to no boss at all.

His lack of directed, adult-like management creates a sort of vacuum or absence

that lets people get on with their work.

At least, no ones actively micromanaging them

to make their business worse --

which is exactly what Andy does the moment he returns from the Bahamas.

It appears my employee offered you a price that he was not authorized to.”

There is an option in the contract that allows me to back out

within thirty days of signing, so

I would like to exercise that option.”

Michaels desperation to be loved is something of a fatal flaw.

Would I rather be feared or loved?

Easy, both.

I want them to fear how much they love me.”

But underneath that is a deep desire to turn his coworkers into his friends,

even family.

Im a friend first and a boss secondand probably an entertainer third.”

Were taught that being professional means having boundaries with coworkers.

Over time, though, we start to wonder if viewing his coworkers as family

is anotherwrongthing hes actually doing right as a boss.

Michaels love for his employees is a refreshing change from

the corporate bottom line.

Let's see Josh replace these people.

You think Stanleys grow on trees?

Well, they dont.

You think the world is crawling with Phyllises, and Kevins?”

Most corporations probably wouldnt see such value

in a Phyllis or a Stanley or a Kevin

Dwight almost definitely

would have been fired numerous times under any other boss.

We have cause to fire you.”

Can you shove it down?

Insteadshove down, please.

Instead, what I think we should do

is strip you of your title as safety officer.”

And as much as his employees look dubiously on his sentimentality,

Michael turns them into a tight-knit family over time.

I feel like all my kids grew up, and then they married each other.

It's every parent's dream.”

Rather than spending all this time with our coworkers being slaves

to professional barriers, why not follow Michael Scotts example

of treating the people you work with like a family?

Not just seeing their productivity and results,

but valuing Phyllis simply for being Phyllis.

Make friends first, make sales second,

make love third, in no particular order.”

Oscar Martinez, my accountant, is now godfather to my son.

Angela Schrute, my former accountant, is now my wife.

My top salesman Jim Halpert was best man at my wedding.

And office administrator Pamela Beesly Halpert

is my best friend.”

Theres also a fourth childlike thing that Michael does right as a boss.

And thats believing in his crazy dreams.

Michael Scott is essentially a modern version of Don Quixote.

Published in the early 1600s, Miguel de Cervantesmasterpiece

Don Quixote is the story of a nobleman who decides that hes a knight

in an era when chivalry has faded out of existence --

so everyone around him thinks hes gone crazy.

Don Quixote is famous for charging at windmills

that he thinks are giants,

just as Michael is always going about his everyday adventures

with over-the-top grandiosity.

We are going to reclaim our gift baskets!!”

Don Quixote is fixated on the romance of the past.

Likewise, Michael is the leader of a small regional paper company in a digital age.

Sir, as a company that primarily distributes paper,

how have you adapted your business model to function

in an increasingly paperless world?”

Real business is done on paper.


Write that down.”

And while everyone knows that the paper business is headed

towards obliteration, Michael doesnt see it that way.

You're starting your own paper company.


“'Cause I know paper.

I know everything there is to know about paper.”

Do you know that the industry is in decline?”


God, I practically invented decline.”

Don Quixote gets inspired by reading too many stories.

And Michael is just as suggestible.

Wheres Armani?

Hes on the phone.

Too slow.

Youre not going to Paris.”

Michael just rented The Devil Wears Prada.”

Dwight is Michaels Sancho Panza, the faithful sidekick who obediently follows

Don Quixote into every misguided crusade.

And Holly is Michaels Dulcinea, the farm girl Quixote falls for

and reimagines as a great lady.

Shes the love of my life.

What you and Jim have times a hundred.”

Others may see more of the commonfarm girlin Holly

I dont get it.

Im sorry, I just

I dont get it.”

but to Michael she is perfection

Holly is the best thing that has happened to this company since World War II.”

Its Michaels dogged faith that he and Holly are meant to be

Holly and I are like Romeo and Juliet and this office is like the dragon

that kept them apart.”

that ultimately wins her over.

And his happy ending with her tells us to keep trusting in our

most outlandish dreams.

We know that before Michael was promoted to manager,

he was an excellent salesman.

His unshakable faith in what he's selling

makes him really good at convincing others to believe.

So Michaels optimistic refusal to face facts

at first appears to be his insanity --

but eventually its revealed to be his superpower.

I understand nothing.”

Maybe what a company in a doomed industry truly needs

is a hopelessly romantic leader who wont admit defeat

or bow down to brutal reality.

You have no idea how high I can fly.”

At first viewers might look down on Michael and Dwight,

and the moredeludedcharacters in The Office.

But as the series goes on, we come to pity more the characters

who dont have a delusion, or a weird, passionate escape.

The employees see their work as existentially pointless

Im boring myself just talking about this.”

and they view their office as a prison.

What was prison like?”

Not terrible.


We do the same thing every day.

But at least we get outdoors time.”

You got outdoors time?

Michael, why don't we get outdoors time?”

And this raises the question - is it really crazy to love working

at small branch of a failing paper company, or is it even crazier to feel like

a prisoner of a dead-end job and do nothing to change your situation?

Listen to this Don Quixote quote - does it not perfectly encapsulate

the philosophy of Michael Scott?

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?

Perhaps to be practical is madness.

To surrender dreamsthis may be madness.

Too much sanity may be madnessand maddest of all:

to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”

An office is a place tolive life to the fullest, to the max, to...

An office is a place where dreams come true.”

As the American update to Ricky GervaisDavid Brent in the UK Office,

Steve Carells Michael starts out in Brents mold --

as the incorrect, cringeworthy nightmare boss.

Is there something besidesMexicanthat you prefer?

Something less offensive?”

But in the black comedy style of many British shows,

Brent never learns anything or improves as a person.

While Michael goes the American path of growing into a beloved,

even inspirational character.

Never, ever, ever give up.”

If you look closer, though, Michael actually doesnt improve

or change all that much.

Mmm, si senor.”

That's offensive.”

Its not!

It's not offensive during a roast.”

Pam Beesly, office hottie.

She will do you.

I would never say this to her face, but she's a wonderful person

and a gifted artist.

What...why wouldn't you say that to her face?”

But, over time, the story puts more emphasis

on the characters redeeming qualities.

The David Brent-like characteristics are balanced by a personality

that is truly loving and heartfelt.

And this basically makes him the antidote to a lot of whats wrong

with the corporate world today.

Remember when people used to saybosswhen they were describing something

that was really cool?

But now, boss is just slang forjerk in charge.’”

So maybe, Michael teaches us, the worlds best boss is someone who:

distracts his employees so they dont work too hard,

makes play a priority, brings out the best

in those underneath him, values his employees as people,

and dares to dream the impossible dream.

What a great boss you turned out to be.

Best boss I ever had.”

This is Tanner Christiansen.

Tanner is a creative strategist, the author of The Creativity Challenge,

and hes worked as a product designer at Facebook.

We saw that Michaels creative play helps his office be more productive.

But if you want to make your own creative dreams a reality,

you should check out Tanners class on Productivity for Creatives

only on Skillshare.

Ideas are easy.

Everyone has ideas.

But what people dont tend to do is produce something with those ideas.”

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The Description of The Office: Why Michael Scott is Actually the World's Best Boss