How to behave in the office

Posted: 2020-12-10

Your work colleagues are like a family away from home: you laugh, you love, you often argue or disagree, and you see them nearly every day. However, just because the people and the situation are familiar, doesn’t mean that behaviour at home is ok behaviour in the office.

Do – Talk about non-work topics:

Office chit-chat can become incredibly boring if it only remains work related. So, ask your colleagues how their weekends or evenings were. Ask them what they’re reading or where they plan to go on holiday next. You’re working with these people day in day out: they’re not robots. Find a vein of familiar interests and enquire.

Don’t – Talk about everything BUT work:

You are still there to do a job. Yes, the Eastenders omnibus was great, but those spreadsheets aren’t going to do themselves.

Do – Have banter:

A healthy amount of banter is a good thing in a group and there’s no reason why it cannot be utilised in an office. Obviously, tailor it to the person or people but the mood can be greatly alleviated with some gentle joking and tomfoolery.

Don’t – Take it too far:

Know your audience – what may be funny to one colleague may upset another. There’s a huge difference between the humour of Tim Vine and Jimmy Carr so leave the risqué and edgy stuff at home. Push it too far and you may find yourself in a meeting with HR wondering what went wrong.

Do – Bring in snacks:

So the saying goes, it’s better to give than to receive, so why not surprise your colleagues with a batch of cookies or a tub of Quality Street? Even if you’re in your dream job, there will always be bad days, so make those days better with a nice gesture to your co-workers.

Don’t – Eat all the snacks:

There’s always that one person: the one that eats all the snacks, all the treats, all the birthday cakes, while never once bringing in goodies themselves. Don’t be that person.

Do – Admit when you’re wrong:

Have some humility. We all make mistakes and no matter how major or minor, you need to own them. From placing the incorrect link in an email to sending a redundancy letter to the wrong person, you need let the relevant people know before things get worse. On the plus side, it will ensure you never make the same mistake twice.

Don’t – Blame others:

If you’ve been blamed for something you didn’t do, ignore this. However, if you’re willing to throw someone under the bus for your own error, you have no place working in a team environment. We understand pride can be a terrible thing, but you’ll have much more respect if you accept when you’re wrong.

Do – Be open:

You should always try to separate your personal and professional life, but sometimes it’s just not possible, and you need to talk to someone. It’s preferable this goes to a manager but there should be no reason why you can’t open up to someone about what’s on your mind. A colleague not pulling their weight? Raise your concerns. Issues at home that may make you distracted at work? Talk to your boss about what’s happening.

Don’t – Be overly open:

There is a line to this though. Just because it’s important to ease your mind on things, doesn’t mean you should tell everything to everyone. And some colleagues may just not be as comfortable listening to your problems as others. This is why, when any issue arises, to talk to your manager first. Don’t stand up in the middle of the office and declare you have a bowel condition. It’s not necessary.