How to Practice Office Etiquette

Most of the time, etiquette is never taught.  It is something that you need to observe and follow.  Each organization has its own culture and set of etiquettes that you need to follow in order to succeed in your career.  Here are some tips on practicing office etiquette.

Monitor your voice volume

Observe how your co-workers talk to each other.  Be sensitive on how loud your speaking voice may be in the office.  Notice how other people comment on your conversations, which may indicate how loud your voice is.  Consider lowering your voice or closing your office door whenever speaking in person or on the telephone.

Keep phone calls brief

Be mindful that you are in a place of business.  Talking to your sister on the telephone about fixing the broken TV, or anything that is not related to your job, is inappropriate.  Never use the company telephone, fax, or e-mail for any personal matters.

Do not listen to other people’s conversations

Privacy may be hard to find in the workplace, but when your co-workers talk about something private and you are not part of the conversation, try not to snoop.  Treat all workplace conversations professionally.

Share professional information, but not gossip

Discuss personal matters directly with specific co-workers and managers, but do not tell about it to everyone else in the office.  Sharing professional information, however, is very much tolerated.

Avoid wearing "heavy" scents

Faint-smelling cologne can be okay. However, if you notice about other people react on your very strong floral cologne, maybe you need to lighten up the application before you turn the office into a potpourri.  Speaking of potpourri, ask your co-workers if it is okay for them to install fresh flowers and potpourri on your workspace.

Avoid foods with strong smells

The reason why offices have cafeterias and pantries is because the company does not want to the workplace to reek with the aromas of French fries, Chinese food, Indian food, even dried fish.  Dispose empty food containers, and eat your smelly food in the pantry.

Keep your workspace clean

When it comes to decorating your workspace, less is definitely more.  Be discrete when displaying your personal items like family photos and other mementos.  This is to prevent overdoing your decoration, as well as avoiding the clutter and obstruction to your work area.

Use shared areas with respect and courtesy

Workers share common areas in the office, such as the pantry, the restrooms, and even on some workstations (when one works in the morning and the other at night).  Do not expect your co-workers to clean up their mess, but that does not mean you ignore taking the initiative of cleaning the space. 

When leaving food items in a shared refrigerator, mark all items with your name and date, then remove all items at the end of your work week.  Wipe the countertop and sink of any spilled water or soap, as well as make sure that the toilet is clean for the next user.  Notify the proper attendant if supplies are either low or out, as well as any plumbing problems.

Give back borrowed items as new as possible

Return borrowed supplies as if they were new.  Leave the photocopier in working condition, making sure that you have returned the staples as well.

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