What to do about bad manners at work

Office etiquette concerns the way you conduct yourself amongst your colleagues and employees. Previously I’ve talked about annoying office behaviours and the etiquette rules of sending and receiving emails. This week’s blog concerns more specific examples of bad manners at the office, how they can negatively affect the workplace, and tips for combating them.

  • General office etiquette is important for fostering a productive, happy working environment – and good manners cost nothing. Bad manners, on the other hand, can lead to resentment among colleagues, frustration and low morale, and can adversely affect the productivity of the workforce.

What are good manners at the office?

The following list has some basic office etiquette rules and is a guide to conducting yourself properly at your office or workplace…

  • Don’t come to work if you’re ill. You might think it looks keen, but spreading contagious diseases around the office will not impress anyone.
  • Always arrive on time for meetings. Avoid scheduling meetings back-to-back because generally it means you will be a few minutes late for the next meeting.
  • During meetings, turn off your mobile phone or switch it to vibrate to avoid disturbing others, or putting the speaker off their flow.
  • Don’t let meetings run late.
  • Avoid trying to multi-task during meetings, such as checking emails and taking calls.
  • Eat your lunch in the appropriate place, particularly if your food is smelly! Other workers don’t want to be distracted by pungent curry or fish smells.
  • In an open plan office, be aware that your voice carries and speak at a reasonable volume, including when you’re on the phone.
  • Wear appropriate clothing (nothing too revealing) and avoid overpowering perfumes and sprays.
  • Don’t take stationery – or someone else’s lunch – without asking.
  • Don’t criticise your colleagues or assistants in front of other workers. It’s entirely inappropriate, only serves to humiliate the person being criticised, make them resent you for humiliating them, and make everyone else who overhears feel tense and awkward.

How to deal with office etiquette offenders

There are several things you can do to combat bad manners at the office

  • Stay calm. Avoid getting angry or emotional. If the bad manners are rare, and it’s clear the offender is having an off-day, a sympathetic or even humorous comment is the best way of making a colleague aware of their behaviour. Don’t take anything too seriously unless it is really necessary.
  • If the problem is persistent, meet with the person somewhere private and explain how their conduct is affecting you or affecting the office.
  • If the problem cannot be resolved face-to-face with the colleague, or the colleague resists criticism and their behaviour persists, make a grievance in accordance with your company’s grievance policy. Act at all times in accordance with the policy. However, always try to resolve issues in person first, unless it is inappropriate to do so.

Can you think of any other bad manners at work? How do you deal with them?


Office Etiquette | Send Business Centre