30 Stupid Workplace And School Rules That Backfired Beautifully, As Shared By People In This Thread
People are social creatures and we need rules to help us interact with each other, organizations, and governments. What's more, since the world is constantly changing, regulations have to be updated too.
But, as one Reddit thread shows, this is often easier said than done. Started by user Mercurydriver, it asked platform users the question: "What is one rule that was implemented at your school or work that backfired horribly?" And they gave plenty of juicy answers.
From demanding that employees ask permission before using the restroom to prohibiting students from parking their cars next to the school if they're late for class, some ideas are simply better on paper than in reality.
Continue scrolling to read the stories and don't miss the chat we had with Dr. Mike Brooks, a licensed psychologist based in Austin, about staying in the driver seat of your life — it's spread out between the texts.
Well, it wasn't a school wide policy, but I had a super [jerk] French teacher who would constantly hand out detentions for things as inconsequential as walking to the trash can to throw away a piece of paper. She absolutely could not deal with the fact that we periodically might need to actually leave our chairs for a perfectly valid reason. One day she locked herself out of the classroom and nobody would let her back in. "Sorry! We aren't allowed to get out of our seats!" She had to get the janitor, lol.
If you feel overwhelmed by the boundaries that govern your actions, there are things you can do to help your predicament. "Having a sense of control is essential to our well-being," Dr. Brooks, the co-author of Tech Generation: Raising Balanced Kids in a Hyper-Connected World, told Bored Panda. "Basically, when we have what is called an internal locus of control, we believe that what we do makes a difference. We can change our lives by working to achieve desired goals."
"In contrast, when we have more of an external locus of control, we believe that forces beyond our control determine our fate. We are like leaves in the wind. Having a strong internal locus of control is associated with more positive well-being whereas having an external locus of control is associated with depression and other mental health struggles."
"From this perspective, our need for control is very much related to our needs for freedom and liberty. We long for the liberty to control our own lives. While we are resilient and do have to give up some of our liberty to be a part of society, when our freedom and control are too constrained, our mental health is likely to begin to suffer at some point," the psychologist explained.
In my dorm, if you did something that triggered the smoke/fire alarm, you had to do a safety presentation for everyone on your floor. This was intended to deter pranksters from pulling the alarm.
A guy on our floor was making grilled cheese in the kitchenette, and burned it, which legitimately triggered the fire alarm. Afterwards, he explained, assuming that since it had been a legitimate alarm, and not a prank, that he wouldn't have to do a presentation. He was, of course, wrong.
So, the next Wednesday night, the entire floor assembled, and we were treated to a thirty minute safety presentation on the dangers of grilled cheese sandwiches. It contained literally nothing about fire safety. It was all choking hazards and cholesterol.
Our RA was furious, but the student pointed out that the write-up that he'd been given just said "safety presentation".
We didn't get any more presentations after that.
Dr. Brooks said there are many factors that can contribute to losing our sense of control. "Sometimes we are in situations or environments that actually do limit our options. For instance, we might be in a romantic relationship with a very controlling partner or a work environment in which our boss 'micro-manages' us. So, when our choices are limited or constrained by external forces, then we are likely to feel less in control and, as a result, less happy."
"We can also lose our sense of control when we focus on things that we can't control rather than the things we can control," he added. "So, there is a bit of a both/and here. It is true that we can't control everything in our lives. Bad things do happen to us, often through no fault of our own. However, focusing on what we can't control is a road to feeling powerless, helpless, and unhappy."
My company, as part of its alcohol policy, said you should not drink for at least four hours before coming to work. When engineers got called about production problems over the weekend, they all "just had a beer" but could be there in about four or five hours.
Interestingly, when researchers from Brandeis University, the University of Rochester, and the German Institute for Economic Research looked at 6,135 people between the ages of 25 and 75, they found that having a strong sense of control over your circumstances reduces the risk of death and can offset the negative health effects of getting less education.
They looked at the data over 14 years—from 1995 to 2009. In analyzing the numbers, the researchers first controlled for demographics, then for both parental and participant levels of education, and finally control beliefs.
Turns out, older male minorities were most at risk of dying. Parental education levels did not seem to affect mortality, but the participants' own education did: each standard deviation increase in education (such as "from high school to an associate’s degree," the study helpfully explains) decreased mortality risk by 17 percent. Having a stronger sense of control over one's life reduced the risk by 13 percent.
My high school was trying to prevent a senior prank since the class before us had got a little out of hand. They basically told us not to have one, that they would get anyone who did anything in a lot of trouble, yada yada
So somebody has an idea. What if we do an "anti prank". The idea had floated around the halls and everyone knew what we were going to do. For an entire week, every senior was going to bring a potentially threatening item for a senior prank, and do nothing with it.
