Harvey Mackay: A little workplace courtesy goes a long way
BY HARVEY MACKAY United Feature Syndicate
Sunday, January 29, 2012
1/29/12 at 3:19 AM
Most of us work with relatively sane people who try to behave during the eight hours or so that they're in the office. We attempt to do the right things and avoid offending our co-workers.
But some people just don't get it. As part of a survey on workplace etiquette, the Robert Half organization asked employees to share some of the most outrageous workplace scenes they'd witnessed or heard about. Here are some of the "winners" - although I would more accurately call them losers:
"A co-worker fell asleep at her desk, and another team member took a picture of her snoozing and sent it to the boss."
"Someone was stealing other people's lunches from the lounge area."
"A colleague purposely sneezed in the boss's coffee cup."
"After asking me a question, a co-worker talked excessively for 30 minutes without letting me get in one word."
"I once heard an employee screaming at a customer."
"Someone thought he put a customer on hold and then used inappropriate language within earshot."
"Employees were walking around the office barefoot."
"A person took a cellphone into the restroom while still talking."
Don't join this club. Studies have shown that rude behavior at work hurts productivity, job commitment, employee retention, morale and working relationships. Even worse, it threatens the health and well-being of employees.
The word "courtesy" means "the way of the court." Displaying the same actions and attitudes appropriate in the presence of royalty is a good guide for all of our everyday dealings with others.
Here are 10 simple tips for proper - and more productive - workplace behavior:
As I like to say, little things don't mean a lot - they mean everything. Common courtesy is becoming all too uncommon. Help reverse the trend.
- Watch your language. Crude language, naughty jokes and insensitive comments don't belong in the workplace. If you question whether something is safe to say, it probably isn't.
- Don't criticize or complain in public. Trashing a colleague, customer or boss where others can hear makes you look petty and unprofessional.
- Stay cool. Take a moment to collect your thoughts and control your emotions before responding to a difficult co-worker or an annoying situation. If you gain a reputation for losing your temper, few people will want to work with you.
- Use technology appropriately. Email helps avoid face-to-face confrontations, but it's still important to maintain a civil tone in your communications. Think twice before you hit the send button.
- Respond as promptly as possible to requests and questions. Making co-workers wait for answers unnecessarily disrupts their schedules. If someone is relying on you for information, be cooperative.
- Minimize interruptions to others. Ask "May I interrupt you?" or "Is this a convenient time for a question?" If someone barges into your office when you are especially busy, politely ask when you can get back to him or her.
- Leave a signed note when leaving something on a co-worker's desk or when borrowing items. Be sure to return those items when you finish with them.
- Be aware of the workloads of other staff. Remember, just because it's a priority for you doesn't mean it's a priority for others.
- Remember to say "please" and "thank you." So basic, but so important.
- Respect one another. Leave paper in the copy machine. Clean up after yourself in the break room. Don't pry into personal information. Beware of office gossip.
Mackay's Moral: Good manners are never out of place in the workplace.
Original Print Headline: A little courtesy at work goes a long way
Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." To send him a question or comment, go to tulsaworld.com/mackayfeedback.