24 Simple Workplace Etiquette Tips to Improve Your Life

Why Do Manners Matter?

This sounds like a question you would ask in a kindergarten class, but there are plenty of grown ups who don’t understand that using good manners and being polite actually helps daily routines to run more smoothly.  Treating people and property  with respect takes just a little bit of effort, but the payoff can be a much happier and productive workplace.  In some of my other posts, I’ve mentioned that I am, in fact, still part of the full time workforce.  Yes, I have not broken totally free yet, but I’m getting there.  Today I thought I’d write something that could really serve my fellow workers.  What follows are some simple workplace etiquette rules, tips, and guidelines that even an idiot should be able to follow and understand (not that you’d have any of them working with you).

Office Etiquette for Dummies

Now, I don’t want to have a bitter tone, really.  But there are some things that people do that just amaze me.  Am I wrong in assuming that there are some things that you should know by the time you enter kindergarten?  You know, things like clean up after yourself and don’t take other people’s stuff?  We used to call it common courtesy, but itetiquette at work doesn’t seem to be too common anymore.  Maybe I’m just out of touch.  I see that there are actually Powerpoints and videos available for addressing this topic, so I guess it’s pretty bad.  Anyway, here is a list of workplace etiquette rules that is suitable for framing or taping on to the wall or a table in your lunch room.  Good manners for adults…

  • Kitchen etiquette at work.  You aren’t six years old.  I really don’t want to spend five minutes cleaning up your crumbs and drippings after you’ve left.  If there is a sink and you use dishes or cups, clean them.  I’m not your Mama.
  • Wash your hands after you go to the bathroom.  Yes, I’m writing this because there is one guy where I work who I’ve seen leave the bathroom several times without washing his hands after “taking care of business” and then head straight to the lunch room.  Gross.
  • Whistling at work.  Just please don’t.  Keep that song in your heart and we’ll all be happier.  You’re not working with Snow White.
  • Pooping at work etiquette.  Also known as “restroom etiquette in the workplace.”  If you make a “mess”, for Pete’s sake, don’t leave it for me to find.  Really.  We had a person who did this at work.  It didn’t take long for an informal “task force” to be formed with the mission of figuring out who “The Phantom” was.  We’re not going to clap for you when we find what you left.  Please flush (twice if needed).
  • Use proper phone etiquette in the workplace.  When you answer the telephone, “Yeah?” just doesn’t cut it.  It’s unprofessional and it makes you sound like a moron.  Take three seconds to let me know who I’m speaking to.  It could be as simple as “Hello.  Human resources.  This is Skippy speaking.”  Now was that so hard?  Get yourself some phone manners.
  • Shake hands like you mean it.  When you are introduced to someone, offer your hand and give them a firm handshake.  None of that cold, limp fish stuff either.  It gives the first impression that you are some type of weak minded weasel.
  • Address others at work in a respectful manner.  When you are introduced to someone, along with offering a handshake, you should introduce yourself and say hello to the person.  When you do this, use the other person’s full name until they give you the OK to just call them by their first name.  It might go something like this…


Office manager:  Mr. Skippy McMillan, I’d like to introduce you to our newest associate, Ms. Suzy Snowflake!

You:  Hello Ms. Snowflake.  It’s very nice to meet you.


Office manager:  Mr. Skippy McMillan, I’d like to introduce you to our newest associate, Ms. Suzy Snowflake!

You:  Sweeeet!

