I mean, come on. How do I ask my manager for time off? How long should I wait before decorating my desk? How do I follow up an email that just says "thank you"? My colleagues have too much fun! What should I do? How can I ask my boss to leave two minutes early?

I think there's a really thick line between genuine workplace related scenarios and just basic common sense. Not even that - Basic human interaction. Some questions leave me laughing at just how childish they are, and some of the thoughtfully typed out replies that accompany them. Surely a prerequisite for many jobs is to be able to type out an email.

I hope I'm not the only one that feels this cuddlecakes.


3 Answers 3


I would have thought it was basic common sense to not assume everyone else in the world has had the same life experiences you have. And that it was common sense not to judge or mock people for having experienced a different life.

I have a friend who for his entire childhood had parents who didn't work consistently, lived on government benefits, and did not really parent him at all. He has no idea how to apply for jobs, what normal work conduct is, or all the basics about the job process. Let alone how to interact with managers. How do you expect a person like that to learn your "common sense" about the working world - a world that is as alien to him as a completely different culture, with a language you did not know. It is "common sense" for everyone there to be able to navigate the cultural questions - would you mock someone for not being able to do that effective? It sure would be "common sense" for those living there.

Things are "common sense" to you because of your life experience(s). Consider that others may not share your life experiences (shocking, I know, but this is one of the most common misunderstandings when people mock/demean/judge others, such as your post here). Many people have no workplace experience or role models in their entire life, had uninvolved parents, or are just super nervous given the importance of their job.

Additionally, considering how many people see employee/manager relationships as a clear power hierarchy, where the manager/employer has all the power, it only makes sense people would have uncertainty navigating those relationships. Especially for early career people or those in countries without much or any employee protection.

Isn't this all common sense? ;-)

  • 1
    I think an honest answer is more useful than a long winded explanation as to the pros and cons of turning the air conditioning down. An office environment isn't as complex as some people on here make it out to be. A lot of questions seem to come from the overthinking of a relatively simple situation. Not even a work related situation, a basics of human interaction situation.
    – Pequod
    Feb 2, 2016 at 15:52
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    Further, norms and expectations vary. We're a worldwide site; if I go into a workplace in Germany or Japan or Outer Mongolia and just assume that my American-bred "common sense" applies, I'm probably going to be in for some hurting. Feb 2, 2016 at 15:55
  • @Pequod While your point is certainly valid, "you are overthinking this" accompanied by reasons is still a lot more helpful than "you are an idiot". It might be obvious to you that the asker is overthinking his situation, but not to him. If you are capable of helping him see better, why would you instead choose to poke him in the eye? That doesn't sound like common sense to me, but maybe I am overthinking this. :-)
    – Masked Man
    Feb 11, 2016 at 15:44
  • Common sense changes from person to person. Let me give you an example: if I ask my parents (who grew up between various military regimes in their home country) about my last question, their answer would probably be something like "shut up, do as you're told, save your neck whatever it takes". Their answer would have been acceptable back in their days, but not so much now. Feb 13, 2016 at 18:56

While I do laugh to myself after reading some of the questions here, I don't see much value in derision.

One motto I learned at my workplace many years ago, and which I try to apply here is "Assume positive intent".

Thus, I either try to either answer the question in a helpful manner, without regard to my feelings about the question, or I don't answer it at all and use the other mechanisms (like downvoting or voting to delete) we have at our disposal here at The Workplace.


I don't think about whether the question lacks common sense very much. Most of the people around me seem to lack common sense in way way or another, and probably think the same of me.

I do try not to do the long winded explanations, but sometimes my typing gets out of control.

I'm pretty new here though, still feeling my way around, I promise to read all the guidelines one day.

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