Don’t be that person in the office! You know, the one who waltzes in late, coffee in hand, and then swans out at 5pm on the dot. The one who talks about other coworkers in hushed whispers. The one who brings smelly food to the office and nauseates the rest of the office during lunch.
Truth be told, no one ever thinks they are “that person”. They just lack the workplace etiquette and awareness that what they are doing is annoying their colleagues. Good manners and etiquette go a long way in the professional world, so try to steer clear of certain behaviours.
Regardless of whether you’re the boss or the intern, these mistakes happen too often in the office. From time-management to eating habits, here are the workplace etiquette mistakes you may be unknowingly committing.
Being late every day
Punctuality is a gift that a few people don’t possess, yet not having it is one of the most infuriating things for coworkers. Consistently showing up late for work will not only put you on the boss’s radar, but it will annoy the hell out of your colleagues too.
If you are the boss, well, you’re not gaining any respect from your employees. You should be leading by example and showing up to work a little bit early every day. If you get there a few minutes early, your employees will start doing the same.
Workers who roll in an hour late and act casual about it are frustrating to other employees. If they can show up on time every day, then the latecomer can too. It’s perhaps more annoying when the latecomer packs up and leaves at 5pm on the dot. They’re effectively doing an hour or two less work than the other employees every day, making it a habit that needs to be stopped immediately.
Missing or being late to meetings
Carrying on with time management (yes, it’s a basic adult function), missing meetings or showing up late to them is extremely unprofessional. It delays everyone and shows complete disregard for their time.
It affects the whole company as decisions become delayed and everyone sits there wasting time while they wait for the late person. Worse, still, is not showing up to meetings at all. Even if the meeting will be a waste of your time, you don’t want your colleagues, managers and bosses to sit there for 15 minutes before taking the hint that you’re not showing up.
There’s a reason why people are included in meetings; the bosses want input from everyone there. By not showing up, important decisions may be put on hold. People who miss meetings or show up late are seen as unreliable by others, seriously damaging their reputation and career. Meetings can be long and boring, but everyone has to take part, so be punctual and present.
Talking about colleagues
Every office has a gossip. Although it may be harmless most of the time, talking about coworkers behind their backs is a bad habit to fall into. Not only does gossip lead to a loss of productivity, but it can also damage a person’s credibility among their peers; colleagues will trust a gossip less and it can lead to isolation.
Rather talk about the kind people in the office and the good work that your colleagues have done, rather than spreading rumours and stories that may have been told in confidence. Your work relationships with colleagues will be far more positive if they trust you and enjoy working with you.
Try to avoid gossip – don’t listen to it and if you hear a rumour about yourself, be professional about it and try to clear the air. Never retaliate with lies and rumours of your own. Be an adult and address the rumours appropriately and clearly. Your colleagues will think more of you for taking it in your stride and remaining calm.
Eating smelly food
Some foods are less offensive than others. Whether you eat lunch at your desk or in the kitchen, certain food smells can travel far and wide. The smell of some foods can make other employees feel nauseous, make them lose their appetite or simply make them irritated.
There are unwritten rules about office food and at the top of the ‘what not to eat’ list is fish. Seriously, it doesn’t matter if it’s tuna, salmon or battered hake – fish should never be brought to work.
The same goes for other strong-smelling meat such as leftover lamb chops and boerewors. Be careful what you microwave too – certain foods smell funny when you take them out of the microwave.
It’s best to ask your coworkers if they mind certain smells before opening your lunchbox. Tell them what you’ve brought and ask if anyone will have a problem with the smell of it. If they do, rather take your lunch outside or into a private room where you can eat without worrying about the smell.
If you happen to commit one of these workplace etiquette mistakes, own up to it and apologise to those you may have offended. It will boost your reputation among your peers and people will genuinely forgive you if you acknowledge your mistake.
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