close up view colorful candy chocolate
Photo by Caio Resende on


Often, seemingly innocuous gestures have far less innocent motives behind the facilitated actions.  Many may think that such incredulity reflects a negative perception of human nature and to some extent paranoia. I would repudiate this notion claiming such an assertion is not necessarily a sweeping generalization, but rather a manifestation of an observed behavioral pattern. My observations are not generalized delusions nor phobias, but an acquiescence of the less savory aspects of the human condition. Pertaining to the opinions of others, the line between naiveté and irrational skepticism is razor-thin. However, any individual capable of complex reasoning would assume it to be reasonable to not accept actions at face value.  Whether or not we cast doubt upon the seemingly kind acts of an individual is generally based on specific social cues.  Are the actions congruent with the person’s overall temperament? What do they have to gain from behaving in such a manner?  These among other inquiries provide us with the context and precedent of whether to question the actions of another person.  While it is important to not be the victim of gullibility it is equally important to remember that most of the interactions do not yield zero-sum gains.  Generally, positive interactions and transactions are mutually beneficial, providing the longstanding moral justification of capitalism over planned economies.  It isn’t pernicious to maintain a healthy layer of doubt to insulate yourself from exploitation.  Especially, if upon analyzing the context of the interaction, it becomes evident that the individual may have ulterior motives for their actions.


This principle is generally exemplified by mundane and slice-of-life examples. Generally, the workplace is a sphere where such examples are rampant. Examples as the temperamental co-worker with positivity quotes brashly plastered across their cubical is a prime example of the previously mentioned questionable behavior. Clearly, their disposition does not match the image they are attempting to portray. For the obtusely gullible lacking in awareness of the fine nuances of social cues, may fall prey to such transparent predation.  However, most socially mature adults will see right through patently obvious posturing. A thinly cloaked subterfuge that the susceptible minority will fall for. An equally ubiquitous, but slightly more calculated ploy being the communal office candy dish. Even the most profound satirists that have ridiculed the tedium of life as an office worker (Scott Adams, Mike Judge, Ricky Gervais, etc.) never adequately addressed. While one should never paint with a broad brush, where there is a reoccurring behavioral pattern there is a glimmer of truth. All too frequently the individual putting out the candy dish is an individual drowning in abject misery. Bitter, backstabbing, and often inordinately critical to the point of condescension.  An individual who does not see any moral fault in proliferating gossip either for entertainment or to improve their political stature within an organization.  All those attributes are either obscured or softened when faced with the prospect that the same person is providing free candy to the office. As any hunter can thoroughly expound upon is the fact that any effective trap requires bait.


It should be noted that while the true motives of an individual can be truly known, for our own benefit sometimes we need to risk making an erroneous assumption. Especially in circumstances where there isn’t the risk of monetary loss or the consequences are so grave it could result in death. From the standpoint of deductive reasoning, it can be ascertained that there are two main rationales for the reuse of the candy bowl. One conspicuous driving force could be to foster a positive image for purposes of deception.  The analogy of the proverbial trojan horse comes strongly to mind. In the Trojan War, the ancient Greeks utilized the gift of a giant wooden horse filled with soldiers to infiltrate the parameter of Troy. Infiltration being the operative term. The innocuous gesture acts as a point of entry, allowing individuals to let the guard down and become susceptible to attack.  We can assume that “Janet” isn’t all that bad even though she throws her co-workers under the bus every chance she gets.  The candy dish either soften the blow or completely obscures it. Candy acting as a pacifying agent due to the human flaw have the propensity of enjoying sweets. Which really sheds some light on the colloquialism of “sugar-coating” something speech. If you can shroud injurious intentions with positivity on a superficial level, most people only fixate on the positive. Versus conceiving the fact that in the grander picture, the positive act of providing free candy is minuscule when weighed against the levity of the discord this individual has caused. Once you have gained the trust of your colleagues, you have penetrated the outer parameter of the kingdom of Troy. Making it much easier to execute upon exploitation.


The other motive that can be inferred by the spectacle of the free candy dish is that it is being utilized as a means of reinforcing their low self-esteem. On a subconscious level, they understand that they treat their co-workers poorly.  Out of deep-seated fear, that they are universally disliked within the office building they engage in acting upon this self-serving endeavor. Utilizing the results as qualitative and quotative barometer of public perception of them.  Little do they know in this despite an attempt to gather cohobating evidence that they are well-liked is based upon a potentially erroneous assumption. The variable of accepting free sweets and the individual’s actual opinion about the provider of the candy are mutual exclusive. Even though it is feasible for there to be overlap neither are connected in any causal or even correlative manner. All that is achieved in this perspective scenario is that the ill-tempered office worker putting out the candy is fighting an uphill battle with their own cognitive dissonance. In a hasty attempt to blatantly lie to themselves to grapple with the harsh reality that their behavior pushes people away. Such behavior is truly a salient example of the quirks of the human mind and how to reason often displaced by the multitude of various emotional needs. The gap between emotion and grounded reasoning does have the potential to veer into the territory of pathology.


I will admit to the fact that the majority of what is previously detailed is technically conjecture rather than concrete facts. However, most of the patterns and details described are so common that they are borderline archetypical. If there is any truth in my assertions, what would incentivize the dishonest behavior of this reoccurring personality type?  I would state first I pass no direct criticism upon capitalism nor upon private corporations. Private in the sense that they are separated from the government subsidies and other varieties of governmental corporatism. Like a governmental structure, a corporate office is not immune to corruption and is subject to the vice of human flaws. When people see potential short-cuts to gain more status within the company (accompanied by the prospects of promotion and salary raises). Typically, management and human resources will do little to stifle such behavior unless there is ample chance of litigious threats due to the consequences. It appears as if the potential for corruption is an integral condition of any hierarchical stratified organization of people.  Such a hierarchy in a private company is at the very least due to voluntary association and people are free to find a new job as they please. When the state is utilized to distribute goods, the hierarchy is backed by compulsion. The threat is reinforced by the barrel of a gun.  If dissatisfied with the corporate culture of your current employer, at the very least you are free to find a new employer or even to start your own company.

2 thoughts on “The Trojan Horse of the Office Candy Bowl.

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