The helpful advice that your father gave you about what office life is like needs some updating. Things around us have changed, which alters the way that we interact with each other. There are still social decorums that are “unspoken” in a professional work space. The internet and smartphone technology are big culprits to the new way of life, but they aren’t the only ones.
- Social Media: Somedays, you have a hard day at your job. Even if you are working your dream job, there are going to be good days and there are going to be bad days. On the bad days, don’t turn to social media as your venting outlet. Refrain from complaining about your coworkers, your boss, or the company online. What you say in a heated moment, whether true or not, lives on forever online. Even if you aren’t “friends” with your boss on social media, things have a way of getting around. Speaking negatively about your workplace sends a bad message to your employer as well as puts your job in jeopardy. If you don’t want that person to know, then don’t say it.
- Introductions: If you see a new face in the office, introduce yourself. Ask genuine questions to get to know them, and listen. Let them know that they are welcomed and invited them to be a part of the group. Be polite to “the new guy” and show them around the office. Give them little tips to help them along the way, such as who to contact when they have specific problems. It’s hard to know who does what when you first get there.
- Attitude: No matter what you do, you are on a team. Even sales positions are working together to build the company. The entire mood of the office changes when one person starts being negative. Don’t walk over your coworker to get ahead. If they have a success, it means you did, too. Keep a positive attitude and encourage the people you work with. If you’re having a hard time staying positive, then remember what your mother taught you: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”
- Don’t talk about after work plans in the open: You and another coworker really hit it off, and now you guys hang out all the time. That’s great! Having friends at work makes the job much more enjoyable, but be mindful of the other people around you. You don’t want to make someone else feel excluded because they weren’t invited to the happy hour after work. Either leave it an open invitation to everyone in the office, or talk about your after work plans in private.
- Topics of conversation: The office is about being productive, and controversial conversation can distract people. Keep your mind on track by avoiding hot button topics like politics, religion, and divulging too much personal information. It’s awkward and uncomfortable to get caught in a conversation with a coworker on one of these topics. Not everyone believes the same things that you do, and that’s ok. If you are burning to have that conversation, ask them if they would like to talk more outside of work. Always ask, and drop it if they aren’t taking well to the conversation.
- Be considerate of the breakroom: When you use anything in the kitchen, clean up after yourself. If you use the last of the paper towels, replace them. If you notice that you are running low on a regularly stocked item, make sure to put it on the list for the designated person to get.
Prove yourself to be the most professional version of yourself by keeping up with your social graces. When in doubt, stick to the golden rule of putting others first. If you think about how your actions affect someone else, then you will be worry free about breaking any office etiquette rules.