Regardless of your field, or the size of your office, you will undoubtedly encounter certain unmannerly characters who will test your patience, and make you say: “How on earth did this person get hired?”
You cannot avoid these people, you can only hope to outwit and outthink them before they cause you to go mad. The only shining light in having to tolerate rude coworkers is that you’ll begin to appreciate even more the mannerly ones who are willing to be professional in the workplace, and those are the people you can lean on in your career for advice and support and regard as valuable colleagues. The others, for instance, the Cubicle Invader, the Office Gossip, or the one who’s body odor rivals that of farm animals . . . well, they need a bit more help. Luckily, I’ve outlined the top ten office faux pas that could land you several spots down the corporate ladder.
Don’t be known as the “late guy or girl.”
Everyone is allowed to be late. You should always do everything you can to avoid it, but being late just happens. However, if you are constantly late, and for the same reasons over and over, you will get a reputation as the “late person” and people will not be able to rely on you. As well, eventually they will not care to wait around for you, and you’ll be missing out on vital information or meetings.
Lose the keyboard muscles.
Some people sit down at their computer and think they are the funniest, wittiest, bravest, and coolest person on the planet, when it comes to email, Facebook posts, or tweets. This is what I call Keyboard Muscles. Keyboard muscles are what improper people flex when they want to feel better about themselves behind the safety net of social media, but in a million years would never say anything to someone’s face.
Let go of “caps lock,” don’t overuse exclamation points, and if you have a problem with someone, try talking to them rather than shouting it via email.
Lose the excuses.
“My alarm didn’t go off, I swear!” “Traffic was terrible again.” . . . “Well, what happened was . . .” These are a few excuses you’ll hear and maybe even use over time. But please, don’t rely on them. If you’re late because of traffic constantly, then leave earlier. If your “alarm never goes off on time,” then get a new one. Similar to being known as the late person, no one will rely on you if you constantly fish for excuses to cover your butt.
You’re not a comedian.
Everyone has a different personality and nothing makes you look more inconsiderate than when you crack jokes that make others uncomfortable–or at their expense. Don’t use the office as your stage. If you have to tell jokes, do so only with those you trust in smaller groups, away from others you feel may be offended.
The Drama Queen or King
There’s nothing like blowing a small argument or situation way, way out of proportion. When people yell and hold grudges in the office, it affects everyone. It also causes a divide in the team. If you are constantly making every situation into a much bigger deal than it has to be, people will think you can’t handle pressure on any level and you may not get the chance to take on a bigger role.
The Cubicle Invader
Undoubtedly, there will be one person that loves to just pop right into your office or cube and park themselves in an open seat for much longer than you prefer. They’ll talk your ear off about nothing related to work, or something you don’t have the slightest interest in. The Cubicle Invader is not a reputation you want to have, since it means you’re clearly not working at all.
The Loud Talker
Either on the phone or in the hall, the loud talker thinks (or acts like) they are the only person in the room. It’s distracting to those around you and shows you don’t care about other people’s conversations.
The Political Junkie
Unless you’re in politics or running for office, hold off on touting your political views in the office. Similar to people’s sense of humor, everyone has different political opinions as well. Indiscriminately touting your political views can make for an awkward situation when you realize that not only your fellow coworkers, but the boss holds entirely opposing views. Then you risk getting on his or her bad side. And we all know how this one can end.
The Extreme Introvert
I’m not saying that everyone has to volunteer for karaoke in the office every week, but you do need to break out of your shell from time to time. If you don’t like parties or social gatherings, suck it up and try your best to be social and a part of the team. You’d be surprised, but people may actually like being around you. Shocker, I know! Being shy is one thing (which is totally fine), but when you close people off or remove yourself from social office gatherings, people will see it as being rude rather than being an introvert. Plus, this isn’t high school where the cool kids rule the room. In work, your skills will get you ahead. If you’re good at what you do, don’t be afraid to show it.
Face office bullying.
Bullying on any front is cowardly and rude. In the office, it’s taken to a whole other level. Some people like to think they can rule with fear or push others around to flex their authority, but if you get this reputation you may find your circle of office friends is getting smaller and smaller, if not gone altogether. Moreover, you never know who you will need to work with or possibly will end up working for one day. That person will likely remember when you enjoyed pushing them around when they first started.
Adapted from Reply All by Richie Frieman. Copyright © 2013 by Richie Frieman and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press Griffin, LLC.
—Richie Frieman is the world-renowned manners and etiquette columnist known as Modern Manners Guy for QuickandDirtyTips.com, as well as the author of Reply All . . . And Other Ways to Tank Your Career (St. Martin’s Press). With a diverse career ranging from artist, children’s book author and illustrator, clothing line owner, manners author, and even eight years as a professional wrestler, St. Martin’s Press refers to Frieman as “a modern-day Renaissance man.”