Whether you’re working in a warehouse or spending more than eight hours behind a desk, there are some basic workplace etiquette rules that we all need to follow if we consider ourselves responsible adults and employees. While your boss might show up at work wearing a plain T-shirt and some ripped jeans or your office is hosting the occasional happy hour, that doesn’t mean you’re not required to stick to a certain pinch of etiquette when you get back to the office.
If you want to advance in your career or simply get along with your coworkers and not get called in by HR, it might be a good idea to memorize these things you should never ever do at work. On that note, see also The Best and Worst States to Work from Home.
Drink too much alcohol
Just because your office offers a keg fridge full of free beers besides the regular coffee or holds the occasional happy hours, it doesn’t mean you should indulge more than you should. It’s part of office American tradition to socialize with colleagues over a drink but getting wasted and showing your colleagues another side of you will only make things awkward from that moment on.
“I think you have to be very careful. If you know what you can tolerate, don’t go above that,” suggests career counselor and coach Lynn Berger.
Fight over the phone
We all go through unpleasant situations that affect us in more ways than one. It can be difficult to separate our personal lives from our working ones, but it’s ultimately in our own interest.
A fight with your partner is not a good enough excuse to miss work the next day. More than that, your relationship drama should not be continued at work, and certainly not discussed over the phone, in front of your entire department. Apart from disclosing intimate details of your life, you are also making your colleagues feel uncomfortable for witnessing your personal turmoils. Not to mention that the bosses will not think highly of you for wasting their company’s time and money. These Tips Will Help You Stay Positive at Work, no matter what happens inside or outside the office!
Office life can be stressful and demanding and working with other people is not always easy. Some of your colleagues might make you want to bang your head against the wall sometimes, or worse. But no matter how angry, frustrated or annoyed you are, don’t turn into the office Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and start yelling every time something irritates you.
If you feel like you are losing your temper, excuse yourself and go outside until your anger subsides and you regain control. Remember, nothing positive can be accomplished by screaming and shouting at people. Speaking of mistakes, here are The WORST Mistakes You Need to Stop Making By Age 40.
Help yourself with office supplies
It’s not unusual to find out you’ve mistakenly put a pen from the office in your bag, after using it to sign some documents. What’s unusual, or should we say unethical, is taking office supplies for home use. Even if the office supply cabinet is overflowing with sticky note pads, pens, staplers and the like, the fact that you’re taking something without permission is still called stealing.
What would your boss think about your sticky fingers? Nothing good, that’s for sure!
Disclose overly personal details about your life
It’s normal to have conversations with your co-workers about your life, tell them childhood stories, skiting about your kids’ achievements or criticizing your spouse. What’s not normal, according to most HR specialists, is having no filter when it comes to intimate details such as your sex life or your medical problems.
“In business, you should place limits on sharing your whole self,” says Dr. Horsham-Brathwaite. “Bring yourself, but not your full, unedited self. No one needs to know how hungover you are on Monday morning.”
Badmouth your coworkers
We all know office life is not always rainbows and unicorns. You can have all sorts of disagreements with your coworkers on controversial topics such as air conditioning or office lighting. You might even have a coworker that you can’t stand at all, one who ruins your mood every time he/she opens their mouth.
However, no matter how hard it is to work with that person, it’s never a good idea to vent about it the rest of your colleagues. It shows that you are not a team player and want to look better by criticizing others. Badmouthing is especially off-limits if that person is your boss.
If you think something’s wrong at work, check out these 16 Signs It’s Time to Quit Your Current Job and Find a New One.
Give creepy compliments
Just like talking trash about your coworkers is a major office faux pas, giving creepy compliments about someone’s body or sex appeal can give off the wrong vibes. Not to mention it’s totally unprofessional. To avoid being considered the office perv, stick to compliments that show you value and appreciate someone’s work such as “Congratulations on that promotion!” or a simple “I like your new haircut”. Other than that? Iffy!
Dress too casually
Sorry to break it to you, but you’re not Mark Zuckerberg. If he can pull it off wearing a casual T-shirt, it doesn’t mean it’s ok for you to come to the office wearing ripped jeans and a hoodie. Even if your workplace might promote a casual attire, “your clothing still needs to be very neat and appropriate,” says Berger. “You don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself. If you’re questioning it yourself, it’s probably not worth wearing.”
Listen to music without headphones
Many people listen to music while working, and it’s actually not a bad thing. In fact, research shows that certain types of music can increase productivity and mental performance.
