Are you graduating this spring and about to start a 9-to-5 job/career? Or maybe you still have a year or two to go before you can don a cap and gown, but you are about to get a taste of office life during a summer internship. Either way, you are going to want to make a positive first, and lasting, impression; being conscience of office etiquette is one way of making such an impression.
Many of you will be thrown into some new, “professional” environment this summer, an environment where you will be expected to adhere to a certain unwritten code of office etiquette. And while everyone exists in their own distinct paradigm, when grouped together with other human beings in a confined space, certain norms should typically be adhered to.
Of course, there are the basics — showing up on time, dressing appropriately, being clean and saying, “Please,” and “Thank you.” Hopefully you already have those down pat by now. The following are a few more for you to consider:
During office hours, put your mobile phone on vibrate. No one wants to hear your new ringtone of Justin Bieber singing “Boyfriend” every time one of your lady friends calls. And when/if your girlfriend or boyfriend does call during office hours, take the conversation outside so everyone does not have to hear whatever plans you might be making for the evening.
Also, on the topic of mobile phones, smartphones and other devices can seriously downgrade your productivity, so save your texting and web surfing for lunch or non-working hours; an office meeting is not the time to be pecking away at your QWERTY keyboard.
Most cooked foods possess the potential of stinking up confined spaces. And while you might think taking your rotisserie chicken back to the office for a “working lunch” is a good — and productive — idea, your co-worker gagging in the next cubicle over would strongly disagree. Some of your safest choices are to:
- eat out
- eat something bland and uncooked at your desk
- eat in the break room
If you have leftovers, putting them directly into the office refrigerator might be a good idea too — if only to avoid food poisoning. Also, when you are all done with lunch, skip the gum and grab a breath mint. There is nothing professional about someone chewing gum; leave it at home.
Think before you talk to others
No, you do not know everything. Be open to learning a thing or two from others and be thankful they are taking the time to help you out. And when someone is talking to you, helping you or providing you with advice, wait until they are done talking to have your say; few things are more annoying than being constantly cut off mid-sentence.
When you are talking to others, keep your personal life and opinions to yourself. Seriously, unless you are talking to family or friends, no one else really cares. And when you are talking to others, remember to watch your language and volume; dropping the occasional F-bomb does not make you sound intense or determined, it only makes you sound unprofessional.
It is also important to learn when the appropriate time is to use speakerphone. Again, no one wants to hear your conversations.
Company time and property
When you are in an office setting, treat it as though you are in someone else’s home. As such, keep a tidy workspace and always clean up after yourself. Ask before using or borrowing office supplies — never steal office supplies. And save your job searches for non-working hours. We all know you are ambitious and constantly on the lookout for that next step up the career ladder; however, it is extremely disrespectful to look for that next step on company time.
On the topic of respect, personal space and privacy should always be respected. If an office door is closed, it is usually for good reason. In addition, cubicles can be small and personal; do not go barging into someone’s cubicle. And finally, lay off the office gossip. There is an old Jewish proverb that goes something like: “What you do not see with your eyes, do not witness with your mouth.”
By taking the preceding tips into account and using a little bit of common sense, you can hopefully make a strong first, and lasting, impression wherever you end up this summer.