The week starts and that Monday, nearly the entire senior class carries a banana with them to every class. This is a school of ~2600 student, 650 graduating class. So there are hundreds of bananas being carried through the halls, teachers and assistant principals freaking out. By noon, an announcement was made that all bananas needed to be eaten or thrown away or they would be confiscated. So by that afternoon, every banana was taken away from the student.
The next day got even better. Somebody has the idea that we should all bring a gallon jug of water with us to class. And to no one's surprise, again there is an announcement that they are going to start taking up the water jugs for fear of what we are going to do with them. But this time, the students got creative. People are resentful now and not wanting to give up their precious water. Students are getting creative, hiding them in backpacks, avoiding teachers in the hallways, whatever it took to keep their water jugs. But alas, most of the jugs had been confiscated.
So the students start taking to social media. Tons of tweets and mentions are going out to local news stations, TMZ, Oprah, Ellen, you name it, they got mentioned. All of these messages are going out along the lines of "School is confiscating all water, not allowing students to drink water #highschooldrought2kxx #weredying #sendhelp. You get the picture. Before the end of the day, two different news reporters were at our school. Guess we had the last laugh after all.
TL;DR: School made silly rules to not let us have a senior prank. We anti-pranked them and their rules back fired. lots of negative press over nothing malicious ever happening.
"It is likely that perceived control involves a variety of factors, ranging from motivation to beliefs or cognitions, social and behavioral histories of successes and failures, different types of relationships with others, and affective tone,” the study reads.
"Some elements of perceived control may vary with changes in external situations, but many may be more dispositional."
The researchers say that a lot of it is just personality, but people can still change their sense of control.
Zero tolerance, which means if you are involved with fighting, you will be kicked out. No questions asked. They think it would means no more fighting.
Nope. It means if the bully is beating up a kid, no one would step in, for fear of involving with the fight and getting kicked out. No one would snitch because it means the bully will target you next, and now you are involved in fighting and get kicked out. It is a s**t policy.
"To regain a sense of control, it is helpful to focus on what we can control in our lives rather than what we cannot," Dr. Brooks highlighted.
"For the things we cannot control, our work is acceptance. That doesn't mean we necessarily like the things we cannot change. However, since some things are indeed beyond our control, we have to focus on what we can control, which includes our attitude about the things that we cannot control," he explained.
If you violated the dress code policy, you had to wear these really big gray sweatpants or sweatshirts that said DCV in big orange letters. (Dress Code Violation). It became a thing to get caught because they were apparently really comfortable. When the admin finally caught on that people were trying to get them on purpose, they changed it so that you got in school suspension. Jokes on them for that too. Lots of kids preferred that over being in class.
However, the psychologist said that we can't escape situations and environments in which we lack control, such as having that boss who micromanages us. "Once we have exhausted our efforts to gain more autonomy from our boss or to change the work environment, we can still control changing jobs. In this way, we are always searching for creative ways to gain a sense of control and agency while accepting the forces that affect us that are outside of our control."
"Being able to skillfully meet our need for control and balance this with accepting the things we cannot is a key to success and happiness in life," Dr. Brooks said. "As the stoic philosopher Epictetus advised, 'The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own.'"
For additional inspiration, Dr. Brooks also suggests remembering a more familiar Serenity Prayer that captures this idea as well: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
My senior year of high school some guy in my class got an in school suspension for wearing a headband (he had long, curly hair) so the next couple weeks almost every guy on the football team started wearing headbands in protest. Keep in mind that girls could wear headbands, just not guys. No one really understood this rule
Edit: this took place right in the middle of football season
My Jr.high school adopted a policy to not allow kids to loiter in groups of 5 or more, in attempts to crack down on "gang mentality". this was freaking Jr.High. Anyway me and my group of misfits (6 of us) were always hanging out during free times, and the principal eventually stopped us and asked us to separate. I had to casually explain to him that were we not a group of 6, but 2 groups of 3 that were inter-mingling. People caught wind and that rule was basically dead.
That was one of the few times i had to explain to my father why he was called into the principals office with me.
A school in my area jacked up the cost of the parking pass. People protested by not buying the pass. Instead they rode the bus. Funny thing is the county really relies on juniors and seniors driving because they don’t have enough busses for all the students. The parking pass fee dropped. People drove again. Don’t ever let them tell you driving to school is a privilege. They NEED you to drive to school.
When I was in kindergarten, during the morning announcements one day they came on and said "and please no throwing snowballs. There is a chance you might accidentally get some rocks in them." You could see on the faces of all 20-some students the realization that "OMG we could put rocks in them!"
