It’s the golden rule of life—treat others as you want to be treated. Well, the same goes for your behavior in the office. Whether you work in a cubicle or in an open workspace, follow these 5 basic etiquette rules to treat your coworkers with the respect they expect in a business setting.
1. Avoid Using Products or Eating Foods With Strong Scents
Whether it’s a good smell or a bad smell, strong odors can negatively affect the people around you. Although you may think leftover tuna smells fine, your coworker may feel sick at the slightest whiff of fish. And while that new cologne or lotion may smell like heaven to you, your neighbor may be susceptible to headaches from strong perfumes. Do them a favor and keep smelly foods confined to the breakroom and opt for lotions with little to no scent.
2. Do Not Pop Over Your Cubicle Wall Unannounced
Do you want to scare the living daylights out of your coworker? Because that’s how you scare the living daylights out of your coworker. Waltzing right up to someone who is focused on their work can startle them, and it can totally derail their train of thought. Rather than barging in without warning, take an extra 2 seconds to knock on your coworker’s cubicle wall or a nearby filing cabinet to alert them to your presence. Not only will this prevent you from frightening them, but it will also allow them to turn you down if they’re too busy to talk at that time.
3. Keep Your Workspace Tidy
It’s easy to let paperwork pile up when we’re hard at work, but your messy desk may negatively affect nearby coworkers—especially if you’re in an open concept workspace. Try to keep your desk as tidy as you would if you were expecting visitors into your home at any moment. Coats, sweaters, and purses should be placed in a wardrobe cabinet, while paperwork and files should be neatly tucked away in a filing drawer.
4. Watch the Volume on Your Headphones
Whether you’re listening to podcasts or music, make sure you use headphones and that the volume isn’t so loud all of your neighbors can hear your Justin Bieber obsession. The people around you are trying to concentrate on their work, and that’s tough to do with the constant distraction of top 40 hits.
5. Speak Clearly but Softly
It’s more than OK to collaborate with your neighbors, but take a quick look at the coworkers around you before launching yourself into a deep, loud conversation. If someone nearby is on the phone or is clearly trying to focus on their work, turn your voice down to a whisper or take your conversation elsewhere.