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Curbing Bad Manners In The Workplace

Can we talk about bad manners? I mean the “down and dirty- super annoying- how do you keep your job” bad manners.  It’s the stuff that stops you dead in your tracks and makes you wonder if the person just fell off the turnip truck or crawled out from under a rock.  You know exactly what- and, WHO- I’m talking about, right?

I hate to even talk about this subject.  Really, I do.  It’s reminiscent of the time I had to have the “hygiene talk” with an employee.  There’s nothing fun about it.  It feels trite and naggy, but it’s driving wedges between workplaces.  So, talk we must.  If we share these things, there is a chance that we’ll raise the awareness and conscientious behavior will emerge. We can certainly hope!

So, this week we’re going to reveal some uncomfortable and awkward truths about human nature.  Chances are you will recognize someone you know in these words.  Additionally, you may not realize it, but there's a good chance you're doing at least one thing that drives your co-workers nuts, too.  You didn’t expect that left turn, did you?

I was reading an article, this weekend, that mentioned the common annoyances that we all do unknowingly, which end up pushing others away.  It caused me to pause because, on any given day, I can be guilty of any of them.  Do any of these look familiar?

Making an unreasonable amount of noise

Causing chaos in places that are peaceful or calm

Being a source of strong smells

Engaging in excessive chit chat

Doing things that gross people out

Touching too much or in unwanted ways

Invading others personal space

This article really got me thinking about the way I interact with others, while also putting a spotlight on the behaviors of others around me; my radar started working over-time. 

Within minutes, I noticed a few things:

I was reading a Facebook post where a server asked the table to hurry up and pay because he wanted to go home.

That’s bad, right?

I was conversing via text and the person would not engage and instead answered everything in one-word answers. Because it was about a business transaction, I expected a bit more formality and professionalism.

This is weird, right?

I was speaking with someone who said that he went to his kid’s job and told off the employer because he had been rude to his son.

Not normal, right?

This blog isn’t to gripe and complain, but to get a little dialogue going so we can identify some of the basic principles/laws of the land/super obvious rules of the road expectations of each other, in the workplace.  Because we have four different generations attempting to work together and corporate formality is shifting, we have some blurry areas that may need to be sharpened up, a bit.

Following are 10 general rules of thumb that I think we can all agree to.  At least I hope we can.  I’d love to have you add to this list because I’m positive that I’ve forgotten a ton.

1.  Curb your incessant complaining (I know what you’re thinking… this is dialog, not a complaint!) But, really, the curmudgeonry is exhausting and we don’t want to engage in it.  This isn’t the place and it’s really not helping.  Check it.  If you think you’re being funny, but it’s really just negativity, you better think about how you’re making those around you feel.  We’re tired… please stop.

2.  Call someone by the name they’ve given you upon introduction. Don’t shorten it to a nickname until they’ve given you the signal that it’s appropriate or you’ve reached that level of familiarity. And, I’m begging you, don’t use Honey, Babe, Sweetie, or Darlin unless you’re pals.  Them are fightin’ words, these days.

3.  Don’t Reply To All.  For the love of all things holy, do not do it.  I mean it.  We’ll find you.

4.  Try hard to remember names.  Forgetting someone’s name is very telling about the listener’s character.  And, NO, “I’m bad with names” is not an excuse.  It’s self-centered and shallow.

5.  Don’t speak louder to people with accents.  While we’re at it, don’t speak loudly to your food server because you have ridiculous expectations about your short lunch.  And, don’t be The Loud Guy that I have to drown out with headphones, in the office. Watch your volume. We’re all just trying to get by, here.

6.  Practice your handshake.  Firm that sucker up.  I don’t care if you are a woman or you are preparing to shake a woman’s hand—give it all you’ve got, dang it. I’m reading you and sizing you up, from moment one, and I promise you that the handshake is important.

7.  Don’t go on and on and on and on and on when it comes to anything.  Keep your voicemail at 30 seconds. Respect the listener’s/ reader’s/ audience’s time.  Tighten it up.  Get to the point.  Chop-chop.

8.  Work on being gracious.  People make mistakes and they don’t need to be constantly reminded of, ridiculed for, or embarrassed about their faux pas.  Give them a pass.  A little grace goes a very long way.

9.  Don’t interrupt.  Seriously, just don’t. You may not have told me verbally to Shut Up, but your behavior spoke loud and clear.  Not okay.  Ever. Wait your turn, Speed Racer.

10.  Check your non-verbals: look me in the eye, smile, face me when we’re speaking, don’t fidget, don’t check that text, don’t even think about answering the phone, stay dialed into the conversation, and look like you’re interested.  Easy peasy.

Here are a few other gems that I found from PR Daily who asked, “What drives you crazy in the workplace?”

When people finish my sentences

When people chew gum loudly

When people type on the computer while we’re talking

Mumbling on a voicemail

Write their “Out of office” with spelling errors


Speaking too quickly on voicemail

Repeating everything several times

Nervous giggling

Trying to impress by topping everything I say

Giving monotone presentations

Eating while on the phone

Forgetting to update their outbound messages upon leaving for, or returning from, vacation

Walking like an elephant


Leaving messes in the break room

Taking care of personal hygiene at your desk

Acting as the self-appointed office police

Yikes! Are you guilty of any?  The truth is, we all are, at times.  The key is to raise your self-awareness so that you can be conscious of how you make other people feel.  I remember watching Michael Scott from the TV show, The Office, say “If you don’t know who the annoying person in the office is… you’re it”.

We don’t want to be IT, right?

A little bit of focus on our workplace manners will go a long way to making our relationships, and our workspaces, so much more enjoyable.  Give us your additional pet peeves in the comments so that we can all raise our awareness and behaviors.  The more we have dialogue around some of these sticky topics, the better we are able to work together, moving forward.

Okay, phew... this incredibly important, but totally naggy blog post is officially in the coffer.


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