I've told this story before, but my high school tried to crack down on people wearing their ties too short, as was the fashion. It got to the stage where anything except completely pristine uniforms would get you a detention -- which, coming up to exam season, was one more thing we didn't want to deal with. In protest at what was widely seen as a ridiculous rule, ties started getting longer and longer -- one foot, two feet, two and a half feet, as long as people could get them.
It culminated in one girl sewing two ties together into a five-foot beast that trailed on the floor as she walked and resulted in the Deputy Head having a screaming s**tfit one day about how disrespectful we all were to the uniform codes. After that, the teachers quietly gave up on the new hardline approach to uniforms, and everything went back to normal.
This was actually in the news a couple of months ago. We had a really hot summer last year, and the boys at my little brother's secondary school were mad that they couldn't wear shorts but the girls could wear skirts.
The Junior Leadership Team bought it up at a meeting, and the headteacher jokingly went, "alright If the boys want to wear skirts,then let them."
A group of boys went to school wearing skirts the next day. Then it wasn't just a group of them
I went to a private school for elementary, where uniforms were strict. If you didnt wear a belt you'd go to the principles office and he would make you use a shoe string. Well when he opened the drawer there was like 6 different colors and everybody thought it was really neat so for a short period of time there was a bunch of kids coming to school with no belt so they could wear their lime green shoe string belt.
I'm a programmer. On a previous job, the developers and teams were measured by the number of feature requests they completed.
We figured out to subdivide everything to blow it up into the maximum number of feature requests possible. A manager might request a new report. We'd set up separate feature tickets for "create button", "make button blue", "make button respond when clicked", "implement business logic", "display results in grid", "allow sorting of grid", and so on. We'd subdivide a 1-day task into 20 one-hour tasks.
Management loved it! Our team looked twenty times as productive, despite deliberately slowing ourselves down with red tape.
My High School made students wear these neon t-shirts that read "Dress Code Violator" if their outfit didn't adhere to the school's policy. They became so popular the school began selling them one week later.
Not sure if it was exactly a rule but my middle school once encouraged kids to not touch each other at all to reduce physical harassment cases, even friendly gestures among friends.
All that did was get the kids running around touching each either around campus for about a month and a half screaming "physicial harrassment!" As they did so. To add insult to injury they did it twice as often in front of the admin who made the presentation about it.
*Little backstory, my high school was a teeny tiny rural school, 600 kids in grades 7-12
Randomly at the beginning of second semester my senior year, the new principal (who had just moved here from an inner city school in another state) decided that we would no longer be allowed to carry backpacks/bookbags in the halls between classes for safety reasons. Makes sense in this day and age, but the students were pissed about this abrupt change in clockwork of our tiny school. Shenanigans ensued after this new rule came into effect, including every student dropping their books in the hall simultaneously at 10:50 one day.
My personal favorite was the guy in my class who decided he would make something that couldn’t be called a “backpack”. First he took a bunch of belts and tied his books together so they could he carried (on his back). That was shut down after day two. That’s when it got hilarious - the next Monday he comes waltzing in wearing a product of his own design. He had made L shaped shelves from pieces of wood that could be connected to the sides of his legs, and proceeded to harness his books to these leg brace shelves. Needless to say, he was pulled from class before lunch.
My Dad was a corpsman with the Marines doing high desert training in the Mojave. They had a big problem with unidentified snakebites, ie people would get bit but not identify the snake, so it was hard to find the right antidote. So my dad got all the Marines in a room and said "If you get bit by a snake, bring it back here so we can identify it. Not even a full week later they had to alter the wording a bit, because a marine was bit by a rattlesnake and decided to bring it back-without killing it. This man had carried this snake all the way back to base ALIVE, and the snake decided to let him know exactly how he felt about that by repeatedly biting his arm the entire time. Needless to say, that marine went home, and they made sure to hold another meeting where they told everyone to KILL the snake, then bring it back.
Edit: He kept the arm. They got him to base hospital in roughly 50 minutes and gave him anti-venom. He was out for 6 weeks. This was in 1995 at 29 palms (He calls it 29 stumps) 4th marine division, ie reservist marines out of Buffalo New York
There was rule they put in place my freshman year of high school, that if you arrived late i.e. after first bell, you couldn't park in the parking lot. You'd have to park at the gas station down the highway and walk to school, making you even more late.
It stopped after 20 or so people intentionally showed up late to school and made a mass exodus along the highway. On top of a lot of parents b****ing.
We found out our Catholic elementary school wasn't allowed to stop any sort of religious behaviour regardless if it's a Catholic school.
Lots of "Hail Satan"s and uncomfortable teachers ensued
They made a new rule where we had to ask permission to use the restroom during lunch.
