I was waiting for the office shuttle today when I noticed a man from my office pass by to go through the front doors. He was in a crowd but it was easy to spot him, because he was the only person who didn’t hold the door open for the people behind him. He had done the same to me a few weeks ago, allowing the door to slam right in my face. As I watched him go by, the door was held for him, but he promptly let it drop in the face of the woman directly behind him, ending the smooth flow of people into the building.
It’s basic manners. It’s not a woman vs. man thing. It’s a “let’s be nice to fellow human beings” thing. I hold the door for men and women alike. It’s rude to let a door slam on someone, and it only takes seconds or less to prevent it from happening.
It made me start thinking about how people, either due to ignorance or apathy, don’t seem to know basic office etiquette. So here I am now, ready to share my own rules of office etiquette.
1. Acknowledge people you walk by in the hall. They can see you. You can see them. You may not realize it, but they could be the big boss, or an important client. Give them a nod, or a “Good morning”, or even just a smile. For groups, be prepared to smile, but they may be too busy talking to even realize there’s someone else there.
2. Be friendly, This is hard for introverts, but it is worth it in the long run. I’ve always been introverted, but at my first job, there was a woman who was the friendliest person I’d ever met. She was a ray of sunshine to everyone she interacted with. To this day, I have no idea what she did, but her co-workers loved her, and management loved her enough to always figure out a job even when they didn’t really need another person. Be the person pleasant to be around, and people will want you around.
3. Dress appropriately. Wear clothes that fit, and keep in mind you’re going to work, not out dancing in a club, or walking down a runway. You might love your new 4 inch stilettos, but others won’t be thinking how stylish you look. They’ll be wondering who in the office you’re trying to seduce. I’m shocked by the amount of women I see at job fairs dressed like they are on their way to a hot date. They stand out, and not in a good way. It’s hard to take a woman as a serious contender for a position when I can see down the front of her shirt, or I’m distracted by thick blue eye shadow. Distracting outfits make you look like you’re intending to sleep your way around the office, instead of being there to do your job.
Dressing appropriately is for men too, although I feel like it’s easier since men don’t have any many options. Fit is important and keep hairstyles and facial hair neat.
4, Consider the amount of your personal life that you share. It might be a funny story when you tell your coworker you puked everywhere after a night out, but as that story circulates around the office, people might just think you’re an irresponsible drunk.
5. Keep your volume down, including phone calls and radio or computer volume. If you’re in a cubicle jungle, keep in mind that no one else wants to hear your conference call, so keep it off speakerphone. No one wants to hear your radio or music so keep the volume low or get headphones. Self explanatory. Seriously, no one wants to hear it.
6. Clean up after yourself. Use a dish, wash it. Throw away your trash. Wherever you eat, clean up your crumbs and spills. Keep your office area neat. I can’t believe I have to say this, but flush the toilet after you use it, and wipe up the seat if you pee on it. I worked at one of the most prestigious office buildings in the world, and I am still shocked that women would cover the toilet with urine and not clean up after themselves. Stop hovering – it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. You hover to avoid the germs on the toilet that you put there because you hovered above the toilet and lack the ability to aim. Carry some wipes or something… stop ruining the toilet for the rest of us.
7. Use basic manners. Don’t run people over. Be kind to others. Say “Please” and “Thank you.” Hold the door if there’s someone behind you to avoid random people shooting eye daggers at you or not even knowing you and disliking you. Because that’s how I feel about random man in my office. I don’t know his name or what he does, but if he asked me for help with work, I wouldn’t lift a finger. And if I made cupcakes, he would be the last one I brought them to.