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The Ultimate Office Etiquette Guide

If you've ever been annoyed by the wacky office comedian wanting to play his new collection of stupid ringtones, welcome to the world of Office Etiquette.

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If you've ever been sat at your desk, hard at work, trying to finish your report in time for that very important meeting with the Managing Director; you'll know just how annoying it is to have the wacky office comedian come striding up to you in his Homer Simpson tie, wanting to play his new collection of stupid cell phone ringtones. Welcome to the dark and murky world of Office Etiquette.

I actually made a big etiquette faux pas at my new employer just this week. I was well-groomed, well-dressed and I was polite, pleasant and smiling as I greeted my new co-workers. But as I sat down after making myself a cup of tea, I couldn't help but notice that everyone in the office was looking at me like I'd just murdered their cat. I'd committed a cardinal office sin: never, ever make a drink just for yourself.

So how do you know what the politics of your office are? Well, like the many different cultures and societies of other countries and continents, it varies from office to office. In England you could be hung, drawn and quartered for not making a round of tea for your colleagues. In Russia however, they'd be more upset if you forgot to slip a drop of vodka into their brew. For this very reason, we've created The Ultimate Office Etiquette Guide so that you never again make the mistake of taking a stapler without first asking for permission!

General Office Etiquette

While different offices have different policies, there are a few universal truths about etiquette that you need to be aware of at all times.

    Ask before you borrow anything. There's nothing worse than being branded the office thief because your stash of 'borrowed' rulers is discovered by the cleaning lady.

    Wash your mugs after you've used them. If you expect the cleaners to wash up for you, you're going to be in for a big surprise. You might find your mug covered in mold and thick, congealed milk floating around the bottom. Clean it yourself.

    Any release of bodily gases is highly frowned upon. Farting may have been okay back in High School, but you won't be taken seriously if you perform a rendition of Flight Of The Bumble Bee through your ass.

    Don't fall asleep at your desk. And if you do, make sure you're at a desk that faces away from everyone else and you don't snore.

    Open doors for your colleagues. You won't do yourself any favors by letting the door close on the geeky guy from I.T while he's carrying a computer tower and monitor into the office.

Colleague Relationships

It's important to always be respectful of your colleagues and avoid burning your bridges with them. You never know when you may rely on their help to get you out of a tricky jam. Here are a few things you should be aware of:

    There's nothing more annoying that a ringing phone that goes unanswered. If you don't want to answer your phone put it on silent or divert calls to your answerphone. Also, keep your cell phone on vibrate because if I hear another rendition of the Crazy Frog ring tone, I will kill someone.

    Office politics is unavoidable. Don't let people undermine you or draw you into arguments. Let your achievements do the talking for you and make sure that the right people are aware of what you have accomplished without you needing to brag about it.

    If you're going to take lunch at your desk, keep it simple. A sandwich is best. Don't go bringing in a homemade spicy chicken and pasta dish that's going to stink up the office and annoy people. On the lunch subject, make sure you don't disturb people with work-related problems when they're on their lunch. They won't thank you for it and you'll be repaid in kind at a later date.

    Always offer to make tea and coffee for your colleagues. If you don't chip in and help out with drink rounds and buying in the milk, you may find that your "World's Best Guy" mug mysteriously disappears, never to be seen again. You'll also be seen as the cheapskate who won't stump up for a bottle of milk. Evil eyes and anonymous hate e-mail will surely ensue.

    If you really must have sex with the insanely hot girl in Accounts; be a gentleman. If you love her and leave her, you better believe the office will be rife with talk about your lack of stamina and 'pinky' sized penis. You'll look unprofessional to your bosses and, worse still, when an even hotter girl joins the Sales team, she'll know about your indiscretions almost immediately and you'll never have a chance with her.

Verbal Communication

The way you communicate with fellow employees is very important to your career. Get it wrong and you'll be cast out into the abyss and moved to the office in the basement with no windows or heating. Here's what you need to know about verbal office etiquette.

