1 Workplace Etiquette. 2 Objectives To define workplace etiquette and stress the importance of...
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To define workplace etiquette and stress the importance of creating a work environment conducive to positive interaction among employees
To identify behaviors considered important for maintaining workplace etiquette
To develop skills in addressing coworkers’ behaviors that are unpleasant, rude or offensive
Etiquette: Some Definitions
“The practices and forms prescribed by social convention or by authority.”(The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition).
“Rules governing socially acceptable behavior.”(WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University)
How Do You Score?
1. I say “good morning” to co-workers when I enter the office each morning.
2. I clean up after I use the kitchen, cafeteria or snack area.
3. I say “thank you” when someone does something nice for me.
4. I arrive on time for meetings.
5. I keep my anger under control.
6. I think it’s okay to tell jokes about race or sex as long as they are tasteful.
7. I think it’s okay to “drop in” on co-workers if I feel I have something I want to tell or ask them.
8. If I send an email message, I make sure that it is relevant, appropriate, clear, and checked for spelling and grammatical errors.
9. I am respectful of co-workers’ workspace, e.g., not using their desks or computer, separating my belongings from theirs.
10. I make promises to others that I am unable to keep.
Q 1-5: 1 point for True; 0 for False
Q 6, 7: 1 point for False; 0 for True
Q 8, 9: 1 point for True; 0 for False
Q 10: 1 point for False; 0 for True
0-5 Uh oh, it’s time for charm school. Seriously, you seem to be committing a number of etiquette faux pas. Hasn’t anyone
said anything to you about your behavior? If you keep it up, your career is probably going nowhere (and you may not have a job).
6-8 Not bad. You seem to have your office manners mostly in control. But don’t stop here—take a look at areas you can improve upon and you should see your career rolling
9-10 Congratulations! You are probably one of those people described as “a pleasure to work with.” Your mannerly behavior and sensitivity to others should move you far along on the road to success.
What Bothers You the Most?
Employees Are Bothered by Co-workers Who:
Have poor personal hygiene Leave old and/or spoiled food in the refrigerator Don’t clean up after using the office kitchen, sink, restroom or
appliances Leave trash or personal belongings in other people’s work spaces Don’t follow through when they say they will do something Don’t acknowledge you unless you speak to them directly Use language that is overly familiar, e.g., calling you “honey” or
“dear” Wear clothing that is dirty, too casual, too seductive or distracting in
some other way Flirt with coworkers, vendors or customers Wear too much perfume or after-shave
Drop in on you while you are working and don’t ask if it’s okay to interrupt
Habitually arrive late at meetings Gossip Have outbursts of anger or yell and curse Say negative things about other employees behind their backs Brag Talk too much about their personal lives Speak too loudly on the telephone Eat food at their desks that has a strong smell Tell jokes that involve race, gender, sexual orientation. religion,
ethnicity or national origin
Are too “touchy feely” Invade your personal space Send sloppy email messages Borrow things but forget to return them Play music in their cubicle that others can hear Forget to return the restroom key or put it in the wrong place
(or even take it home by mistake) Don’t say “thank you” Waste your time Don’t return phone calls
Keep asking you the same questions even though you have given them answers previously
Start meetings late and/or don’t end them on time Don’t pick up their completed copies from the copy room or pick up
pages they have sent to the printer. Don’t check faxes or copies they have made to make sure that all
the pages are theirs Carry on loud conversations outside of your office or cubicle Borrow money and forget to return it Frequently complain and/or criticize others Block walkways or doorways when carrying on conversations Don’t pay attention when you are speaking to them
Keep you waiting Leave you voice mail messages that are difficult to
understand (in particular, those who say their phone numbers so quickly you have to listen three times to get them right)
Use emoticons (those little faces that express an emotion) in office email
Leave the coffee pot empty Forward you on email everything they think is interesting
without asking you if you want to get this information
A few employees who speak a language other than English sometimes communicate with one another in that language in your workplace. Some employees think this is fine and none of their business. Other employees feel uncomfortable and left out when in the presence of these employees. What do you think? Does workplace etiquette demand that employees should always speak in a language that everyone can understand?
Helen, a new employee, shares a cubicle with Dorothy, a long-time employee of the company. Dorothy had the cubicle to herself for quite a long time and had been using the whole space as if it were hers. When Helen first moved in, Dorothy cleared off the second desk area. As time passes, however, she has been slowly taking over more and more of Helen’s space. Helen now feels that she is working in Dorothy’s cubicle, not a shared cubicle. Helen has made a few comments like, “Gee, it’s getting cramped in here,” but Dorothy either doesn’t get the point or doesn’t want to. What should Helen do now?
John’s co-worker in the next cubicle has a habit of constantly clearing his throat, snorting and making other unpleasant sounds. John has tried to ignore this behavior, but finds it extremely distracting. Should John just work harder to ignore this behavior (he wonders if perhaps the coworker has some health problem that is causing this); counter-attack by making equally unpleasant noises; speak to the co-worker; or go directly to HR to complain?
Your office has provided a spacious kitchen with a large refrigerator, a microwave and a coffee maker. Most of the employees using this space are respectful of others—i.e., they clean up after themselves, remove old food from the refrigerator and make a new pot of coffee when the pot is empty. Unfortunately, there are a few employees who are discourteous and careless. The behavior of this small group has led to both resentment among their tidier coworkers and annoyance that everyone else has to pick up after them. What should be done to improve this situation?
Some Final Thoughts
You don’t have to read Miss Manners to learn how to have good manners. Workplace etiquette makes the work environment respectful, pleasant, and productive.