Life is not a sitcom.
When we go to work, we are not checking in on the set of The Office, or Mad Men, or Parks and Recreation. If life were a sitcom, the inappropriate things some of us say and do at work would be OK. But this is reality. We don’t get to take our makeup off and step out of character. In real life, we have to come back to work, day after day, as ourselves, and face the coworkers who we may have offended or annoyed just the day before.
Sometimes work place etiquette is fuzzy. People are different, born into different cultures, subscribe to different values and have different personalities. This is diversity that should be welcomed and embraced in the workplace. I am not suggesting that everyone in the workplace behave the exact same way. I am suggesting that we all be more aware of our actions and how they may affect others. What impression are you making each day? What is your workplace brand? These tips below will help make sure that your reputation and relationship-building stay in tip-top shape.
- AVOID GOSSIP.
Sigh. This topic. Again.
In general, gossip is bad. But at work, it’s even worse. Successful, productive people don’t spend much time entertaining gossip because they are too busy making moves, and making an impact. Think about it – when you look around your office, who are the gossipers? Are they the ones doing good work, getting recognized and getting promoted? Sometimes yes, but usually, no.
When I started this list of workplace etiquette blunders, gossip was the first thing that came to mind. No surprise there. Survey after survey places gossip at the top of the list of peoples’ workplace pet peeves. With that many people against it, why is it so prevalent in the workplace? One reason may be because oftentimes there are one or two gossip ring leaders, and a whole group of people who go along with it just to go along and not make any waves. Don’t be the “go-alonger.” Make waves by not participating. Eventually people will notice that when the gossip begins, your participation ends, and they will stop coming to you with it. Do know that you may be less liked by some for your lack of participation in their gossip fest – but that is OK.
2. RECOGNIZE WHEN PEOPLE WANT THEIR SPACE.
Recognize when people are not in the mood for talking. If they constantly glance away from you, back into their book or magazine, that’s a clear sign. If they are ON THE PHONE, that is a CLEAR sign.
3. TALK LESS.
In meetings, be aware of who is talking the most, and who has yet to utter a word. If you notice that you’ve done all or most of the talking, take a step back and give others a chance to participate.
During one-on-one conversations, practice active listening to fully absorb what the other person is saying. You’ve probably heard that most of us “listen to respond” instead of “listening to understand.” This is true. Oftentimes we are so focused on saying the right thing or the smart thing that we’re twenty steps ahead trying to craft a response.
4. DON’T OVERSHARE.
I once had a coworker casually reveal to me that she had an STD. Outside of that, I knew nothing else about her. We were on our very first lunch outing.
While you may be proud of your life (you should be), and you may believe that honesty is the best policy, there are some things you should keep to yourself or wait longer to reveal at work. As proud as you are, sharing personal details make many people feel uncomfortable, which in turn may cause them to avoid you.
Besides, you want to be known for your stellar work, not for your juicy stories
5. DON’T BE EMOTIONALLY DISCONNECTED.
We get it. You’re busy. There’s so much going on, right? But you should never be too busy to exchange a “hello” or “good morning.” That stack of paper your head is always buried in won’t go anywhere if you look up to acknowledge your coworker or – God forbid – engage in a short conversation with them.
Or perhaps you are a private person who likes to keep work peers at an arm’s length. In this case you should select a couple of topics that you deem to be safe topics to discuss. Make it seem personal without it really being anything too deep.
The more disconnected you are from people, the more disconnected they will be toward you. You may prefer it that way most of the time, but one day you’ll look up and realize you have no one to swap a joke with or even run a workplace challenge by. This is not a good position to be in.
When I started this list it quickly grew to 30+ items. In the interest of keeping it short I chose to share the first five on my list. I will share more in the future, but in the meantime, feel free to add your own workplace pet peeves or etiquette tips in the comment section.
Cheers! Let’s keep it classy.