    Although you may hate the idea of being formal, it is a necessity in the workplace. You'll be speaking to people you've never met before, customers, other departments and so on. Answering the phone, "Yo, 'sup homie?" just isn't going to cut it in the business world.

    If someone gives you their name, remember it. Especially if you're in a role where clients regularly come to the office. Using their name to address them throughout the meeting makes it more personalized and makes them feel more relaxed and willing to engage in conversation with you.

    Leave the bad habits at home. Don't swear and don't chew gum when speaking to someone. Even over the phone. They can hear it and it is annoying.

    Make sure you listen when people are speaking to you. Looking around and wondering what time you're meeting the guys in the bar later while your boss briefs you on a new campaign is poor form and when you can't remember what he's said, you'll look incompetent and unprofessional.

    Over time you can reduce the formality, but for an initial meeting play it safe and keep conversation solely on work matters. You don't want to be telling the I.T. Manager about the bedroom antics of the hot girl in Accounts.

    End your meeting with a hearty handshake, thank them for their time and exchange business cards if necessary.

Outside the office

Office etiquette extends beyond the walls of your workplace and into any venue that involves work. This is where it gets tricky because, as they say, you should never mix business with pleasure. Apparently.

    If you've got a business lunch, then get there on time. Leave early if you need to but do not be late because it isn't a lunch per s?, it's a meeting in an informal location.

    Turn your phone off during any business lunch you go to. Nobody wants to look inconsiderate while taking a call during an important meeting.

    Keep your greeting short and sweet with the aforementioned handshake. Proper business meeting etiquette allows for a few minutes of small talk but keep it simple. The weather, the latest football results and so on.

    If you invited your guest to the lunch, you're the one who should be paying for the meal. You can of course discuss splitting the bill when arranging the meeting but don't leave it till the bill arrives as some people see this as a sign of professional weakness. Don't forget to tip the restaurant staff.

    When networking at business conferences you should make the first move to approach people wherever possible. Remember that first impressions count so dress to impress and keep the conversation formal.

    You can build your business contacts by networking with the speakers at conferences. Do your research and find out who is speaking and what they are about. This will give you some good topics to discuss with them if you get the chance.

    Set yourself a target to meet during a conference. Say, five new contacts through networking. Using the amazing etiquette tips you've learnt so far, it should be easy.

    Don't get too drunk at the office party! How many people have lost respect, pay rises and even their job from drunken antics over the years. Keep your alcohol consumption in moderation and avoid fornicating with the boss' wife wherever possible.

    Don't moan and complain about the lack of direction in the business while enjoying a cocktail with the girl from Accounts. It will inevitably get back to someone senior and you'll be the guy who cleans the toilets for the next 30 years.

On top of these tips, you'll need to be aware of the following as well:

    There is always a 'mother' figure in the office who will sort out birthdays, collections and the office milk fund. When she asks for a donation to Jeff in Marketing who is leaving for pastures new, don't make the mistake of thinking the donation is voluntary. If you don't put a bit of money in there you can forget about ever getting a collection yourself and you will be branded as the office Scrooge for the rest of your professional career.

    Most offices have some sort of Friday 'ritual'. One office I worked in had a dress-down Friday where everyone came in jeans and t-shirt. The first time someone told me, I thought it was a hazing thing and so turned up on the Friday suited and booted as usual. Imagine my surprise when I saw the MD waltz into the office wearing a Nike tracksuit with matching sweatbands. Find out if your office has a Friday ritual so you don't look a fool like I did. (Or was it the MD that looked the fool?)

Office etiquette is basically about communicating with people in a professional and formal environment. When it comes down to it, it's about making the right impression and every office has a different environment and structure. If you have any thoughts and ideas on office etiquette, tips and tricks for business meetings or not getting too drunk at the Christmas party then leave a comment for everyone else to learn from. This guide will only become truly Ultimate when the community of readers have put across their thoughts.

