Mind your manners if you are eating at desk while at work Lunching with co-workers helps you get to know people.

Q: When should you feel obligated to share food at work? I was taught you should never eat in front of others unless you share, but that doesn’t seem like a reasonable rule with many people bringing in their own lunch and eating at their desks these days.

A: Many people are bringing in their own snacks and lunch to eat in the office lunch room or at their desk. In fact, recent studies have shown that more than 60 percent of people eat at their desks at least once a week.

So the idea that you can’t eat in front of people without sharing is a difficult rule to follow these days. But good manners regarding how you eat, what you eat and where you eat at work should still be considered:

* If at all possible, don’t eat at your desk. If you do eat at your desk, avoid messy food that will get all down the front of your clothes and all over your desk and computer.

* Be attentive to how many co-workers eat at their desks. If you’re the only one doing that, you may be annoying those in the cube next to you.

* Avoid food that will smell up the office and the break room and linger long after you’ve eaten the last bite. That includes microwaving smelly foods.

* Don’t talk on the phone while eating.

* Do clean up your work space and dispose of food containers, wrappers, etc., as soon as you have finished.

* Don’t eat in front of clients, in the halls while walking or in meetings unless it is a lunch meeting.

* Do your share to keep the lunch room tidy. Pick up after yourself, and remove your leftovers daily from the office fridge.

* Don’t take food from the office fridge that doesn’t belong to you.

* Do eat with co-workers regularly. It can be a good time to get to know people and to develop good work and personal relationships.

* If people bring in treats for everyone, don’t take more than your share. And do contribute by bringing in your own favorites to share.

* Do remember your table manners. No one likes to eat with unmannerly people.

Getting up and away from your desk is beneficial and can help reset your brain to be more productive. Consider leaving the office or taking a walk outside if time and weather permit. A change of pace and exercise are good. <br>

<i> Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. </i>