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Universal Office Etiquette

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, no Emily Post handbook exists for the office place. No one has sat down and written a guide for proper manners that encompasses how employees and employers should interact or how business people should interact with customers, or has someone? The Golden Rule, treat others as you want to be treated, has been taught to children down through the ages; yet somehow, as adults we often forget to apply that rule in our own lives. As we work in the areas of financial crimes, fraud prevention, ID theft protection, anti-money laundering, and data breach, functioning without offending those we work with or for is extremely important. This can be accomplished if we simply apply some basic principles.

  • Dress in an appropriate fashion. Andrew Jensen, a business growth, efficiency, and marketing consultant, points out that studies in the business world seem to show that the type of business culture and customers with whom you work should dictate what style of clothing you wear in the office. Be sure to dress appropriately to the culture and the way you expect the rest of the team to dress.

  • Keep personal grooming personal. Your desk is never the appropriate place to take care of your morning routine. Shaving, combing hair, putting on make-up, and manicures should be taken care of at home, not done in front of coworkers or on company time.

  • Practice good table manners. Reserve eating for in the breakroom. Coworkers don’t want to listen to you crunch and munch your way through your snack or lunch. Also, be thoughtful in what you bring to work to eat. Foods with strong odors can be a problem for others and can make the entire area smell, wafting out past the breakroom.

  • Use inside voices. Remember that voices carry. Using an inside voice when you are in the office will keep you from being a distraction to others who are working. Also, remember to practice Thumper’s advice of, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

  • Use your sick time. Staying home if you are truly sick is better than bringing the illness to share. This is one time when being selfish is a good thing. The office will continue to run if you stay home, and you will get better faster if you take some time to rest and kick the bug. If you bring the illness to work, you run the risk of making others in the area sick, and that can cause a widespread decrease in productivity.

By following a few common courtesy tips, the office can run smoothly and without offense. Remembering that you are a team, not a solo operation, will help you to seek to put others before yourself and actively practice the above advice.


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