From the little I have been able to piece together, workplace etiquette and manners are held as a priori – especially when it comes to analyzing situations with our stereotypical glasses. There is an assumption in our education and to a greater extent our public lives that we have an innate understanding of what is proper and what is not proper. There are few for-credit classes I am aware providing students with instructions regarding proper guidelines for how to act on the job.
Where post-secondary education offers etiquette instruction, it is often in the context of cultural awareness and formal business dining. When it comes to practicing workplace etiquette, there are moments when impassioned, unthoughtful statements are made and actions are taken. As is the case with more things than not, our stereotypes, especially along gender normative and racial lines encourage quick analysis, even if the analysis does not reach back to the statement maker or action taker.
Attempting to unpack the above paragraph, I question, who is responsible for informing others of proper etiquette in the workplace? If knowledge of workplace manners is not a priori, who or what then should be at the forefront of providing a base of working “dos and don’ts,” for example parents, schools or experiences?
I am the type person and therefore employee that stays out of as much as I can. This inaction is not all bad in the context of workplace etiquette as it reduced the opportunities for me to be impassioned and unthoughtful. I will listen to office gossip, but often I will squirm uncomfortably just as I do are when I meet someone with poor manners or poor grammar. If the cause of the squirm is not intrinsic, what I know about etiquette and manners must largely stem from the stories of my parents and older siblings as well as observing their actions.
School peers and coworkers also inform the right and more importantly wrong statements to make and actions to take. Noting I limit acquaintance experiences, I have had no audio/visual feedback to suggest I do not practice acceptable etiquette in the workplace, therefore I will conclude my actions are culturally acceptable in my setting. Maybe I only lack feedback because the analysis – joking about a situation – never reaches my ears or eyes.
If it is held that parents and legal guardians, teachers and professors, superiors and older siblings as well as peers and coworkers provide us with a foundation of how to act properly, what else can be encouraged to increase the occurrence of proper workplace manners? Considering work related moments when the statements and actions of those around me induced my inner squirm, the most embarrassing (and common) form of poor workplace behavior stems from adding emotional charge to a statement or action. On the opposing end of the spectrum is apathy, of which I have been adjacent to an extreme case recently. Emotionally charged action should take note of the apathetic situations and be reminded this is only one moment of one a job in a lifelong career.
If you surmise your work is being called into question, do not take it personally and emotionally charge the moment. Take a step back and make a plan to respond thoughtfully. In other words, take some time and maybe a walk before responding. For apathetic situations, remember the same things: this is a moment of one job in a lifelong career. If you take time to care about the work you are doing, your job will be easier and your career will have a higher probability of being stable. Recall any one of multiple cliché statement to remember this advice such as one can lose the battle but win the war (take a step back, it is a long career); to finish first, first one must finish (care about the work you are doing) etc.