Coping with Poor Business Etiquette

Bad behavior can become an epidemic if left unchecked. It is often difficult for management to monitor office etiquette if everyone is on their best behavior when the boss walks by. This creates frustration among teammates when working with offenders.

There are a few simple strategies to help restore peace and professionalism to the workplace.

Be the example. In the infamous, and potentially misquoted, words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Everyone is a role model, especially management. In fact, managers can sometimes be “patient X” of the poor etiquette epidemic. Be friendly, helpful, and encouraging to colleagues.

Know the policies. Before intervening on bad behavior, check the employee handbook or with a human resource representative to ensure that you fully understand all the policies and procedures that are in place pertaining to this bad behavior.

Have a heart to heart. Calmly talk with the offender. Many times they are unaware that their actions are in poor taste or are negatively affecting others. Most people wish to perform well and to be seen in a positive light by their management. Having a conversation may be all that is needed in many cases.

Remember, you do not need to like everyone you work with and they do not need to like you, but you do need to be able to approach them appropriately, and be heard. Everyone in the office, personnel structure aside, should be able to peacefully coexist. Poor business etiquette impacts everyone’s productivity and morale. As a leader, it is important to lead by example when it comes to proper manners at work. You set the tone and tempo of all dealings within the office, whether work related or personnel related. Dealing with offenders can be intimidating, but doing so appropriately and consistently sets the standard for what is and is not acceptable, and it will ultimately help everyone in the end.