Office surroundings affect human responses.

Ever notice how some ministers’ offices make you feel tense and uninvited? The person behind the desk unconsciously says, “I am an important person so state your business and be quick about it.” Other offices are warm and inviting and make the visitor feel comfortable. What is the difference between the two rooms? How can a pastor’s office be designed so that it communicates cordiality?

First, we must realize that office surroundings do affect human responses. Several studies, the best known by Maslow and Mintz, support this.

They selected three rooms for study. One was an “ugly” room (designed to give the impression of a janitor’s storeroom in disheveled condition). One was a “beautiful” room (complete with carpeting, drapes, and so forth). And one was an “average” room (a professor’s office). Subjects were asked to rate a series of photographs of faces. The experimenters tried to keep all factors, such as time of day, odor, noise, type of seating, and experimenter, constant from room to room so that the results could be attributed to the type of room. Results showed that while in the beautiful room the subjects tended to rate the faces significantly higher than did participants in the ugly room. Experimenters and subjects alike tried to avoid the ugly room, which they described as producing monotony, fatigue, headache, discontent, sleep, irritability, and hostility. The beautiful room, however, produced feelings of pleasure, comfort, enjoyment, importance, energy, and desire to continue the activity.

Suppose your church has built a new structure in which your office is to be located. You want it to be warm and ...

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