Nice content. Good tips on

Nice content. Good tips on how to behave on the office :)

http://dudeindebt.com/

I think you have it right

I think you have it right about having sex with coworkers. What is the saying...don't dip your quill in company ink. Yet another great article.

That's why I cant work in an

That's why I cant work in an office, so many rules and codes to go by..
I can relate to those who gets a nervous crackdown after 10-25 years in the same office.

You might add - don't eat

You might add - don't eat smelly food and make sure that you don't smell.

Typo: "There?s nothing more

Typo:
"There?s nothing more annoying that"

Thanks a lotttt !!!!!!!! I

Thanks a lotttt !!!!!!!!
I really needed this.

I would like to read more of similar articles.

I agree with most except one.

I agree with most except one.

I somewhat agree with the one about "informal greetings."

I am Brazilian-born, but US-raised and about a year ago I recently began working in the capital markets here in Sao Paulo.

Having lived in Rio de Janeiro in 2002, I had habituated to "e a?, beleza?" which translates loosely to "so, what's up?"

I was aware of its informality to a degree, but as a foreigner, I could get away with it.

Today's it's become my catch phrase at the office with even the CEO/President using it. It's helped lighten up the mood around the office a lot. And there are few industries that need to lighten up and relax more than banking and finance.

In sum, you need to learn how to be disarming with the right people and slowly build up. People who can't relax and insist on being overly formal at work can be as bad if not worse than someone that is too relaxed. It's all about trust and rapport. I think you'll find that younger executives are used to playing both fields so that when you come across one of them, being informal is a way to build rapport, because that young executive finds it to be a welcome relief to the constant formality he or she experiences with older executives.

Here's another one:

Don't be the office mooch. Where I work, I am more than happy to bring in gum, fruit, etc and share it with my co-workers, however it really irks me when some co-workers mooch like heck and never bring in food, snacks, gum, etc and share as well.

[...] to write up all the

[...] to write up all the tiny details of office etiquette at my job, I doubt I could keep it this short.read more | digg [...]

Great article. I have to say

Great article. I have to say I am/was guilty of 3 of the things you mentioned. In my office we have this guy/suck up who cc's the boss in every e-mail he sends to anyone. And I do mean every email. It annoys the hell out of everyone and doesn't seem like a good career move to me further down the line.

Out with colleagues - buy

Out with colleagues - buy your boss a drink (shot?) or two. S/he will probably be buying a few rounds for everyone including you anyway. And you're always allowed to get as drunk as your boss.

When doing business with

When doing business with people from East Asia, exchanging business cards in an important business ritual. Present your card to them, face up and facing them, holding it with both of your hands in the corners. When you receive theirs, spend at least 15 seconds studying it, or at least seeming to.

That whole "if you invite

That whole "if you invite someone to lunch you should pay" point is stupid no matter what we are talking about. It doesn't automatically fall on you to pay for food when you ask someone to eat with you. I don't know what kind of idiot thought that up and spread it around, but he or she needs to get a good smack in the face. I don't even care if you are inviting your girlfriend out to eat, it doesn't always mean you have to pay. Should you pay ever single time your girlfriend eats in your presence? Hell no. Sure it's nice and you should from time to time, but who can afford it every time you're expected to when you ask someone to eat with you?

[...] I’m not going to recap

[...] I’m not going to recap the article I found this morning on office etiquette from JustAGuyThing... [...]

Dang, I thought there'd be

Dang, I thought there'd be some humor here.

On the flip side - here are some tips from me on office survival.

1. Always know who in the office keeps bottled water or soda you can steal

2. If you get a package full of packing peanuts, it's always funny to put them in someone else's desk drawer.

3. Leave M&Ms in hard to reach places on the floor in someone else's office so the cleaners see it, realize it was put there on purpose to see if they clean it up, then they'll do all sorts of unmentionable things to said colleague's writing utensils they like to stick in their mouth.

