Thought you were done with rules when you left grade school? Not so fast. Working with others in an office setting has its own set of dos and don'ts -- and they're not always written down for you. Basic manners, phone courtesy and interacting with your co-workers -- each of these etiquette areas require your attention to ensure that work life moves along smoothly. Always keep in mind that you're part of a group of people who need to get along.
Several of the most basic "don'ts" fall into the common courtesy category -- you know, all that manners stuff your mom tried to pound into your head when you were a kid. Don't be rude, don't interrupt others when they're talking, and don't be loud or offensive when you're talking yourself. And don't forget table manners. When you're eating with co-workers or hanging out in the break room, chew quietly, don't eat like you were raised by wolves and don't talk with your mouth full. And definitely don't embarrass yourself or others by having too much fun at the office holiday party.
It's Not All About You
You're part of a team at work, so be a good teammate. Odds are, you share at least several common areas, such as the break room and restrooms. Clean up after yourself. Don't leave your stuff spread out on the break room table or in the conference room. And the cardinal rule of office break room life? Don't take anything that doesn't belong to you -- especially food or beverages! Just remind yourself how ticked off you were the last time someone helped herself to your last cold diet soda.
Play Well With Others
Part of the whole workplace culture is how people interact with each other. Like it or not, you're part of the larger office "team" or "family." And just like with any other team or family, you've got to do your part to keep the peace. Don't show up late for work or meetings, because this tells others that you don't respect their time. Don't miss deadlines or do only half your job, because this messes up your co-workers' schedules and might unfairly increase their workloads. Don't be a diva -- deadlines, schedules and the office dress code do apply to you the same as to everyone else.
Communications devices pose their own set of etiquette challenges in the office. Cell phone use is one of the biggest problem areas, so keep yours under control. Don't text or talk during meetings or when someone's talking to you -- turn the phone off or leave it at your desk. Don't blast your cubicle neighbors with loud, obnoxious ring tones or by talking loudly or non-stop on your phone when they're trying to work. And whether you're on the phone or talking to co-workers in person, don't get caught up in office gossip, off-color jokes and rumors.
As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.