The office etiquette rules that no-one talks about (but we all should obey anyway)

The office etiquette rules that no-one talks about (but we all should obey anyway)

Despite good intentions, you come across bad office etiquette once in a while. Or perhaps, the work is a little easy for people - too easy to the point that people need to gossip just to kill the boredom. Perhaps people are too stressed.

Regardless of the reason, these bad office etiquettes are never good things - both for the company productivity, as well as the social dynamics within the department altogether.

Remember also that the people in your office are also the people you'll most probably spend most of your weekdays around, so here are some habits that are frowned upon in office settings, and how to avoid or mitigate it.

You're excessively introverted


There is nothing wrong with being an introverted person who is happy being left alone.

However, when you frequently pass up company events and lunches with colleagues, you may have brushed off acquaintances who might become your close friends or potential investors or founders of your company!

Also, it's just a little rude to decline every single lunch and event that people offer you.

Sure, you can be busy with work. But in your enthusiasm to clear all your work for the day, every day, it can potentially give people the wrong impression of you.

If you think you're doing that, try making it a point to connect with your colleagues. It doesn't have to be anything fancy - offer them some food from your cupboard, have a short chat whilst taking a break.

These not only helps you alleviate stress, it will open new opportunities and avenues to receive help, and get constructive feedback. Besides, wouldn't it be good to have a lunch buddy on the weekdays?

You react less-than-well to sudden change and situations.


In the workforce, sudden or rapid changes can, and will happen, i.e. your boss asks you to do a last minute project, you're only to do something someone else's way and not yours… you get the picture.

While it isn't necessarily a bad thing, this can usually cause people in the organisation to form an impression of you being rigid and inflexible. This won't reflect well in some cases, especially if you're up for a promotion or getting a new position elsewhere.

While changing stance from this mind-set is relatively difficult in any case, perhaps instead you could take a step back, and consider another perspective. Sure, we can get a little slighted depending on how the person phrases the question.

But, when someone asks you to do something their way (usually the more senior members of the company will ask for that), it is usually because they have done it that way before, and worked.

There is more than one way to solve a problem; perhaps the way they asked is the fastest, most economical way. Doing this will earn you the respect of many of your peers and seniors in the company as well!

You're the gossip-monger.

Perhaps the most common office etiquette issue - gossiping behind people's back. While that is generally normal, it isn't normal when YOU are the head gossiper. I suppose this can count as bonding too much with your colleagues.

This one is probably the easiest to correct. Simply put, dial back on the talking. We can all start by talking about more positive things instead - recent accomplishments by your colleagues' children, their own little victories etc.

Isn't it better to spread positivity around rather than put people down behind their back?

Failing which, if that doesn't work out, simple find a way to excuse yourself from the gossip. Gossiping can often lead to unnecessary office tension and inter-department conflicts, something that any company can do without at all.

You're not shy in voicing your opinions.

Fancy getting into a heated debate over politics, government and just about anything under the sun?

While some people do enjoy getting passionate and delve deep into their debates and reasons for supporting/not supporting whatever issue, what we think is passion, others might see as confrontational/aggressive.

This can lead to people gossiping behind your back at work, and worse still, alienate you at work altogether.

While you should keep that passion for what you truly love, please understand that not everyone shares that same passion and excitement as you do.

Some people merely just want to go through the motions and have a non-argumentative work day.

Reserve your energy for the real debates at the science fairs or symposiums! Actually, you can even do that in your interviews, but don't overpower the interviewer, okay?

You complain a lot. Really a lot.


We all complain - from how the water should be hotter when we shower, to how poorly the pickles are arranged on the plate. It happens to even the best mannered of people!

However, there are some people who do complain excessively all the time about everything - how the boss doesn't care about your work, how the pantry is always dirty, how small the cubicles are… you get the picture.

Again, it happens to the best of us. However, we've learnt that complaining lesser is actually good for us, as can be seen in this post. However, it's not easy - you'll literally have to catch your tongue before the complaint comes out! If you really can't complain less, you can complain to yourself.

That usually helps in reducing the bad impressions people form of you (I mean if you complain to yourself, you can only judge yourself, right?)

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