8 Things to Remember Before Monday Morning
By Jennifer E. Jones
It’s no secret that most working adults spend more time with co-workers than they do their own friends and family. Eight hours a day, five days a week, 50 or so weeks a year. You spend so much time with the guy who has the adjoining desk to yours that you’re probably married by common law.
Office dynamics can rule your day. Those you work around can either make you feel like the luckiest worker bee in the hive or make you glad you don't own a gun.
When it comes to office pet peeves, I know you always think it’s the other guy. It’s the girl who paints her nails at her desk so everyone in a five-cubicle radius can smell the offensive fragrance. It’s the guy who loves to talk just a little too close. Or it’s the boss that reminds you of Steve Carell from The Office. Either way, folks like this can make an 8-hour day seem like an eternity.
But what if it’s you? What if you’re the office outcast whose antics secretly annoy everyone? I’m convinced that most people who commit office indecency crimes are completely unaware of their vexing behavior.
So I’ve come to help. Before Monday morning comes around again, read these tips on how to improve your office manners.
Be Mindful of Body Language
Not yours. Your co-worker’s. Let’s say you walk into someone’s office because you’ve just got to tell somebody about your son's soccer game. Do they continue to type as you talk? Do their eyes shift around the office? Could be they were in the middle of something when you came in that requires concentration. It’s definitely not the right time. Take a cue and excuse yourself politely. They’ll be more receptive when they’re not quite so busy.
Coughing, Clearing the Throat and Other Vocal Symphonies
I understand some things can’t be helped. If you have a cold or a persistent cough due to illness, that’s unavoidable. But sometimes we make noises unintentionally and without realizing how frequently they annoy those around us. Popping gum, unusually loud or high-pitched yawns, singing along with your music (guilty as charged) -- all these things may be white noise to us but they drive our co-workers mad by the end of the day. Listen to yourself and find a less repetitive, quieter way to relieve stress.
This is closely related to the previous point because it’s all adding to the noise level of the office. Now if the following were a felony, I’d be in jail for life. I love talking on speakerphone. Just frees up everything. However, my co-workers don’t enjoy hearing me check my messages or talk to my brother. So let that be a lesson. When the phone rings, pick it up. It’s right there.
I also have to add to the volume control issue a point about music. I love music. It helps the day fly by, but again my co-workers probably don’t feel the same. If you think your music is too loud, turn it up to normal volume and walk away. If you can make out the lyrics from outside your office door, it’s too loud.
Restraining Your Inner Child
When I surveyed a group of adults about office pet peeves, I was the most surprised by this response. I mean, we’re all out of kindergarten, right?
In school, it was cute when you burped. All your friends laughed when someone passed gas. When you’re five, it’s really, really funny. But as an adult, those things don’t fly anymore -- especially at work. Please restrain yourself. This goes beyond "personal preference" into the couth and decorum realm.
Running the Rumor Mill
Office gossip could be its own article. Some people swear by it because it’s the only way to stay ahead of major office shifts or personnel changes. Others feel that it is invasive and catty. I think most of us have no clue when we’re gossiping. You could go by your gut feeling but always judge your speech by Philippians 4:8. Is it a good report? Is it truthful? Is it constructive or helpful? Think before you speak, and if you're in doubt at all, it's best just to keep quiet.
This is simple. If you borrow something, bring it back. And don’t assume that just because someone is not at his or her desk that it gives you permission to take something without asking.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Ask
Camaraderie amongst co-workers is great for morale, and a few people I’ve worked with are good friends of mine. However, not everyone comes to work to be bosom buddies. It’s important to respect one another’s personal boundaries. If Joe in the corner office doesn’t want to share his family details, don’t press him. Some people pride themselves on their privacy. Let them have that right.
This too could be a book. I know many, many people thoroughly frustrated by having to share a kitchen with their messy co-workers. I feel your pain, and it’s probably my lasagna that’s been in the fridge for the last six months. Unfortunately, you can’t treat your co-workers like you would your roommate. My advice is to have a monthly cleaning party. Every month it’s somebody’s turn to clean out the fridge. Send a simple mass email that states, “It’s that time again. Come claim your stuff or it’s getting tossed.” I’ve found that this helps jog their memories to grab their food before it grows legs and walks out on its own.
We can all live, laugh, and work under the same office roof if we try hard enough. All we need is a little patience, a lot of grace, and good ol’ fashioned R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Got comments? Drop me a line.
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