  • Don’t lie to people.  Integrity is important in all facets of life.  Trust is easily broken and almost impossible to repair.  Your life at work will be miserable if no one trusts you.
  • Remember that you are not in a locker room.  You may not have a problem with foul language, but some other people really don’t like it.  Watch your language and don’t say inappropriate things to other people.  Even if you don’t like being there, act like a professional.  People probably do NOT find you amusing.  They are waiting for you to leave so they can discuss what a jerk you are.
  • Don’t gossip at work.  You really shouldn’t gossip anywhere, but we all know that it does happen (see previous item).  Getting yourself known as the office gossip is a great way to make sure that no one will want to deal with you.  Resist that urge to talk smack on other people.
  • Mind your own business.  Don’t eavesdrop.  Just don’t.  If you do, you’re a weasel.
  • Save your 2 cents.  There are times that your opinion is needed and even desired.  Other times though, you should really just keep your mouth shut.  If you walk into a room where a conversation is taking place, don’t immediately jump into it if it isn’t appropriate.
  • Don’t boast.  If you want to share some good news, that’s great, but people who boast are not impressive.  Everyone will think you’re a jerk.
  • Table manners are not just for Grandma’s house at Thanksgiving.  If you eat in an area where others are eating, don’t be a pig.  If you don’t have any basic table manners, read this and then come back.
  • Put things back where they were, in the condition you found them.  Need to borrow a stapler?  Fine.  Just bring it back in working order.
  • Don’t jam the copier and then leave.  I think there should be a special little corner in the netherworld for people who do this.  Did you ever see Full Metal Jacket?  You know the part where they held the guy down and hit him with bars of soap wrapped in a pillow case because he was causing everyone so much grief?  Yeah… If you jam it, clear it.
  • Don’t interrupt, ignore people, skip appointments, show up late or otherwise act like a total inconsiderate jackwagon.  Self explanatory.
  • Basic hygiene in the workplace.  Wear deodorant.  Don’t cover yourself in obnoxious amounts of perfume or cologne.  Brush your teeth and buy some mints if you like to eat smelly things.  Please don’t do things like floss your teeth, brush your hair, scratch yourself, apply makeup, or any other “personal” activity where I have to watch you do it.  I was once eating lunch at a table when a woman across from me took off both of her sweaty shoes, placed them on the table and proceeded to remove and then re-insert the Odor Eater insoles.  She actually set the insoles on the table and they left moisture marks about 6 inches from my sandwich.  Truly foul.
  • Don’t take other people’s food.  This is another one that you’d imagine adults wouldn’t actually do.  Surprise.  We had a lunch thief who stole several lunches a few years ago.  A pregnant co-worker had her lunch heisted twice in one week.  She was not a happy camper.  Listen, you’ve got a job, spend some money on peanut butter and jelly.  Don’t steal food (or anything) from other people.
  • Don’t rat people out to the boss.  Obviously if there is something serious going on, you need to let the proper people know, but I’m talking about those special employees who make regular “behind closed doors” visits to the boss to fill them in on all of the things they “overheard”.  I think there is at least one in every workplace.
  • Don’t be a cheap jerk.  If everyone is pitching in for something like a gift (and you intend to sign your name on the card) or something for the office that you are going to use, just pry a few bucks out of your wallet.  Most things you’d pitch in for at work don’t cost that much and they usually benefit everyone.  Here is an example.  Almost everyone where I worked pitched in five to ten bucks to get one of those single cup Keurig coffee makers and some K-Cups.  A few people didn’t, but still feel free to use the machine and even hit up the K-Cups.  If you do things like that, you are being a stinky human being and people will think your a jerk.  Sorry.
  • Pay attention to people.  When someone is talking to you, give them your full attention.  Don’t fiddle with your phone or suddenly turn away and start talking to someone else.
  • Mind your cubicle.  If you work in an office that utilizes cubicles, pretend like each little area is an apartment.  No one wants to hear your music or your phone conversations.  They also don’t want to deal with any distracting smells that might be wafting out of your area.
  • Keep your personal life personal most of the time.  It honestly doesn’t bother me when people start talking to me about their life outside of work most of the time, but I know that there are some people who broadcast every blessed detail to everyone within earshot.  Don’t do that.

In Summary

Really, things would  run so much more smoothly at work if everyone would just follow the idea of treating other people the way that you want to be treated.  That goes for etiquette, common courtesy, and life in general.  What’s so hard about that?  I don’t have an exact formula, but I’d say that if you saw yourself in more than a couple of the items listed above, you may be more annoying than you realize.  Try taking a new approach and see how it affects your popularity in the workplace.  Good luck.


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3 Responses to 24 Simple Workplace Etiquette Tips to Improve Your Life

  1. Rasheida says:

    This blog is one that I must share. It seems that adults forget their manners when they are at work. I am so sick of going inside of the restrooms and finding a paper on the floor and unflushed toilets. I love that youtube video. This was hilarious….

  2. Consuelo Annon says:

    None of these mention common courtesy ,
    Thank you .
    Are you busy? May I have a moment of your time.
    I appreciate your help.

    Expecting others to drop their work because yours is behind schedule
    Finger pointing, physical and otherwise .

  3. Terry Angngad says:

    It shows that nowadays people forget their manners and action when they are at work. It seems that they didn’t learn anything about workplace etiquette. They do not act like a professional in the workplace.
    So, if we want things to run smoothly at work we must follow the idea of treating other people the way that you want to be treated.

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