If you are like me and millions of others, you are a working professional. You spend the better part of your day in an office environment; usually a cubicle-filled area with the occasional water bottle station, print room or break area. You also are forced to spend your day with co-workers. There are all types of personalities found in the workplace: the gossipers eager to spread the latest workplace rumor, the brown-nosers who will do anything (and I mean anything) to bask in appraisal from their manager, those creepy old men whose eyes you can feel undressing you every time you are forced to engage in a conversation with them, and that one weird guy who smells funny and brings a container of liquefied food for lunch each day. (No? I’m the only one who works with that guy? Drat.)
Since we already put up with enough crap in the workplace, let’s try to make the daily experience a little bit easier on each other, shall we? Here are a few things I have encountered that I would like you all to be aware of in your day-to-day work activities.
- When composing an email, try to refrain from using all caps. This could give the reader the impression you are yelling at them. Also, contrary to what you may think, putting twelve exclamation points at the end of a sentence does not get your point across more effectively.
- Men: when speaking with a woman in the workplace, your gaze should be fixed on her eyes. It should not wander south of her general face area throughout the conversation. Believe it or not, we can see you looking at our boobs. We really can.
- Do not cough up loogies and then spit them in your trash can. It demonstrates poor hygiene and I am pretty sure the cleaning lady does not appreciate it.
- Try to avoid the use of foul language as it can be offensive and really doesn’t make you seem “cool”, despite what you have been telling yourself since you were 13. (Click here for a list of creative alternatives to curse words.) Refrain from cursing in meetings, on conference calls, when speaking to co-workers/managers, or simply talking to yourself.
- Avoid talking to yourself. It’s pretty creepy.
- When having a personal phone conversation, try to be discreet. It is not polite to yell and curse (see #4) on the phone at your significant other about a personal matter. Your cubical walls are not made of lead and your co-workers can hear every word you say (and probably wish they hadn’t).
- Fight the urge to sleep at your desk. Even if you are sitting up in your seat, people can tell you are asleep because your eyes have been closed for more than a minute and your head starts to nod. You aren’t fooling anyone.
- Do not go to the bathroom and sleep on the toilet. People can hear you snoring from the bathroom stall. Again, you aren’t fooling anyone.
- Avoid office gossip. Sure, talking about other people is fun and we all do it, but it’s really not appropriate in the workplace. You can almost guarantee that whatever you say about someone else at work will get back to them.
- Don’t become Facebook friends with your co-workers. Especially not your boss. Personal life should stay separate from work life, and your manager doesn’t need to see your weekend check-in’s at the bar. And certainly not the pictures that go along with it. Do you really want him/her bringing that up and then telling you what their favorite body shots are on Monday morning? I didn’t think so.
The message is pretty simple: just use some common sense, people. And in case you’re wondering… yes, I have observed all of these behaviors (and then some) at my various places of work throughout the years.
What are some of your basic rules for office etiquette?