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WORKPLACE / DEC. 24, 2013
version 6, draft 6

Etiquette Advice So You Don't Mess Up Your New Job!

Although most office workers like to think it, we are not all perfectly polite people. It may be considered mandatory in most offices to be respectful of your fellow employees, however, many of us fall short of this goal. In fact sometimes the very people who behave like the Gestapo in the way that they enforce so called office etiquette, do not follow their own rules. But whether they follow their own advice doesn’t matter. If you follow some of these rules you may keep your new job. For a little longer at least!

Make first impressions count

The first time you meet your new co-workers it is probably not the best idea to say ‘what up?!’ and try and give them a ‘fist bump’. They might think your either weird, mad, stupid or in the worst case maybe even a bit racist. Go for a strong handshake but remember not to cut off the blood supply to their hand. Be firm but not aggressive. 

Office attire

While more and more companies are adopting either a smart casual policy or even a casual dress policy you still have to clarify what the company’s dress code is before you start work. While it would be awesome if we could all wear our Pajamas into the office (I mean it would quite literally be rolling out of bed and into work!), it is unlikely to happen for most people. Facebook workers might get there at some point but even that might be pushing it a bit far. The most likely situation you are going to find yourself in is a smart casual or full suit environment, particularly in the UK. However, this changes with each industry. If you’re in the Tech industry you might be get to wear your Pajamas after all!


Simple phrases such as ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ should always be used where necessary. The most important point here I feel though is to avoid punching your boss at any point and avoid any form of violence towards other coworkers. While you might get some street cred if you have some cool Jackie Chan moves, people will also be afraid of you, which is only good if you are the boss. Also you will probably be fired and sued. This, in case you weren’t aware, is not very healthy for your wallet.

Depending on where you are working, swearing in the workplace can be heavily frowned upon. Certainly try not to swear in front of the CEO or tell your boss to go F*** himself in a fit of rage. Instead, see how other people in the office are communicating and copy them. In Italy for example half of what they say is swearing, you just can’t tell unless you speak Italian!


Try not to steal your co-workers lunch from the kitchen fridge, this is probably going to annoy them a lot especially before they get to know you. If you are a kleptomaniac and did it intentionally then there is little that I can say but I thought it best to warn you not to take peoples lunch or personal items. If you don’t already know this though, then the question must be asked how exactly you got the job...

Sexual Comments

Again, pretty obvious, if you make sexual advances towards another member of staff before you get to know them you have a potential law suit on your hands. Just remember there is no such thing as 'friendly groping'!

As you can see basic etiquette for a new employee are pretty self-explanatory in many ways. The Gestapo like rules which many associate with office etiquette are not necessary. I mean if you don’t know not to punch your boss or steal your co-workers lunch then you are probably a hopeless case anyway. But I thought I would try to help you, after all everyone deserves a chance!


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