Times may have changed, but courtesy never goes out of style. In today's world sometimes it's complicated to figure out how to do the right thing. Local etiquette expert Karen Hickman answers your questions or helps solve your dilemmas on Fridays in The News-Sentinel and at news-sentinel.com.
Q. Karen, our workplace gets bogged down with complainers and people who say, “that's not my job,” and it is making everybody unhappy. How can we make this better?
A. It is important to learn the corporate culture in your workplace. Know what the expectations are and observe the style of the people you admire most. Study the employee manual and know the guidelines.
•Be respectful of people at every level in the workplace. Position, money and power are not the hallmarks of a considerate person. It is the way you treat people that sets you apart. It takes a team to make an organization work. The people at the top would not be there without those working under them. There are no small jobs.
•Do your share; refill the paper in the fax machine and copier, make coffee if you have the last cup, bring the treats occasionally etc. Anticipate what may be needed and do more.
•When conflict arises, go to the source and try to work out the problem. Do not be accusatory, and be sure you listen to the other side. And if you are at fault, own your mistake. Control your temper. Angry people are less effective; walk away and cool off.
•Keep work problems at work. Discussing work problems outside of work may be a violation of confidentiality and looks and sounds bad in a public setting. You never know who may be listening. It can also undermine the integrity of the organization, and it is unprofessional.
•Be sure to keep confidences. It is admirable and it is important. If someone shares information that is sensitive or personal, keep it to yourself. Don't become the office gossip.
•Have regular team meetings and ask everyone to participate in resolving an office problem. This can help get people on board and hopefully realize that everyone plays a part in making things going smoothly.