Office etiquette rules

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office etiquette
Mind your Ps and Qs at the office
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Office etiquette rules are very important so don't dismiss them

Before you can figure out the office etiquette rules you need to know what it means.

Etiquette is the expected code of polite behavior among members of a group or profession or in society.

Polite workplace behavior is what is considered appropriate behavior. You don't want to stick your foot in your mouth the first day on a new job. After you are hired, ask the HR manager for a company handbook you can read. The 'rules' should be in the handbook.

Things to keep in mind

  •     If an office door is closed, do not barge in unannounced. Knock first. It doesn't matter if the occupant of the office is your best work buddy. Still knock.
  •     Rein in the colorful language. Do not curse. It happens occasionally but certainly do not make a habit of it. Some co-workers, bosses and clients may not mind the infrequent curse word but some may be horribly offended by bad language.

  •     Be on time. Don't keep people waiting. If you show up late for a meeting, sit down and shut up. Do not expect the meeting leader to recap for you. Keeping people waiting or barging in after a meeting has already started equals bad form. Your time is no more valuable than anyone else's.
  •     Be very careful how you use email. Once sent, an email is gone. Do not shoot from the hip and send a regrettable email in the heat of the moment. The company may have strict policies prohibiting personal emails from being sent from work computers. Know the rules and abide by them.
  •     Be careful about surfing the net while on the time clock. Your computer and Internet activities may be monitored. Do not send stupid or offensive emails to co-workers. Do not engage in any inappropriate activities on your work computer. These behaviors can get you in hot water and possibly fired.
  •     Dress appropriately. When interviewing for a position, observe what the other employees are wearing and, if hired, do likewise. Ask the HR person if there is a specific dress code. Some companies disallow open-toe shoes, demand hosiery is worn and require ornamentation (piercings and tattoos) are covered up during work hours. If hired and you show up dressed like you just left a heavy metal concert, your days at this job are probably numbered. Wardrobe etiquette is extremely important in the professional world.
  •     Do not come into the workplace and announce to everyone you just vomited, started your period, the rabbit died or you had a fight with your significant other. Keep a lid on personal matters. Sure, you can share these tidbits with your best office friend over lunch but not everyone needs to know, nor do they want to know.
  •     Treat your coworkers respectfully. If problems arise between you and another person, deal with them privately. If the problems can't be resolved between the two of you, if necessary bring it to the attention of your boss or manager but only if it is a serious, work-related issue and not some silly spat. Do not, under any circumstances, engage in a verbal free-for-all in front of other workers, clients or customers.
  •     Do not make or receive personal phone calls while on the clock. If you do, be very discreet.. When people move around an office with a cell phone attached to their ear, loudly chatting to their mother or daughter, they don't realize, or care, how disruptive and annoying this is to other people.
  •     Do not use a speaker phone unless you have informed the caller he is on speaker phone. Everyone in the room can hear what the caller says when the speaker is used. Sometimes this is the whole point of using this system. Other times, the caller may not be aware 10 people are listening to him talk. This is bad form.

Specific office etiquette rules depend on the place you are working. Make sure you know what they are so you don't unintentionally violate them. Having good manners should be a way of life. Be nice, kind, patient and courteous at work. Or at least try to be.

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