The proliferation of social media and downsizing office space has meant there are more ways than ever to trip up when it comes to your career. Here are six less commonly discussed office faux pas. Ignore at your peril! (For more, see 10 Office Exercises To Combat Stress And Weight Gain.)
IN PICTURES: Dealing With 9 Coworker Personality Conflicts
- Making Business Personal
Your IT team may have blocked Facebook from your desktop, but just because you're not using social media websites during work time doesn't mean you can't be fired over them. Blogging, Facebooking or tweeting about your job or coworkers is a serious no no. "New Rules @ Work" author Barbara Pachter, says criticizing your employer on social media sites is the number one costly blunder employees make. Many employees have been fired for making disparaging comments about their jobs, such as Starbucks' Matthew Brown, who was terminated for posting profanity-laced remarks about a manager and the company on his blog.
- Rabble Rousing
Inappropriate comments about the office shouldn't be made outside the office - and definitely not in the office. It's surprising how unabashedly candid some employees can be around the water cooler when it comes to their opinion about the new boss or a new corporate direction. However, frequently being involved in discussions about negative topics may lead higher ups to consider you insubordinate, even if you felt you were just one of many vocalizing complaints. Look to the proper channels to instigate change, or keep your opinions to yourself.
- Working Too Much Overtime
Not only is working too much overtime bad for your health, it's bad for your reputation. A study published in the online European Heart Journal found that people who consistently worked three or more hours more than a normal, eight-hour day, had a 60% higher risk of heart-related problems. Plus, if your boss feels your workload doesn't warrant extra hours, putting in significantly more hours than your coworkers will make you look incompetent.
- Slogans and Short Skirts
A low-cut shirt or miniskirt isn't the only dress code violation that can lead to awkwardness, a reprimand or firing. Many an employee has been sent home to change after wearing clothing with racial, homophobic, misogynistic or religious messages. What one employee finds humorous another may find offensive. Leave your "Jesus is my Homeboy" t-shirt in the drawer for the weekend and remember to check the mirror before leaving for the office.
- Respect Others' Space (Even When There Is None)
Your desk may be in a cube pod within earshot of six other employees, but office etiquette dictates you must pretend as though you didn't hear the personal conversation they just had on the phone with their spouse or mother-in-law. Never ask a cube-mate a question about what a call was about, or comment on something they discussed while on the phone. Even work-related conversations held in the cube which don't directly include you should be treated as though they were in another room. It's weird, yes, but weirder if you become the person always intruding into other people's calls and conversations. (For more, check out Dealing With 10 Coworker Personality Conflicts.)
- Calling In
If you're sick, stay home. Don't be a hero and head in to the office to spread your germs and make everyone else sick too. Conversely, if you're healthy, go to work! Calling in sick to play hooky might be safe enough if you don't leave your house. But run just one quick errand and you're sure to run into someone who will post on your Facebook page how nice it was to see you at the mall that day. Or worse yet, you may not realize one of your Twitter followers is from accounting and tattles on your tweet reviewing the afternoon matinée.
The Bottom Line
Don't sleep with your supervisor. Don't get drunk at the corporate Christmas party. Don't wear cleavage baring shirts or douse yourself in cologne. These are just a few of the obvious rules when it comes to office faux pas, but the less obvious ones are just as important. Be sure to avoid the missteps above when navigating the minefield of office etiquette. (Trying to land that dream job? Make sure to read the 7 Things You Should Say In An Interview.)
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