Tongue In Cheek: Etiquette and manners in the workplace
Tongue In Cheek: Etiquette and manners in the workplace
Post written by Paragon Interiors   July 13, 2018


Despite the fact that it’s 2018 and Queen Victoria, the doyenne of all things right and proper, has been dead for more than a century, office decorum is far from being a thing of the past. There are still certain norms and parameters that are appropriate and some that aren’t.

For starters, no one wants to know about your sex life, however adventurous it may be. Nor your latest bout of Whipple’s disease, your haemorrhoids, the current tally of eye candy at your gym or that your neighbour’s daughter is a bit of a floozy with a boyfriend of dubious character and intentions.

There are just some things best kept to oneself. Almost every office has an eager bloodhound who can pick up the scent of a juicy titbit, scare up a story and embellish it with all manner of falsehoods. Great Facebook fodder for all the world to see, manipulate and share. Before you can whistle Dixy, you’ll have earned the reputation of a being a closet ex-con, a sex predator, a psychopath, an illegal immigrant or the latest suspect most wanted by SARS.

Speaking of money, it’s highly inappropriate to ask a colleague how much he or she earns. It’s also unspeakably rude. So, keep your nose out of other people’s business or a snotty letter of warning may wing its way to your desk.

For all the office yappers, go back to your desk. Every employee has a professional obligation to protect their work time. It’s very difficult to get a word in when a yapper enters your personal space and draws breath to deliver a barrage of drivel. Avoid the temptation to leap up and stuff a sock in their pie hole. The trick is to carry on with what you’re doing for a few seconds, look up and tell them to sod off, you’re busy. Well, in truth, it may be kinder to smile and confess that you’re too busy for a chat and you’ll catch up during the lunch break.

And then there’s the complainers. Seriously, if you put them up in the presidential suite at The Savoy in London, the curtains would be the wrong colour. Have you noticed that they never listen to advice and continue to behave like disgruntled hamsters unwilling to crawl off their broken wheels? To the complainers, get on with your work or make an appointment to see your manager to air your grievances. If it’s a personal gripe, discuss it out of work hours. To mooch around whining during work hours is about as welcome as using a puff adder as a camping mattress. If you find yourself the go-to listener, it’s incredibly annoying and disruptive so speak up and assert yourself. You may like to point out that complaining is a career-limiting habit with concomitant salary expectations. If that doesn’t shake ‘em up, brandish your Taser and narrow your eyes.

It’s also extremely disrespectful to arrive at work late or looking like you’ve crawled out of a land fill. How you dress for life is your business, how you dress for work is the company’s business. BTW, scuffed shoes are considered a sign that your life is in disarray so, for your own self-respect, keep them polished and gleaming with an eye on your future.

Speaking of dress code, we find it a tad disconcerting to see women who still cling to the hope that their cleavage is capable of recharging their mobile phones. Also, low rise trousers that barely cover the hip bone do not lend themselves well to sitting or bending. Employers are unlikely to regard as winsome, a tattoo that reads ~ free ~ floating over the base of a female employee’s spine. Chances are the new and rowdy intern will take it as an invitation and lest it’s escaped anyone’s attention, sexual harassment issues are unwelcome in the workplace. Likewise, guys with low slung jeans where the crotch hangs between the knees have trouble sitting or bending without showing the ever-charming plumber’s smile. Not comical. Gross.

Every company has different policies on a number of behavioural and etiquette issues. If you hope to go places, you’d do well to respect and adhere to them. Be assertive – learn how and when to take a stand, when to speak up and when to back off. Rest assured, the yappers, gossips, complainers and rebels are about as likely to be promoted as Trump and Putin are to become NBFs.