1. Introduce Yourself and Remember Names
Whenever you switch jobs or get promoted to a new team, it’s only right that you introduce yourself to the people who are there. Sure, you could argue that they should be the ones introducing themselves to you—but you can’t control what others do. As an adult, you may as well take the first step and start building relationships from day one. That said, when someone new joins your team or workplace, be the first to reach out to them.
And once you’re acquainted, don’t forget their names! I’ll be the first to admit that names often slip through one ear and out the other because I’m more focused on what to say next, whether I’m making any social mis-steps, etc. But that’s why I’ve learned to put even more effort into learning and remembering names. Trust me, people will appreciate it!
2. Let People Work
When you’ve become comfortable with co-workers, sometimes the line between personal relationship and business relationship can get blurred. It’s fine to get chummy with people, especially if they like your company and reciprocate, but you have to give them space at work. Spontaneous conversations can derail trains of thought, distract them from important tasks, and lead to trouble down the road.
3. Use Your Indoor Voice
Voices can travel quite far, especially if you have a naturally deep or shrill voice, and especially if you work in an open office environment. Again, it’s important to be courteous to your co-workers; they deserve to have a non-distracting work environment where they can get stuff done. If people can hear you from the next room over, or through the walls, or across the hallway, then you need to be mindful and turn it down several notches.
4. Mind Your Personal Hygiene
Nothing will make your co-workers more uncomfortable—or even disgusted—than poor hygiene, except for perhaps deeply unprofessional behavior. Don’t brush your teeth or floss? They’ll smell it. Don’t take a shower before going in? They’ll smell it. Don’t wash your clothes on a regular basis? They’ll smell it! And the worst thing about poor hygiene is that you might be oblivious to what you smell like, but everyone else will be keenly aware. Take care of yourself—not solely for their sake, but also for the sake of your own health.
5. Wear Cologne or Perfume Lightly
Too much of a good thing can absolutely be bad. You ever get nauseated by an overly sweet, overly cloying scent? I mean, I love the smell of cookies baking in the oven, but one time I spilled vanilla extract in my car and it made me wretch for weeks. The same goes for your cologne or perfume: it may smell amazing in small doses, but no one wants to be smothered by your signature scent. When in doubt, spray according to the golden rule: “Fragrances should be discovered, not announced.”
For fragrance ideas, check out these awesome men’s colognes to wear to the office.
6. Stick to Inoffensive Lunches
Hygiene, fragrances, and lunch make up the trifecta of workplace smells that can easily repulse your co-workers. You may be entitled to a packed lunch every day—and I highly recommend it as a good way to be frugal—but it’s common courtesy to avoid bringing in stinky cheeses, fishes, soups, anything fermented, etc.
7. Keep Your Workspace Tidy
A clean workspace is simply more pleasant to look at than one that’s suffocating under piles of papers, books, or—God forbid—garbage. You don’t have to go all out with plants, photos, and other niceties. Just do your best to keep everything organized, and always throw out your trash instead of letting it pile up.
8. Use Headphones or Take It Outside
You might think you have impeccable taste in music, but many people won’t share those opinions. In fact, even if they do like the same kind of music as you, that doesn’t mean they appreciate you using your phone or computer as a boombox. This kind of ties back into Point #2 (let your co-workers work!) but it’s just an overall act of courtesy to keep in mind whenever you’re in public.
And if you have to take a phone call, try to take it in an inconspicuous space—like the hallway, a side room, or even outside if you have quick access to an exit.
9. The Conference Room Isn’t Your Office
Every office has their own rules and culture regarding use of conference rooms (and other shared spaces). Nonetheless, you should never claim a certain area for yourself, especially not an entire room. You might prefer to do work in the conference room than in your cramped little cubicle, but others might feel the same way. Live and let live; use it when you can, don’t hog it.
10. Stay Home If You’re Sick and Contagious
This one’s tricky because some workplaces expect you to work when you’re sick. I know this, and I would never advocate for something that could get you fired. However, assuming you aren’t employed in a toxic work environment, and assuming you don’t need every single hour of work you can get to scrape by, it’s right to use your sick hours when you’re actually sick. They’re meant to be used so that you don’t spread your sickness to the rest of the office. Care for their health as you care for your own.