Modern Etiquette: 'Who borrowed my stapler?'

Sun Jun 21, 2015 7:08am EDT
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By Pamela Eyring

(Reuters) - According to "Happiness at Work" by author Jessica Pryce-Jones, American workers spend an average of 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime.

With so much time spent in cubicles and under the glare of fluorescent lights (and constant deadlines), maintaining civility and respect is not only important for personal success but also for the psychological well-being of your entire office.

Whether you are a recent hire or just need a refresher course on interoffice relationships, here are some practical reminders on maintaining professional decorum and respect in a shared workplace.

Volume Control: With open workspaces becoming more commonplace, a closed door can’t shut out a loud co-worker or someone on a speakerphone. If you have to make phone calls in an open setting, make sure to control your own volume and respect your neighbors. Or if your office has privacy rooms, utilize them.

Food for thought: The shared office kitchen is often the most contentious room in any office setting. From leaving last week’s half eaten lunch in the fridge to stinking up the kitchen with reheated kimchi, employees need to show respect and mind their manners when it comes to culinary concerns. If there is a sink, do your own dishes instead of leaving them for later.

Happy returns: Nothing can raise the ire of your fellow employee quicker than “borrowing” a stapler, a pair of scissors or a pen without asking. What’s worse is when you forget to return the item. Remember what your parents taught you as a child — never borrow something without asking and if you do, be sure and return it as soon as possible.

The late show: With our deadline-driven workday, time is more valuable than ever. If you have a meeting with a co-worker or team, show respect by being on time. The same goes for meeting deadlines on a collaborative project. Nothing leaves a worse impression than someone having to pay the price for your tardiness.

Language barrier: In an office setting, you are surrounded by people of all faiths, backgrounds and moral codes of conduct. Given this diversity, be sure and watch your language by editing out swear words, demeaning phrases and other offensive remarks. Showing respect in all forms of communication will speak volumes about you.   Continued...