Ah, the office.
Whether big or small, every office has a mix of people from various walks of life, backgrounds, ages, socioeconomic statuses, and every other thing you can imagine. There are loads of things you can’t help in the office – like if someone likes you as a human being or simply hates the sounds of your voice – but there happens to be quite a few you can control.
These include, but certainly are not limited to:
Being rude or unkind.
A little bit of mannerly behaviour can go a very, very long way. The importance of simple things like holding the elevator, saying “please,” “thank-you,” and “excuse me”, or simply treating people with kindness cannot be overstated.
I worked with someone who was entirely incapable of being nice to the entire team before 1pm. Not being a morning person is not an excuse to be rude. I also worked with someone who commented on people’s lunches, how much they were eating, or made jokes about them showing up in the kitchen there were snacks. The person thought it was funny; the people at the butt of the joke rarely did.
In short: Don’t be a dick.
Speaking loudly on a phone call.
Always annoying but especially inappropriate if it’s a personal call, conducting a loud phone call in the middle of the work space is rude, distracting, and even uncomfortable for others. If you have a door, close it. If you don’t have a door, and you’re able to, step away from the work space into a meeting room or other area where you won’t disturb your neighbours.
Can’t step away? Lower your voice to a respectable decibel and – if it’s not urgent – ask your friend if you can call them back later.
Re/Heating pungent-smelling foods.
The smells from foods like microwave popcorn or re-heated fish can waft through an office faster than you can say “do you smell that?” and exactly zero people will thank you for it. Be mindful of others when prepping to mow down on your favourite snack of leftovers – and be especially careful about sensitivities (for example, to fish) before you throw that chowder in the microwave for two minutes on high.
Actually, just being smelly.
Unfortunately for all of us, scent is one of those sense that can really get you. Your sense of smell is actually the most powerful of all your five senses. Since the deep limbic center—the part of your brain that controls your emotions—is connected to your olfactory system, different scents can affect your mood or evoke certain memories and emotions.
In laymen’s terms, bad smells can actually put others in a bad mood, decrease work performance, and over time, their perception of you can be shaped by your funk.
Similarly, wearing heavy or overpowering scents (perfume or cologne) is totally off-putting at best and illness- or allergy-inducing at worst. Lay off the perfume, practice good personal hygiene, and maybe skip that super-sweaty workout at lunch if you won’t have time to shower.
Eating loud foods.
Much like the loud telephone call, no one wants to hear your lips smacking and your carrots crunching. As a carrot-loving human, this was a hard one for me to overcome, but I now make a concerted effort to eat my carrots behind a closed door or, if I can’t do that, asking if my neighbours mind.
Eating during non-meal meetings.
One of my biggest pet peeves is watching someone mow down on their lunch during a meeting – particularly with no disregard for smell or sound. I’m not talking about a cookie or a cup of coffee here, but your literal meal of leftover steak and potatoes.
You’re not so important you couldn’t take 15 minutes to eat your lunch elsewhere, dude. If you really must eat, ask your colleagues if they can give you a delay on the meeting start-time, or – at the very least – make sure no one minds.
Not respecting meeting start-times (and end-times).
Look, sometimes your day goes sideways and your can’t make it to the 1pm meeting right on time. A quick “running late” email or message goes a long way. But when someone becomes a repeat offender, never in the room on time (or prepared for the meeting), it’s disrespectful.
You don’t want your time being wasted – don’t waste the time of others.
Stealing someone’s food from the shared fridge.
This is a crime. Do not do it. The end.