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It’s Monday morning and a pretty dreary one at that as it’s pouring out. The weather here in Singers has been absolutely unpredictable – one minute it’s hot and humid, and the next it’s pouring cats and dogs. This morning, it stormed on my way to work and thank God, I was driving and not riding my scooter.
I got into the office in a bit of a funk only to find that the aircon has been turned up and the fan speed lowered.
I am not sure about other places but where I come from (other jobs that is), central airconditioning is the norm. And, if you are feeling cold, you’ve gotta layer on more. In this office however, the airconditioning isn’t centrally controlled and where I sit, the remote is held (ransom) by another colleague.
On days like today, when it’s supposed to be colder and much more bearable for the ‘polar bears’ like me, the temperature is turned up so high, I sweat buckets because it becomes so stuffy and uncomfortable. Sometimes, I think I’m a child labourer in a sweatshop, oppressed by stale air.
In moments like these, I wonder about office etiquette and how long I can remain calm in a place like this. I wonder how to braoch this subject without offending anyone. As it is, I’ve already got my own fan blowing at me but it’s just not enough when all it does is circulate hot air, but being denied any level of airconditioning is just painful on every level. To illustrate my point, check out an excerpt from Dilbert below.
It gets me thinking about office etiquette and some guidelines I remember reading once. I know it is relative and possibly even not quite related to holding the aircon remote hostage but here are the 10 commandments of office etiquette:
1. Thou shalt have a positive attitude. Everybody has bad days. Nobody has the right to take it out on others. Rudeness, impoliteness, surliness, ugly moods, unprovoked displays of anger, and general unpleasantness can be costly to your career – and your company’s bottom line.
2. Thou shalt be on time. Keeping others waiting is the ultimate power play – whether it’s a meeting, an email, a telephone call, or that charmingly Jurassic example of business behavior, a letter. In the end, it’s self-defeating. Everybody’s busy. Everybody’s time is valuable. Being late only makes you look like you don’t have your act together.
3. Thou shalt praise in public and criticise in private. If you intend to improve a situation or someone’s performance, public criticism is the worst approach. It serves no purpose except to humiliate the other person, and possibly lead to cut-throat retaliation. Remember that the office gossip looks far worse than those being gossiped about.
4. Thou shalt get names straight. We all forget people’s names. There is nothing wrong with saying: “Please tell me your name again. My brain just went on strike.” But there is something wrong with not checking on correct spelling whenever you write a name. That’s lazy. It can cost your career. And remember, it’s a big mistake to assume you can call somebody by his or her first name. We have four generations working in a truly global marketplace. Each generation feels differently about using first names.
5. Thou shalt speak slowly and clearly on the telephone. Texting makes us forget how we sound, or when we speed-talk. Again, remember those four generations in the work arena, as well as the diversity of cultures. A smile can be heard in your voice. So smile or you will sound irritated and put out. Not a good move when business is on the line.
6. Thou shalt not use foul language. KIND is the only four-letter word for the workplace. Don’t accept vulgarity, poor grammar and slang as your personal standards. They are three of the top reasons people don’t get hired. On the other hand, liberal use of “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” can be most helpful in one’s career ascent.
7. Thou shalt dress appropriately. Don’t enter your workplace without knowing its dress code. If you must, call the human resources department and ask. Good grooming is at least 10 times more important than making a fashion statement. Good taste and fashion are not always synonymous.
8. Thou shalt take clear messages. It pays to take time to be sure the messages you take are clear, correct and complete.
9. Thou shalt honour social courtesies at business functions. Etiquette is just a matter of common sense with a large dose of kindness. Make sure you respond to invitations promptly and never bring an uninvited guest without permission. Never be a no-show when you said you’d show. Good guests contribute as much to a party as good hosts.
10. Thou shalt be accountable. We all make mistakes. That does not give us licence to blame someone else for them. There is no shame in admitting you don’t have all the answers. Yet there is shame in not being willing to look for them.
I don’t think it’s quite necessary to come up with 10 commandments for the office. I’ve always figured most people to have a similar sense of right and wrong and what’s politically correct but after working in this office, I have learnt that it is possible some people really just don’t know. What are your office experiences like?