4. Learn how to look mean on the first day of the job, that way people are less apt to bother you while you're playing Line Rider.

5. It's OK to clean out your pantry and fridge and bring it to the office. Someone will eat it. They always eat it. ALWAYS.

6. Java based games are made for the office.

7. Porn is ok if it is emailed. Just make sure to send a copy to the boss.

8. HR is the enemy. Get dirt on them as soon as possible. If you go down, take them with you. Show no mercy.

9. Take lessons from Sawyer on Lost - learn the fine art of nick naming. If you don't the former Jock turned annoying salesperson of the year will surely be keen on this ability.

10. Act and say crazy things every now and then. It'll make them afraid, very afraid.

BONUS: Bookmark fun blogs like this one and this one: http://www.comember.net/blogs/firepixel/

It makes the day go faster!

IMHO, when in doubt about

IMHO, when in doubt about office etiquette, it's probably best to err on the side of "too formal" rather than engender a chummy attitude. This includes face to face encounters as well as any written correspondence as well. Make sure you check e-mails for spelling or grammatical errors even if it's just a quick response to a memo. Your sincerity will show through. If you're being too formal, it'll be easier to tone it down than being too informal and then having to ratchet it up later.

Awesome article Christian. It

Awesome article Christian. It would have been good if I read this a few years back when I started the job I am in as I learned some of this stuff the hard way but things are slowly getting better now.

Andre
(geeky IT guy :))

don't poop in the office

don't poop in the office restroom. everyone will know it was you and what you ate for lunch. go to another floor, or find a local restaurant.

The milk and tea thing must

The milk and tea thing must be British. The comparable custom would be
the coffee club for us Amurikans. Otherwise, spot on advice.

[...] The Ultimate Office

[...] The Ultimate Office Etiquette Guide | Just A Guy Thing While different offices have different policies, there are a few universal truths about etiquette that you need to be aware of at all times… (tags: etiquette office work manners guide tips business lifehack) [...]

[...]

[...] http://www.justaguything.com/the-ultimate-office-etiquette-guide/ [...]

[...] The Ultimate Office

[...] The Ultimate Office Etiquette Guide | Just A Guy Thing (tags: etiquette office work manners guide tips business) [...]

Again another good

Again another good article...
nice work keep goin!
maXim

god, I'm glad I'm not a

god, I'm glad I'm not a cubicle-hamster. How can people live like this???

What if I don't drink tea or

What if I don't drink tea or coffee? I don't want to be stuck paying for foods/drinks that I'm not eating/drinking.

Good advice. I know a few

Good advice. I know a few graduates who would benefit from this article!

I do not want that my tea or

I do not want that my tea or coffee is made for me by someone. Please. Not after what I saw on TV when they filmed with the hidden camera what a disgruntled employee did at the office kitchen with the coffee machine and kettle.

I drink tea or coffee only fresh made from a tap water or sealed bottle in my presence.

Or made in a neutral environment of a cafe or canteen.

[...] How should you behave

[...] How should you behave at your office and what kind of behavior should you avoid? Check out “… The Ultimate Office Etiquette Guide so that you never again make the mistake of taking a stapler without first asking for permission!”Now, if I had to write up all the tiny details of office etiquette at my job, I doubt I could keep it this short.http://www.justaguything.com/the-ultimate-office-etiquette-guide/ [...]

[...] you! home | incoming

[...] you! home | incoming hURRLs | FAQ | download Voila, the hURRL you reqested ...1 hURRLs - The Ultimate Office Etiquette Guide | Just A Guy Thing (first hURRLed by fyrenda @ 4 days ago /// permalink) fyrenda says:""A sandwich is best. [...]

