Office Rules

Building good relationships between co-workers

   Let's face it, not all people play nice at work.
Not only is this a really good way not to advance in your profession, but it also makes for really long days for everyone.
   "The single most important thing to remember is to be considerate," said John Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.
   Really think about how your behavior affects others. Always be professional, but also be courteous, kind and understanding. Put the shoe on the other foot.
   Here are some tips from Challenger and Robert Half International, a staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices, for being a better co-worker:
.  Dial it down a notch. No matter what it is, reduce the volume of noises coming from your work space.
.  Keep your ego in check. Face it, most of your co-workers don't want to be subjected to the endless reasons why you're so great. Wait to really earn a compliment. And even then, don't force it.
.  Avoid office politics (Part 1). The office grapevine exists. Don't bite, even if it involves someone you don't like.
.  Clean up after yourself. Don't leave dirty dishes in the sink and food to rot in the fridge.
.  Silence it. The cell phone, that is. Vibrate is the key word here. No one wants to hear your cute little ring tone over and over and louder and louder.
.  Cut cube clutter. It's fine to have some personal items in your personal space but don't let your stuff spill over into someone else's space. And don't make the items on your desk too personal.
.  Avoid office politics (Part 2). Today's politically polarized environment makes discussing even the most innocuous issues a possible office controversy.
.  Temper your toxicity. Don't let moments of your unhappiness blanket the office. Keep it to yourself.
.  Good hygiene never fails. Scent-free offices seem to be the norm these days. But if yours isn't, just make sure you smell nice. Don't offend.
.  Keep the small talk small. It's important to bond with co-workers, but realize you are all there to do a job. By all means, share a quick story that will brighten their day but don't plop down in a chair for an hour.
"The best environments to work in are those where people really get along and have built friendships in the workplace," Challenger said. "However, if there ever is an issue between co-workers, it's very important to recognize it and repair it."
.  Never put others down to make yourself look better.
.  Don't send voice mails or e-mails that go on and on. Be concise. Make your messages succinct and clear.
.  Don't answer cell phone calls during meetings. However, if you are expecting an urgent call, let others know ahead of time.
.  Don't act like a bureaucrat. Making mountains out of molehills is certain to offend people.
.  Pay attention at meetings. Don't read the newspaper or hammer on you laptop. Stay focused and you might actually learn something.
.  Don't pay your bills or make personal calls at work. You are not being paid to manage your personal life.
.  Be conscious of your speech. "I'm like, you know, kinda thinking, sorta ..." is not going to take you far. You are your words.
.  Don't take the "casual" in business casual to the extreme. While office attire has changed over the years, office etiquette still rules. While you may be comfortable in flip-flops and shorts, save them for the beach. Use common sense.
.  Don't close the door. A constantly shut door says, "Don't bother me ... ever!" Certainly there are times when a closed door is necessary for confidentiality, but if you just need some quiet, leave the door ajar with a note letting people know they are free to knock at any time.
.  Don't act unethically. It's easy to draw the line on major violations, but what about just taking home a pen? Toe the line and set the bar high.
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