Interviewing, Persuasion, and Rapport Building: Office Space Analyzed

What happens when you stop caring about what other people think?

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The late 1990s comedy Office Space shows us the power of breaking social norms. In today’s episode, we examine how Peter Gibbons demonstrates essential traits of a persuasive argument.

After a personal revelation that leads him to give up on joining the “rat race” of corporate conformity, he unwittingly gains leadership traits that propel his career.

The movie features three key scenes that are relevant to interview presentation skills. Each scene provides a strong example of Rapport Building scenarios:

Lack of Rapport – No confidence and a pessimistic attitude leads to an adversarial relationship with those you wish to persuade. No rapport means no influence which means no effective communication.

“I HAVE PEOPLE SKILLS!!! What the hell is wrong with you people?!”

Personal Rapport – Personal Rapport building is helpful in persuasion but can be tricky if it is forced or faked. To find a common ground that you are truly passionate is important because it leads to a level playing field which helps in persuasion. Forcing camaraderie or faking an interest will be quickly dismissed and, at worst, be met with hostility.

“Your name is Michael.. Bolton?”

Professional Rapport – Demonstrating experience by showing awareness of uncomfortable truths, important needs, or common goals, will launch an interest in what you have to say. If you your research, learn your audience, and execute with confidence, you will be seen as an expert and be sought for solutions.

“You know Bob, that’ll only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.”

The three components of persuasion Peter leverages in the final interview are very important when establishing yourself as an expert:

Confidence is king – Peter just stopped caring about what other people think and it made them that much more interested in what he had to say.

Different is better than better – Peter wasn’t particularly skilled at his job but his refreshing honesty helped him stand apart from his peers at the office.

Identify problems to create opportunity – By displaying awareness of the company’s problems, Peter set himself up as the means to a solution. This technique is an essential part of an effective sales strategy.

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29 Comments on “Interviewing, Persuasion, and Rapport Building: Office Space Analyzed”

  1. 3:55 Absolutely LOVE how he just walks right around Lumbergh who obviously wants to talk to him about some inane topic… like TPS reports or whatever.

  2. Congrats on analysing an anti-corporate film, missing the entire point of it, and turning it into corporate propaganda

  3. Hey man – please tell me what the intro music is – and where I might find it. Looking for it for almost a year. Yeah – commented a year ago on another video of yours with the same question.

  4. While the examples pointed out here have a lot of truth to them, it's important to mention that Peter's success requires the Bob's to be so enraptured by his honesty that they don't notice that he's still a lazy and unmotivated employee. He might be saying it with a smile on his face and giving them insights about the company they hadn't yet unearthed, but he still flat out tells them "I hate my job and work as little as possible." If the goal of this video is to point out how he does become successful through establishing a relationship, then you've got some meat here; however, that was never his intention. He was brutally honest because he didn't care and the Bobs promoted him out of fascination and poorly judging him.

  5. This video is well made and does have valid points to it, but I do have two problems:

    1. That whiteboard isn't a diagram of the people getting fired, it says right at the top "Planning to Plan" and it's the joke at unnecessary corporate bureaucracy and redundancy in meetings, planning sessions, email chains, etc that all get in the way of just doing something before discussing it a hundred times.

    2. Peter does become more successful once he gains his aloofness, which does help him establish a rapport with the Bobs, yes; but I wouldn't really use this movie as an example of successfully climbing the corporate ladder. Peter still hates his job afterwards, his friends get fired, they steal from the company, and Peter doesn't really find any joy in his work until he's on the clean up crew at the end. He never wanted an office job and he just wasn't suited for it, so he didn't really find true success until after he left, he only had this fake superficial success.

    Office Space is just one of the strongest satires against the modern office workplace that I can think of, and to see you use it in a completely non-ironic video essay teaching how to make sales more effectively, I assume mostly in modern office workplaces, I think you pretty much missed the point. You're a Bob, maybe an effective one, but I think you're just a Bob.

  6. seriously the most bizarre analysis of office space I've ever seen. Definitely miles away from whatever message the movie was trying to make but whatever.

  7. This is a wonderful sociological breakdown of these themes are they are present in the film- Thank you for creating an informative and fun video!

  8. Super cool! Well produced, well thought out, and well put together. Easiest sub ever!

  9. I tried to take this seriously but still can't help but laugh at every clip from this movie because it's just that good. Well done video though!

  10. Im having a job interview tomorrow. Randomly saw this video on r/Videos. Think its going to help alot! Great Video!

  11. I've spent decades in sales management and never came across anything as effective as Tom's clip.

  12. Important part is missing here, Peter's open honesty would not have helped him climb the ladder under Lumbergh…The bob's listened to peter because they are looking out for their interests, and Peter is contributing to their success. However the same feedback "Identify problems to create opportunities" to Lumbergh is much more likely to fail, as Lumbergh will likely feel threatened about his position

  13. Haha… I assumed all place were as toxic as where I work. Peter would be fired in a heartbeat here for telling the truth. Time for a new job I guess.

  14. Was eagerly waiting for a new video. Watched the boiler room video 3 times. Keep up the great videos.

  15. I didn't know what I was expecting when I clicked on the link, but that was way more interesting than I thought it would be.

  16. To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I get that "Sales" in the abstract seems like it can be applied everywhere, but that doesn't mean you should apply it everywhere. This video made me cringe.

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