The workplace is not a dinner party. Even so, a few rules of civilized behavior can help make the office or warehouse a more pleasant place to spend our days. On The Daily Circuit, two experts on workplace etiquette offered some useful norms and strategies:
• If your boss is sending you text messages in the middle of the night, don't answer. At the office the next day, say, "Oh, I see you texted me last night." If your supervisor expresses displeasure at your failure to reply immediately, say, "Oh, I'm sorry, am I expected to be on call? And when?"
• If your boss complains about your pregnancy and makes rude inquiries about your menstrual cycle, try redirecting the conversation to how others can fill in for you during your maternity leave. Adopt a tone of cold, professional formality, rather than the tone you're probably feeling.
• If you are a new manager, and your employees do not immediately accept your authority, try not to say, "I'm the boss, Applesauce, you have to do what I tell you." Rather, ask your employees for their advice and counsel, showing that you respect their experience and knowledge.
• If a transgender employee requests access to the ladies' restroom, treat her as belonging to the gender to which she aspires. Do not suggest that she is really just a guy trying to get a peek inside the women's room.
• If you are a new employee, dress conservatively until you are invited to be more casual, as though you were still sitting for a job interview. If you are a boss and wish to enforce a dress code, communicate clearly what that code is. Whatever the workplace standard, colleagues should dress in a way that shows seriousness of purpose for the work at hand.
• If you are using company equipment, draw a clear line between business uses and personal uses. Remember never to post anything on social media that you would not want to see on a public bulletin board.
• If a colleague is loudly conducting personal business on the telephone, go to the boss and protest that the colleague is interfering with your ability to get work done.
• If you need to cut your fingernails, retire to the restroom. In fact, any act of personal hygiene that requires more than a second or two should really be conducted in private. The same goes for applying makeup: Anything more than a quick swipe of lipstick is inappropriate at your cubicle.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MANNERS IN THE WORKPLACE:
• The messy world of work etiquette
One of the biggest etiquette issues today is "the failure of people to recognize the difference between public and private communications," said Peter Post, co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" (William Morrow) and a great-grandson of the etiquette maven Emily Post. (New York Times News Service)
• Transgender workers and 'gender-appropriate bathrooms'
Which bathroom should a transgender employee use? (Washington Post)
• How an overweight worker can deal with a workplace bully
My problem is a fitness nut co-worker (same managerial level) who has begun posting signs around the office about how ugly fat people are and how fit people are "more useful" than overweight people, etc. He makes nasty comments about my weight in front of my people and uses any reason to call me incompetent. (Washington Post)