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Workplace Etiquette

Etiquette sounds like such an old fashioned thing, but it's really a set of general rules to follow to ensure appropriate behavior. Rather than stifling you, etiquette can actually help you advance and succeed in your career. Ignore it at your own risk.

One of the first rules of the workplace is to observe your new office's culture before suggesting changes. You may have great ideas, but don't step on anyone's toes right away. If you do, you'll most often get resistance. There's a good chance you just haven't yet learned the rationale behind certain procedures. Also, your co-workers don't trust you yet. If you take time to figure out your new job, you'll be able to learn a lot more and help find solutions that really work and that everyone accepts.

Watch out for the workplace troublemaker. Every job has one and he or she is usually the first one to visit your desk. Troublemakers try to stir things up and start rumors. Listen to him or her, but never make any comments. If he or she is talking about others, it's only a matter of time before you're the topic of conversation, and you don't want to fuel the flames.

Gossip is something that everyone loves, but most of us hate to be the person discussed. If you get a reputation for being a gossip, it could follow you for the rest of your career. Tap into the old grapevine, but never contribute. You can learn a lot if you pay attention: details about office dynamics, who's having a bad week, or upcoming promotions. However, remember that most of it is either made up or exaggerated.

Another important rule is to be polite at all times. You can always catch more flies with honey than vinegar, so no matter what you actually think of the person you're talking to, make sure that you say please and thank you. Swearing is something that should be reserved for after work and when you tell a joke, make sure it's in good taste and that everyone will find it funny. You never know who's listening, so it's better to stay on the safe side.

The major rule for etiquette in the workplace is to use basic common sense. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.

Elsewhere on the Web

Male Workplace Restroom Etiquette Leads to Scientific Breakthrough
Are You Contributing to Office Woes?
Email and Egos

Books

Body Language at Work: Overcoming Common Problems
The Answers: All the Office Questions You Never Dared to Ask
The PITA Principle: How to Work with (and Avoid Becoming) a Pain in the Ass

 
 

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