When I think of workplace etiquette I think of the time a coworker unknowingly insulted me by insinuating that I was unmarried because I was not “marriage material” a lady told me one day. In some African communities, some people view other people as marriage worthy and some as not. The lady in question is a free spirit and the coworker was trying to explain that in Africa, some communities are not as tolerant to free spirits and would not want free spirit daughters in law in their families. The coworker unknowingly offended this young lady she didn’t want to interact with him and she said she avoided him at all costs. Some of us, just like the marriage material free information sharing coworker have insulted or said something uncomfortable to our coworkers and they did not say anything but they were uncomfortable or offended nonetheless.
While it is commendable to at least interact and if comfortable socialise with coworkers, it is also recommended to try and not cross lines. While some lines are crossed unintentionally or unknowingly the following tips will help you stay in line when interacting with coworkers.
- Never ask them how much they are making – even if you are best friends, best buddies, even if your intentions are not motivated by competition and or jealousy, whatever angle you will ask this from, it will not come out right or professional.
- Never tell a coworker that you thought they were not going to get that promotion or project. Whether you are saying this because of management bias or office politics or you mean it as a compliment(if that’s possible) you are probably adding fuel to the fire and they might not tell you so because they don’t want to appear hurt or bothered but deep down you might have added 10 to a hundred.
- If possible, stay away from talking about a coworker’s physical fitness. Suggestions that a co-worker should join the gym, eat this or that to get on top of a situation, nomatter how noble or life-saving your suggestion might be, it might just offend them. Let them lead the conversation if your find yourself stuck in it.
- Never make suggestions on what coworkers should do with their children. Socilitated advice or not, kids are a sensitive topic to most parents, even if they are leading the conversation complaining about their children, truth is, they can only hear their own negative comments about their children, if it comes from someone else, it becomes an issue.
- Do not add fuel to the office politics fire. We cant talk about workplace etiquette without talking about office politics. As suggested in the previous article, its always a good idea to not fuel the office politics fire and this includes spreading rumours, making comments on ongoing feuds in the workplace etc, By doing this you are not stepping on any toes even the toes of those you don’t like because we all need each other one way or the other.