Developing Good Workplace Manners

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Our parents and teachers usually do a good job of teaching us the basics of social etiquette: say please, sorry and thank you, say ‘good morning’ when you see someone, stand and offer your seat to an older person or pregnant lady when you are on public transport. These help us navigate the madness that is society.

However, few of us realize that there is proper social etiquette in a workplace too. Every place has a different code and depending on whether you work in a hospital or school, these rules will differ. In the corporate sector however, there is just one common set of manners that should work everywhere, with minor adjustments depending on context.

Respect Personal Space

This is especially important in an office with limited space because everyone is invariably going to be bumping into one another. Everyone will carve out their own niche and it’s important to respect those boundaries especially if you have a coworking space with someone else that offers professional setting. You don’t have to be OCD about it, but stop spreading your stuff into areas that by rights should be your colleague’s, even if they are minimalists who don’t have a lot of stuff. The same is true the other way around; don’t try to tidy up someone else’s space because it offends you – they may like the creative chaos.

Respect People

Respect includes not just your boss or your boss’ secretary but the cleaning lady too. And the maintenance guys. How you treat people you consider ‘beneath’ you is a good measure of who you are, but also it is quite difficult being the cleaning crew in a building where everyone treats you as sub-human. You may work in a affordable meeting room rental in Singaporebut that does not give you the right to litter or make a mess of your desk. Be thoughtful, and make the job easier for those who were not fortunate enough to do your job. Clean up after yourself; use the wastepaper basket; if you spill something, mop it up with some napkins. If you need something extra done, don’t just tell them to do it. Ask them politely if they will/can do it and make sure they know that you appreciate the extra effort they put into it.

Respect Opinions

Women regularly report that they find it difficult to participate in discussions because men will constantly interrupt them, talk over them or attempt to ‘mansplain’ which is to explain something they already know. You may be guilty of this behaviour without being aware of it. Next time you are in a meeting, play a game with yourself: observe closely who participates and who doesn’t, and see whether you can discern why the non-participants are holding back. If you are in a position of authority, use your influence to encourage the non-speakers – man or woman – to speak up and firmly shut down any trolls who attempt to interrupt, because let’s face it, that’s just rude.