Rules of Office Etiquette for New Grads
You did ita��you graduated, secured your first job and are heading into the next chapter of your life. As you embark into the working world, you probably feel nervous and excited about your first day at work. Ita��s normal to feel that waya��but as you ease into your new routine, you might find that some of the things you did while a student, or at your part-time job or internship, arena��t exactly welcomed in your brand new, shiny office.
Is it okay to wear jeans to work? Is your a�?Work Modea�? Spotify playlist appropriate for the office? Is chewing gum at work a cool or rude thing to do?
If youa��re worried about how to behave at work as the new employee, we spoke with Business etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm BeachA�Jacqueline WhitmoreA�to determine the top five office rules every new graduate needs to know.
1. Music is okay, if ita��s not distracting
Many people love to listen to music while they work. For some, it can make them more creative or help them focus; but for others, music can be distracting or deter them from productivity.
a�?If youa��re in a main space where everyone works, I would say no. But if youa��re in a private office, I would say yes,a�? explains Jacqueline. a�?If you can wear headphones without it making you less productive you can do so, but it also depends on your position and level of focus. If your job is to be aware of whata��s going on around you, such as an office manager or assistant position, then you shouldna��t be listening to music at work.a�?
2. Avoid personal, political and religious conversations
Want to know what you shouldna��t talk about at work with your co-workers? Gossip about co-workers, sex, politics and money are the four topics Jacqueline says you absolutely should avoid discussing at work.
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a�?If youa��re talking about the budget for your department, thata��s different,a�? she says. a�?But if youa��re asking questions about how much someonea��s car cost or what they bought over the weekend, thata��s not appropriate.a�?
3. If youa��re going to snack, do so quietly
Chewing gum is not inappropriate at worka��unless youa��re doing it loudly, with your mouth open and are popping bubbles in your co-workersa�� faces. If youa��re quietly chewing a piece of gum after lunch or like a minty-fresh pick up in the afternoon, youa��re not going to get fired for doing so. But, ita��s the loud chewing (or sticking of gum under the desk at work) thata��s going to get you called into the principala��er, bossesa��office.
a�?The break room is for eating, so ita��s having snacks at your desk that is taboo,a�? notes Jacqueline. a�?Avoid anything that is too crunchy and noisy or has a potent smell to it. Any kind of messy eating at your desk is just not a good image. However, everyone does eat at their desk, so I would just make sure the food isna��t over pungent and be quiet. And of coursea��dona��t take calls with food in your mouth.a�?
4. Two drinks max at work-related social events
Every now and then, your office might throw a party or host a a�?happy houra�? at the end of the day. While it can be fun to relax with your co-workers over a beer in the office, you want to make sure you avoid drinking too much, especially as a new member of the team.
While Jacqueline notes it can depend on your tolerance level, she says two drinks is the maximum you want to have at a work function to avoid getting intoxicated or impaired in front of your co-workers.
5. Be respectful and kind
Whata��s the number one rule for behaving at work? a�?Treat others the way you want to be treated,a�? says Jacqueline.
Ita��s something your parents might have told you over and over again as a kid, but it still holds true because ita��s the best way to be a decent person, especially inside an office. If you wouldna��t want someone yelling at you in front of your co-workers, dona��t do the same to them. If you wouldna��t want people to beA�gossipingabout your divorce or weight gain, dona��t talk that way about others.
At the end of the day, you have come back and face your co-workers again tomorrowa��so treat them with respect, be kind and before you make rude comments or jokes at the expense of a co-worker, think about how it would make you feel.