One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your career is not understanding that there are certain codes and rules to abide by in the workplace.
If you’re not careful, you may even lose opportunities because others are put off by your lack of professionalism.
To get a better idea of the office etiquette you should be aware of, we caught up with Catherine Palmiere, president of recruitment firm Adam Personnel, and Lyudmila Bloch, business etiquette coach at World Class Business Etiquette and author of “The Golden Rules of Etiquette at The Plaza.” Here’s what they told us:
1. Don’t Interrupt your colleagues. Not only is it disrespectful but it’s a sign of “poor social skills,” Bloch says.
2. Pull the plug on office chatter. Palmiere says it’s okay to bond with your colleagues but “when they’re walking with you to continue the conversation that’s when you know it’s too much.”
3. Don’t be loud. Bloch says it’s not just rude, “it’s intrusive.” Keep quiet and you won’t invade other people’s personal space.
4. Don’t eat smelly food. It can be very offensive to a coworker, so save the smelly Tuna or bag of buttery popcorn for your down time at home.
5. Don’t use slang or text-speak. “An email should be handled as a formal letter,” Palmiere says. And don’t forget, emails can be “kept on a company’s record for years.”
6. Share the credit. Not acknowledging a colleague’s work can ruin your reputation. “You won’t come across as a team player, [but instead] you will come across as a self-indulgent individual who just cares about his or her promotion,” Bloch tells us.
7. Hold back on the perfume. Palmiere says when it comes to perfume there are “a lot of people who overdo it.” It’s disruptive and many people are allergic to it. If you can’t control yourself, don’t wear it at all.
8. Office attire should stay on the conservative side. Bloch says it’s best to be traditional. Still, not all offices are the same so think about “who you’re meeting with and then plan your wardrobe accordingly.”
9. Keep your ring tone under control. The music can be distracting, so it’s best to keep your phone on vibrate.
10. Keep the office clean. Your boss shouldn’t have to tell you this. Palmiere says “if you have a cup of coffee wash, the cup or throw your cup out if it’s disposable. If you have food in the refrigerator that you don’t take home, it should get thrown out. Be clean.”
11. Don’t get too personal at work. Bloch says it not only kills productivity, but “when you disclose too much you become vulnerable and it’s not a good thing in the business environment.”
12. Be on time. Bloch says being punctual says a lot about your personal values. “When you’re constantly late, you are basically giving a silent message that you don’t care,” Bloch explains.
13. Don’t take personal calls at your desk. If you have to, then it’s fine to take a personal call at your desk sometimes, but end it quickly so that you don’t disturb those around you — especially if it’s an open office space.
14. Don’t wear your commuting shoes at work. “Change you shoes way before you get to your office,” Bloch advises. The way people perceive you is everything “and it’s important to project a professional image.”
15. It’s okay to blow your nose at your desk, but only if it’s an emergency. “If you have consistent allergies or take certain medication for your nose, do it in the privacy of the restroom.”
16. Don’t play with your hair during a meeting. If you can’t keep yourself from playing with your hair, “it’s better to put your hair back, maybe tight in a ponytail.” You should also refrain from brushing your hair or applying makeup at your desk.
17. Don’t come to work if you’re too sick. The rule of thumb is “if you’re contagious you should stay home.” But if you just have sniffles you should be at the office. “If we took a day off every time we didn’t feel well, we’d never be at the office,” Palmiere says.
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