The ultimate guide to workplace etiquette

Once you decide to enter the world of professional settings, you’re bound to encounter workplace issues at some point. Although there are rules and guidelines everyone needs to follow, conflicts still happen due to misunderstandings, gossip and worse, harassment. 

You might have worked with someone who spread rumours about you, made a big deal out of your mistake and constantly berated you for just being who you are. Even if you have a steady sense of self, this can affect your performance at work and discourage you from getting out of bed.

This is why learning about workplace etiquette should be a requirement. This includes body language, communication and behaviour that can help every company make a comfortable space for every employee. Besides, when everyone knows how to act properly around each other, it’s easier to get things done and make meaningful work connections.

Want to learn more about it? Continue reading below for more information!

Don’t bring your personal problems to work

We get it, you’re bombarded with personal problems when you’re a professional adult. You’ve got endless bills to pay, romantic relationships to maintain and costly mortgages that have been breaking the bank, among other things. It’s difficult to not think about these things, especially when you’re also knee-deep in work tasks.

However, it’s important to refrain from bringing your sob stories to work. Aside from preventing you from doing your job, you might bring down the mood of your coworkers as well. Never share your problems with them, especially when you’re not that close since they have their work to focus on. 

If your problems are bringing you down, it’s best to take a break and file a leave of absence. It’s much better to address them first and take care of yourself so you can come back with better performance. However, if your problem is directly related to the workplace, immediately reach out to the human resources department and share your concerns.

Stay away from gossiping

No matter how much people love their jobs, things can get way too stressful. One of their ways to relieve stress is to converse with their coworkers during short breaks and just talk about anything under the sun. however, these conversations don’t always end up great, eventually leading to gossip aimed to damage someone’s reputation.

Once you find yourself in a conversation where the other party is spreading rumours, politely call them out and leave. Most importantly, never join in on the gossip and talk negatively about someone, especially if you don’t know them personally. Keep in mind that how you treat others says a lot about who you are, so tread lightly.

If you find yourself extremely frustrated or mad about something, it’s best to talk to them face-to-face. Tell a coworker that they’ve offended you, and that they never should’ve taken the last piece of chocolate you kept on the fridge.

And if you don’t want to be the talk of the town, check out these tips:

Keep private information to yourself

When you overshare things about yourself, you can become the target of gossiping, even if you think everyone likes you. Always be mindful of what you say, including your relationship problems and financial difficulties, to name a few. You’re just going to add flame to the fire if they choose to come against you and spread wrong information about who you are.

This isn’t to say that you should never interact with your coworkers at all. Surviving the workplace will be hard without friendships, no matter how much you adore your job. Just remember that when you share your secrets, they may spread like wildfire.

Avoid office romances

Office romances may look adorable on television shows, but it’s hardly the case in real workplaces. Chances are, you’d be the main star of office gossip, even if you’re both grownups capable of making your own decisions. Dating a coworker has always been a big deal for some companies, so be extra careful.

You might be tempted to keep it a secret, but it’s almost close to impossible. However, if you truly want to do it and push the thought of getting romantically involved with a colleague, just take things down a notch when you’re working. Don’t have arguments in the office or do public displays of affection. 

Be mindful when you’re outside of work

Sure, your work should not affect and consume your whole life, but you should always pay attention to your behaviour when you’re in public places. You never know when you’re going to bump into a colleague, especially if you live in the same city.

It’s also highly recommended that you don’t connect with your coworkers on social media. They might see what you’ve been up to on the weekends, which is perfect gossip material among people.

Be health-conscious

Now that people are encouraged to go back to the office after working from home due to the pandemic, you have to be extra health-conscious. People are getting more concerned with their wellbeing in an attempt to avoid the virus and pay expensive hospital bills.

For instance, when you have the flu, immediately call in sick and isolate even if you’re already fully vaccinated. You should also follow the health protocols implemented in the workplace, such as social distancing, keeping your hands clean and informing your supervisors if you’ve contracted the virus.

Also, don’t forget to keep your space clean, especially when you’re sharing a desk with someone. Wash your plates, wipe the table and remove candy wrappers or containers that could spread the germs everywhere. 

Make conversation

Don’t be shy and strike up a conversation with a coworker when you can. Even if you’re just a new employee, don’t be afraid to interact with your colleagues. You can start by asking for information to easily build rapport even if you already have the answer, or paying someone a genuine compliment to make their day. 

However, make sure that you avoid certain topics so you avoid crossing anyone’s line. Some matters can rub people the wrong way, even if you’re speaking about it with good intentions. For example, try not to open a conversation about your religious beliefs since it’s not exactly great material for small talk.

If you’re a devout Christian, don’t shove your beliefs down someone’s throat and convince them to attend the Sunday mass. Same with being an atheist, refrain from making insulting comments about your coworker’s faith. No one likes a self-righteous person!

In addition, don’t make a joke at someone else’s expense. Even if you’ve been friends with them for a long time, know your boundaries and speak appropriately.

Act appropriately during meetings

Office meetings can be fearful. The thought of facing your bosses and colleagues in one place, especially when you have to take the lead, is not something you can just wing. You have to preserve your professionalism, clearly discuss things and keep your coworkers in the loop. And even if you’re just a part of the audience, you still have to do your part and pay attention to what’s being said.

Make sure that you never arrive late! Don’t keep others waiting for you since they have to accomplish other things for the day. However, if you’re stuck in traffic and you can’t arrive on time, inform them about your situation. That way, they can start the meeting right away while waiting for you.

Here are other meeting etiquette tips you should know:

Pay attention

Always pay attention to your coworker and don’t interrupt them when they’re speaking. If you’re just sitting at the table, it’s easy to get bored and lose interest in what’s in front of you. That’s why it’s important to practice active listening, including paraphrasing what they say, nodding your head occasionally and maintaining eye contact, among other things.

Mute your microphone

This rule applies when you’re in a virtual meeting. When you don’t mute yourself during a video conference, your colleagues might hear things they’re not supposed to hear. They might be disturbed by your dog’s loud barks, your parents’ week-long argument or the noise of a coffee shop. 

So, before the meeting starts, make sure that your settings are already set. Moreover, don’t turn off your camera! This way, you can make your coworker feel like they’re talking to a human being and not just a black screen.

Express your gratitude

Meetings are important, but they can feel draining and stressful for many employees. So, before ending the meeting and sending everyone back to their desks, express your gratitude and thank them for being there. It’s one of the best ways to make them feel that their presence and contributions are important, increasing the overall morale in the workplace.

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