However, if you want to be more productive at work, listening to music without headphones is not the best way to do it. Besides forcing your colleagues to listen to your playlist, you might also disturb them and affect their own productivity. On the other hand, don’t go overboard with keeping your headphones on an entire day. “You might be tuning out the noise, but it can also be seen as antisocial behavior,” says Berger.
You might also like This Is How to Stop Taking Things Personally at Work.
Disclose company secrets
One of the biggest mistakes that could get you fired in no time is disclosing company secrets. Did you hear your manager speak about a new project? An important merger that could change the company’s position on the market? Don’t go around spilling the beans to just about anyone who has ears to listen. You can never know what someone else might do with that piece of information so just keep it to yourself.
Eat pungent food
You may not always have time to go on a lunch break so eating at your desk is the only alternative. Hey, you might even like bringing your own food. But unless you want your colleagues to hate you forever, you might want to refrain from bringing pungent foods to the workplace. There are only a few things more disruptive than microwaved fish or boiled eggs. An office is not a restaurant, so it should be aroma-free, to put it mildly. This doesn’t mean you should skip lunch altogether but be more considerate of your coworkers and keep smelly foods away from your desk.
Pungent food can be a smelly distraction but check out these 11 Surprising Reasons Why You Lose Focus at Work!
Eat your coworker’s lunch
Speaking of eating, just because you find something yummy in the office fridge, doesn’t mean it’s up for grabs. Someone left it there for a reason and that reason is definitely not to satisfy your hunger. There’s a certain work fridge etiquette and taking one of your coworkers’ lunch, even if not on purpose, is rude, petty, and much like with the office supplies, stealing. Next time you think of taking something that’s not yours, think about how you would feel if you found your lunch mysteriously gone and no money to buy something else.
Waste your time on social media
According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of employees admitted to spending time on social media despite the company policy. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from time to time and unwinding on Facebook and Twitter or scrolling for inspiration. But when that time adds up and the number of hours you spend on social media exceeds the number of hours you put into the actual work, then you’ve got a problem.
No company likes to pay its employees for giving likes and leaving comments on Facebook when they should be finishing their tasks instead. To help you out, here are 11 Effective Time Management Tips to Boost Productivity.
Send personal emails from your work account
Most people have a personal email address and an work-related one, so there’s really no point in mixing the two of them. Keep it professional and avoid sending private emails from your work email address, especially if it’s against company policy.
If you insist on doing it, you should know chances are you’re not the only one with access to those emails. The HR or IT departments of most companies monitor and even read emails sent from their employees’ professional email addresses. So, if you don’t want everyone to know your personal business, better leave your office mail out of the equation. That being said, check out 16 Seemingly Harmless Things You Need to Stop Doing on Your Computer.
Religion has always been a sensitive topic, no matter the environment it is discussed in. When it comes to the workplace, it’s better to keep your religious idea to yourself. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with telling your coworker more about your religion or about a religious holiday you’re celebrating. Asking them to give blessings for a meal during lunch break? Not so much. Preaching and recruiting at your workplace is hardly appropriate, not to mention, extremely unprofessional.
Although politics is not such a sensitive topic as religion, it’s still something very personal and can go from a casual discussion to a full-blown argument. Politics is something most people treat very seriously and no matter how much you try to influence them, they will not change their minds.
So, instead of discussing touchy political subjects that may end up ruining your relationship with some of your coworkers, avoid the topic of politics altogether. After all, you wouldn’t like someone with more conservative or liberal views to harass you and try to convince you that their way is better than yours, would you?
Initiate uninvited physical contact
You might be a hugger but others might not welcome your overly friendly attitude as much as you think. Whether it’s a hug, a back rub or a discreet touch of someone’s shoulder, unwanted physical contact is never a good idea, even if you see it as something innocent. What one person sees as being a friendly and innocent gesture, another person might see it as awkward and downright inappropriate. You don’t want to be misinterpreted and avoided in the future for your seemingly inappropriate gestures.
Blame coworkers for your mistakes
It’s never easy to accept you’re at fault, no matter how old and experienced you are. But taking responsibility for your mistakes just shows that you are trustworthy and mature. Blaming others, on the other hand, especially at work, is a clear sign you still have some work to do on yourself, as a person and as an employee.
If you want to avoid losing the respect of your coworkers, or worse, being fired, own your mistakes and don’t lay the blame on others. That way, you’ll be able to learn from your mistakes and feel better about yourself in the long term.