Updated 17 September 2013

How not to annoy your colleagues

From talking loudly on your cell phone and texting during meetings to dressing inappropriately and showing up late, bad manners aren't just bad form, they're bad for business.


It's been said that good manners will open doors that the best education cannot. Not surprisingly, there's a good bit of research to support the point, too.

A recent survey by OfficeTeam found that 80% of executives say clothing affects an employee's chances of earning a promotion. In a separate survey, the company also found that nearly 40% of managers do not respond favourably to social media "friend" requests from employees while 46% aren't keen on connecting with their boss on social media.

But leading the way in terms of contributing to poor form in the workplace and not all that surprisingly is the inappropriate use of technology. In fact, a recent study by Robert Half Technology found that 64% of surveyed CIOs said the increase use of mobile devices, including cell phones and tablets, has led to a significant increase in breaches of workplace etiquette.

That's up from the 51% who reported failures in etiquette just three years ago.

Bring Your Manners to Work Day

It's for reasons like these that The Protocol School of Washington established Bring Your Manners to Work Day.

Commemorated annually on the first Friday of September, the day is intended to remind employees and employers that manners matter. From talking loudly on one's cell phone and texting during meetings to dressing inappropriately and showing up late, bad manners aren't just bad form, their bad for business.

Because it's statistically important to Bring Your Manners to Work every day, The Protocol School of Washington offers the following dos and don'ts:

  • Don't cell yell. People tend to speak three times louder on a cell phone than in person. Mind your volume.
  • Do respect people's personal space while on the phone. A 'safe cell distance' is considered to be 10 feet.
  • Don't check your phone during meals and meetings. Instead keep phones off or on vibrate and pay attention to and engage those around you.
  • Do dress appropriately for the work place. In other words, save the see-through dresses, sandals with socks, Lycra bike shorts, muscle shirts, and plunging necklines for other occasions.
  • Don't "borrow" from other people's desks or (dare I even say it) lunches without permission.
  • Do clean up your messes, be it in the kitchen or at the copier, don't expect others to clean up after you.
  • Don't gossip. Over-sharing about your own personal life should also be avoided.
  • Do be on time to meetings, conference calls, and appointments.
  • Don't sink to someone else's standards. Just because coworkers behave badly is not a reason for you to follow suit. Always keep your poise and do the right thing, even if you're doing it alone. It matters and will be noticed.

If a coworker's behaviour is infringing upon your ability to perform your job well, address it directly with the individual.

Clearly state how their behaviour is impacting you, and, perhaps, others. Kindly request a change of behaviour emphasising how everyone could benefit from it. If the problem persists and is truly more than a mere annoyance, then bring it to the attention of your supervisor.

On the other hand, if a change happens, by all means be sure to say "thank you."

(Picture: office gossip from Shutterstock)


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