CareerWritten by Beverly Creamer On 15 November 2011
Office Courtesy Can Vault Your Career Forward, a new Survey Finds

So you think you know how to behave in the office? That’s good, because it could help your career.

Almost half of those responding to a new survey by Robert Half International, a specialized staffing services firm, felt that being courteous to others in the office can move your career forward.

The same survey also discovered that some serious etiquette blunders occur in the office, including some who clip their nails at their desks, at least one who purposefully sneezed in the boss’s coffee cup, and someone who carries his cell phone conversations into the restroom with him.

While 48 percent of those responding felt that a person’s courteous office behavior could “greatly” accelerate their advancement, another 41 percent said it played “somewhat” of a role though skills played a bigger part. Another 10 percent felt it had no impact at all.

The survey included interviews with more than 430 workers, and also asked them to share some of the worst etiquette blunders they’ve observed. The list included:

  • Someone who stole other people’s lunches from the employee lounge area.
  • During collaboration on a project, an employee yelled ‘Forget this!” and threw all the papers she was holding into the air and walked out.
  • Someone who didn’t get what they wanted, loudly hung up on a conference call.
  • An employee screaming at a customer.

Advice on etiquette from the global firm includes:

  • Although a coworker may do something that irritates you, take a minute to collect your thoughts before firing off a rude or hurtful email. Losing your cool can only worsen your problems.
  • Keep it PG-rated. When you wonder if you should say something or not, that’s your internal voice telling you to skip it. Off-color comments and salty language can get you in trouble.
  • Confine personal grooming activities to your home — or the restroom. The goal is not to offend your peers.
  •  Address problems with coworkers head-on, and in private.

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About Author

Beverly Creamer

A long-time Hawaii writer, formerly with The Honolulu Advertiser, and earlier, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. University of Hawaii graduate; Canadian born.

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