We all coordinated and the whole cafeteria would raise their hands at once to request to go. They responded by sending us two at a time. We did this for a few days then changed our procedure to everyone just getting up at once and going to the restroom without permission.
They didn't ever officially do away with the rule, but the teachers on duty in the lunch room eventually just stopped enforcing it.
Edit: it's interesting how many people responded something like "my school had the same rule", and how many people said something like "wtf, that's the craziest rule I've heard of, is this even real?"
If you return a library book late, your parents would have to return it and explain why it's late. It worked about as well as you would think. The rule lasted a few months before they figured it wasn't worth the cost of replacing all the books.
We got a new manager for our office - she was an outside hire and was trying to prove herself quickly, and she was obsessed with efficiency.
So, her first week here she sent out this very rudely worded email about employees eating at our desks (we have a very small break area - 4 tables and we have about 300 employees here) and that we all had to stop eating at our desks, because "it was not efficient to eat and try to work at the same time".
Through a coordinated effort by some of the more sassy people at the office they all had their lunches at the same time and filled the break room with about 90 people. Elbow to elbow and they all ate standing up. Literally, the next day after that happened, she sent out a follow-up email saying that we could eat at our desks but she advised us to take a break from our work from time to time.
It was pretty funny.
My high school put in a policy so that after the 3rd time you were late, you got detention. They didn't change the absent policy.
Tardiness decreased by 52(?) %. Absentees increased 70%.
Edit: The punishment for missing was nothing until social services comes in.
My School banned all balls over a couple of inches in diameter beacuse someone kicked a football through a window during lunch.
Most of us that walked home walked past the woods by the golf course and had a ready supply of golf balls as a result.
Golf balls were allowed under the new rules due to their size.
3 broken windows in one lunch period later they weren't.
I told this story before but in high school they banned backpacks in classrooms. Everyone was pissed. Some girls started bringing bigger purses to put their books in, so a bunch of dudes brought their mom's purses in and were using those for school books.
Administration and teachers got upset because we found a loophole so they banned purses too. At which point a bunch of moms got upset because their daughters had to carry around tampons and stuff in their coat pockets, in addition to all of their books, notebooks, calculators, pens/pencils, and whatever else they have in those purses.
Finally the school let everyone have their backpacks back.
Edit: Knowing that other places banned backpacks makes me feel a bit better. What would make me feel a lot better is going back in time and telling Mrs. Gaines that she can eat a bag of decomposing dongs for suggesting that we get rid of our backpacks. That lady hated teaching, and she hated students - she just loved control. Already having an authority problem, I bucked up at her more than once. I remember one story where me and a bunch of other seniors started "compli-sulting" each other. We'd pay each other compliments, but in an insulting tone, start to act like we were going to fight, then hug it out. We thought it was hilarious, but Mrs. Gaines thought we were being disrespectful to her authority because we'd compli-sult each other a bunch outside of her door. Once we learned this annoyed her we started to do it more until some pink slips started coming out and people were getting sent to the office for "complimenting each other in a loud tone." What a joke of a teacher.
"Don't do anything unless directed by your Boss, any deviation from this will result in write-up/termination."
This was a very literal directive from upper management that took place after an office incident. Our work is very fluid, and our team alone contained 20 people. Needless to say productivity hit unfounded lows.
My middle school had a "no touching rule" which meant you'd get suspended for high fiving a friend. Girls got in trouble for hugging their friends. Our teachers thought this was ridiculous and would have students high five each other in their classes for a minute everyday. So many kids got suspensions that the rule stopped being enforced and only counted if you touched a kid in a bullying situation or sexual harassment.
New manager got rid of the sofa in the break room so people couldn't nap on their hour long lunch break. No one overslept or took the p**s but it was good to have the option on a tough day.
Stoner guy started sleeping in other places, including in-between walls and in the warehouse. That's when we started losing him and couldn't find him as he'd go into a deeper sleep and was less likely to be disturbed.
He didn't lose his job somehow, that place had a hard time hiring.
Edit: To clarify where stoner guy would go, we'd find him in-between walls and shelves. It was a DIY store that had been something else years before so there were random partition walls and oddly laid out shelving units everywhere, a real s**t show of a store lay out. He had quite a few places to hide in and nap.
Our school made it so you couldn't play dodgeball anymore. So what happened was is that the gym teachers came up with this new game called "Fireball." The rules are there are balls in the middle of the gym people go on two seperate teams go for and if you get hit you're out, if you catch a ball you- okay so it was basically dodgeball. Then fireball was banned. So now there's this new game called "Pinball". Which isn't involving the machines unfortunately but it's basically dodgeball/ Fireball but there's bowling pins that need to be knocked over as well. I think they just gave up after a while.
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