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Office Etiquette and Manners at Work

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Common Courtesy at Work

Office etiquette and good manners are an afterthought to some people. Sometimes it seems like people have forgotten how to treat each other in a professional setting. When people don’t act appropriately, it can make going to work a very uncomfortable experience. My hope is that this post will make things a little bit better.

Some people might argue that people behave differently at work than they do at home. That might be true, but I believe that there is probably a strong likelihood that anyone who acts in a crude manner at work, also acts that way in other areas of their life. Treating others correctly is an important step toward having a happier overall life.

What is expected of people at work

A brief history of the workplace
It used to be that working in an office setting meant a suit and tie for men, and a dress or business suit for ladies. There was also a certain level of proper social behavior that was expected. Some might say that these levels of formality were extreme, and to some extent, they might be correct. We have to consider though, that with an increasing informality in the workplace, a certain level of civility may have been lost. This isn’t to say that casual Fridays or regular dress down days are bad overall, but when such informality is the norm, problems sometimes arise.

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, I think that most people feel a little bit differently about themselves when they are “dressed up”. It isn’t that they actually undergo any change really, they just feel a little bit better and, for lack of a better word, professional. It doesn’t feel appropriate to use cuss words or to act in an inappropriate manner. Think of when you go out to a fancy restaurant. Don’t you notice a certain feeling present that doesn’t exist when you pop into a McDonald’s restaurant? I think that the new level of informality in dress and behavior in the workplace might be contributing to an overall drop off of overall “good” behavior on the job.

When People Ignore Office Manners

Things I’ve seen
Some of the people reading this might wonder why someone would take the time to write such a thing. The truth is, I have seen far too many etiquette mess ups in my own work environment. I find that such behavior creates an uncomfortable situation. With that said, here are a few things that bother me.

When you are introduced to someone new, you should not instantly refer to them by their first name unless they have invited you to do so. Stick with using Mr., Ms. or Mrs. as appropriate.

Please don’t groom yourself in public while you’re at work. Don’t clip your nails, pick your teeth, etc. if it can be avoided. Do such things in the restroom.

Please don’t tell us every personal detail of your life. A little bit is fine if we’re friends, but please… think before you speak.

Don’t take other people’s personal belongings. If we could, we’d all have our own offices, but when we have to share a space, we shouldn’t have to stand guard over what we brought to work with us. Come on, you know better.

What is common courtesy?

People my age were taught about common courtesy by our parentswhen we were young. I suppose that we could get into a big discussion about it, but it pretty much boils down to treating others with some respect. Don’t take things that don’t belong to you. Do your best to make a good first impression when you meet people, then do your best to convince them that their first impression about you was right.

There is a famous book about living by the same rules you learned in kindergarten. I think that is a pretty good primer for people who have no clue what common courtesy is in the workplace and in life. You know these things. If you have a conscience at all, it should be shouting at you when you are going against these common sense principles. Just listen and follow your gut instincts. They’ll usually guide you in the right direction.
Video About Common Courtesy


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