These days you just never know who knows workplace etiquette rules and who doesn’t. Sure enough you get an employee handbook on your first day at a job and maybe someone goes over it with you. There are such rules as don’t drink or smoke on the premises. Don’t try to kill your co-worker (and no one tells you this is really really hard at times to not do). You can’t abuse your lunch hour privileges. You can’t call in more than 3 days sick without a doctor’s note. Got it. You hear of all the legal stuff.
Then occasionally someone pulls you aside or you read a silly 250 word advice column on the Huffington Post probably written by someone who works from home that gives more social norms in the workplace advice. You know, like don’t talk loudly on your cell phone or don’t ask one co-worker to lunch in front of another. Don’t bring in fish for lunch. I will actually reinforce that one here as well. That’s real. Nothing worse than then having to deal with stinky fish smell for the rest of the day. Who can concentrate with that smell around? Well, the executives can since many can close their doors.
Here are some real tips from what I have seen go wrong in the workplace across all my past places of torture.
1. Learn to use a microwave. The same way you don’t want to bring in stinky fish, you don’t want to be that person that burns food in the microwave and stinks up the place.
2. Don’t have a meltdown locking yourself in the bathroom when it’s just one stall. Here’s the deal. Other people need to use the restroom. You won’t get anyone to be on your side if they pee on themselves. Run out to the parking lot, your car (if you are on California), or wait to you get home to have a good cry. As a matter of fact, go home and watch My Girl.
3. Don’t talk smack about your boss in the hallway even if it is 8am. You may think no one else is around but the walls always have ears. Always and little birdies too…if you catch my drift.
4. At the other end if the spectrum..don’t slip up and refer to your female boss as mommy. Enough said, right?
5. Don’t overstay your welcome. When it’s time to leave, it’s time to leave. That holds true as much for a meeting as for your overall company. Don’t be like Milton in Office Space who seemed to not realize he had long ago been fired. Although, in all fairness, he got even in the end (big time).
6. Don’t flaunt the fact that you are a favorite. You may be the favorite of one manager but here’s a secret all managers have a favorite and sometimes they trade favors based on getting rid of favorites. Sound complicated? I’m not going to explain.
7. Don’t get secretly married to a co-worker. For that matter, don’t secretely get a co-worker pregnant. People will eventually find out. And if they are a subordinate then you may be truly violating company policy and soon both may be out of a job.
8. Don’t shave your legs at a co-worker’s desk. Let’s keep some things private.
9. Don’t mistake polite banter for true friendship.
10. Don’t think your resignation will come as a surprise. Almost akways, a manager (a good one) knows and can tell when it is coming.
11. Here is a bonus one. Don’t ever think your emails are private or that you have managed to delete all your mean, nasty ones. In that vein, don’t expect to be rehired when you quit in a huff.