[...] -The Ultimate Office

[...] -The Ultimate Office Etiquette Guide If you?ve ever been sat at your desk, hard at work, trying to finish your report in time for that very important meeting with the Managing Director; you?ll know just how annoying it is to have the wacky office comedian come striding up to you in his Homer Simpson tie, wanting to play his new collection of stupid cell phone ringtones. Welcome to the dark and murky world of Office Etiquette. You Might Also Like: [...]

[...] to write up all the

[...] to write up all the tiny details of office etiquette at my job, I doubt I could keep it this short.read more | digg story in Digg. Feed for this Entry Trackback [...]

The author sounds like a

The author sounds like a bitter asshole.

[...] wanting to play his new

[...] wanting to play his new collection of stupid ringtones, welcome to the world of office Etiquette.http://www.justaguything.com/the-ultimate-office-etiquette-guide/Your ABA: Office Etiquette EssentialsAmerican Bar Association - legal resources, member information, [...]

Rimsky went the dazzlingly

Rimsky went the dazzlingly buy cytotec dead hand held.

You should never smoke a

You should never smoke a cigarette or a cigar in a cubicle. Many people are allergic to smoke and second hand smoke is a silent killer. If you feel you can?t wait to have one, it is polite to crunch one up and chew on it.

Great article

Great article

Is it proper for a supervisor

Is it proper for a supervisor to sit back in his chair, feet crossed on desk top, talking? I have a boss that does this and it's totally unprofessional to me

Linda, that's a classic power

Linda, that's a classic power play. By putting his feet up he's essentially dismissing you and your status. Probably not much you can do about it since he's your boss, but try not to let it get to you. Remember that people who need to assert their power like that are really quite insecure underneath.

[...] [upmod]

[...] [upmod] [downmod] The Ultimate Office Etiquette Guide | Just A Guy Thing (www.justaguything.com) 0 points posted 1 year, 2 months ago by thilak tags imported saved [...]

Let's be careful not to

Let's be careful not to assume "Mother Figures," shall we?

Don't forget to be

Don't forget to be considerate and make a fresh cup of coffee when you take the last sip...don't be THAT guy/gal. You may run into one of these: http://www.substandardscompliant.com/comicstrips/no-15-office-monsters

Speaking about washing out

Speaking about washing out your mug when you use it...I am very guilty of this...check out this comic strip regarding that very issue: http://www.substandardscompliant.com/comicstrips/no-16-office-decor

Interesting "Guy's" take once

Interesting "Guy's" take once again. The HOT GIRL in accounts and the MOTHER FIGURE. I hope you could teach your readers not to assume that women are for play or coddling in the office but I know this reads well with the culture of male bias in the work place.

Other than that, I did like the points you covered. I think you could have a better way to address treating the women in the office with more respect than you did in this article.

hahahhahahahahah... :D nice

hahahhahahahahah... :D nice one.. i like it!

[...] poco de humor (o no)

[...] poco de humor (o no) acerca de la etiqueta de oficina Gracias a Unblogged llegué a este blog americano sobre todo un poco, y que tiene una divertida mirada acerca de cómo los hombres tendrían que [...]

to add: 1. do not clip your

to add:
1. do not clip your nails at work, no one wants to hear the sound of your grooming in a silent office for 10 minutes every Thursday afternoon because you have nothing left to do.

2. if you need to speak to someone who looks like they are busy, do not hover or wait until they acknowledge you. it's not polite, it's ANNOYING. say 'excuse me', or 'i'm sorry to bother you, but...'

3. don't do jobs that don't belong to you. doing some one else's job is undermining and makes it looks like you think they're incompetent.

There are actually loads of

There are actually loads of details like that to take into consideration. That could be a great level to convey up. I provide the thoughts above as normal inspiration however clearly there are questions just like the one you convey up the place an important thing will be working in sincere good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged round things like that, but I am positive that your job is clearly recognized as a good game. Each girls and boys feel the influence of just a second’s pleasure, for the remainder of their lives.
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