December 23, 2013
10 tips for promoting positive office etiquette
While the holidays can be a happy and enjoyable time of year, they can become stressful when employees don't follow basic office etiquette.
Why is office etiquette important? Because bad manners at work can be bad for business by negatively affecting employee morale and productivity.
To ensure a happy and productive work environment, act as a role model by demonstrating the following good manners:
• Stay at home when you're sick.
• Always show up on time for meetings. If you're always running late, try scheduling meetings in 45-minute increments to allow enough time to get to your next one.
• Keep meetings to the scheduled amount of time. Don't force the next group to stand in the hallway outside the conference room waiting for you and your group to finish.
• Avoid wearing perfume or cologne at work.
• Put your cellphone on vibrate mode to prevent disturbing others when it rings.
• Don't hold meetings in your cubicle and distract those sitting close by. For meetings with more than three people, go to a conference room and close the door.
• Eat lunch in the cafeteria or break room. Avoid eating smelly food at your desk.
• Be aware of how loudly you speak on the telephone if you work in a cubicle environment.
• Don't wear revealing clothing. Let others see your skills, not your private body parts.
• Respect your co-workers' property (and company property).
• Don't take things from others without asking. Refrigerator-lunch-food stealers, that also means you.
• Don't yell at others. Compassion and empathy will serve you much better to earn respect.
Tired of bad manners in your office? Here are tips for dealing with offenders:
• Don't reciprocate bad office behavior.
• Stay calm, and don't get emotional or angry. We all have bad days every now and then; sometimes a sympathetic comment is the best way to direct a co-worker toward better behavior.
• Meet with the person in a private location and explain how his or her bad manners are affecting you.
• Make sure you understand your company's business ethics and procedures for reporting infractions.
• If the bad behavior continues or worsens after you've spoken with the offender, seek help from your manager or human resources.
To improve company culture, don't be afraid to approach co-workers (or managers) who display bad manners at work. The worst scenario is to allow bad behavior to continue, as this can decrease employee morale and productivity. It can also send a message that this type of behavior is OK (when it isn't). So speak out -- but do so with kindness and compassion.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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