WORKPLACE / SEP. 28, 2015
version 14, draft 14

The 8 Office Commandments of the Ideal Co-Worker

And I say unto you, do not breaketh the commandments of common sense and decency, for it is a path to wickedness, and unpopularity will cling to you for all of your days.

Or something.

We all know there are things we’re not supposed to do. Some are laws (no parking between 11pm and 6am), some are unwritten (don’t borrow money from friends), some are office rules (no personal calls during the day), and some are religious tenets (thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife).

But you know what? Most of us do them anyway, at least sometimes. I’ve parked in a no parking zone. I’ve borrowed money from my friends. I’ve made the odd phone call at work that had nothing to do with my job. And my neighbor’s wife? No comment.

We spend about 40 hours each week in the office (provided, of course, you work in an office). That’s a lot of time. More than you spend around your family from Monday to Friday - the kids are at school (which has its own set of rules), and your partner is at his or her job. Our colleagues are our “work week family”, and as such, they’re going to piss you off. It’s inevitable.

They will annoy you. Anger you. Frustrate you. Make you want to smack some sense into them. Irritate you. No matter how much you like them - and hopefully you do - they will commit heinous sins against you and each other.

Heinous...or hilarious, depending on the distance from you personally. What’s heinous in your cubicle becomes hilarious when hearing about it later in the breakroom from someone else.

In the workplace, there are explicit rules, unwritten ones, and yes, even some “commandments” that result in sin when broken.  

See Also: Top 10 Funniest Workplace Accidents

1. Thou Shalt Be Minty Fresh

Bad breath happens. It’s not contagious, and it’s not something to be ashamed of. You can limit your transgressions by brushing your teeth, popping the occasional mint, and avoiding particularly pungent foods like garlic and tuna.

The only sin is in letting it persist. A colleague with bad breath is like a super villain: escape is impossible. They show up at your desk and insist on speaking to you - often too closely - while using words with a lot of forceful expulsions of air (or maybe it just seems that way). Your eyes water. Your gag reflex may even kick in. You try and inconspicuously hold your breath while nodding your head in agreement.

Don’t be Tuna Tim or Tina. Don’t be Bad Breath Betty or Bart.  

And the Lord sayeth unto you, “A tic tac in the mouth is better than a dollar in your pocket.”

2. Thou Shalt Not Reek

Body Odor or B.O. We all have it, but some of us manage it a bit better than others. It can be an embarrassing situation when you stink to high heaven but don’t know it. We can never really smell ourselves, though. Why is that, Science?

Your co-workers can sense you coming from a mile away when B.O. rears it’s ugly head. An acrid aroma is not the best way to leave a lasting impression. It’s unpleasant when you’re around, you linger for a while after you leave, but hilarious to everyone else when you’re not actually in the room or downwind.

Only a very good, close friend will feel comfortable enough to say something to you. And when they do, heed their advice and get thee to a shower. Stat!

And the Lord sayeth unto you, “The journey of a thousand miles ends with soap and deodorant.”

3. Thou Shalt Eat Only What Thou Broughtest

Hard to believe, but even in professional offices full of highly educated and mature adults, lunches go missing at an alarming rate. It’s an epidemic.

You do everything to prevent it - your name on the bag, a sticky note on the container, a public plea, or thinly veiled threats. And yet, you leftover couscous still disappears sometime between 8am and 11:30. It’s like magic.

You could set up a hidden camera. You could disguise your sandwich with an anti-theft lunch bag. You could cultivate a reputation as a psychopath that will pulverize anyone that touches your stuff (editor’s note - not recommended). But it’s still going to happen. The hilarious solution is to leave something disgusting that looks delicious. Lace your lunch with two cups of cayenne pepper, and then wait to see who tears out of the break room, screaming en route to the washroom. Culprit identified.

And the Lord sayeth unto you, “Let those that are weak and hungry eat, but steal my leftover pizza, and we’re going to have issues. Seriously.”

4. Thou Shalt Stay Behind the Yellow Line

Seinfeld called them “close talkers.” You know the type...someone who insists on getting way too close during a conversation, all up in your business. They’re not trying to be rude, or pick your pocket. They just have no concept of personal space.

It might be cultural (the idea of personal space doesn’t exist everywhere), it might be upbringing, or it might be cluelessness. It’s amusing and a funny quirk...unless the individual also commits the sin of not staying minty fresh. That’s a double-whammy. You could try painting a yellow line around your desk, with clear instructions that all visitors must stay behind said yellow line like at customs and immigration. You never know it might work.

And the Lord sayeth unto you, “Step back, bro.” 

5. Thou Shalt Not Talk Smack

Gossip and the office go together like sardines and apple sauce. No? Is that just me? Regardless, an office without gossip is a rare entity, like a movie without Samuel L. Jackson. It just doesn’t happen that often.

The office gossip loves to talk behind everyone’s back, spreading rumours and half-truths. They generally preface every conversation with “I don’t like to gossip, but did you hear…” before passing along the latest tidbit about Gary in sales or Gertrude in HR. They’re good for a laugh, but no one really believes anything that comes out of their mouth.

And the Lord sayeth unto you, “In the beginning there was nothing, and I hear that’s because he lost everything in the divorce after cheating with his secretary...but you didn’t hear that from me.”

6. Thou Shalt Not Dress Like a Deadhead

Or a hippie. Or a gangsta rapper. Or a go-go dancer. Or any other outfit that will absolutely ruin casual Friday for the entire office. If you’re lucky and have a casual Friday policy at your workplace, you know that it’s contingent on everyone using a little common sense.

Unfortunately, that’s a quality that some of us lack. Business casual does not include tie-dyed t-shirts, bell bottom jeans, flat-brim hats, shirts with charming slogans like “What are you lookin’ at, mothafu**a?” on them, or thigh-high boots. It just doesn’t. Everyone has at least one person at the office whose outfits typically elicit a “what was he thinking?!” from the rest of the staff. Your co-workers may giggle and snicker at your Taylor Swift t-shirt, but that’s the least of your concerns.

Dress that way even once, and you run the risk of incurring the wrath of everyone when your manager cancels casual Friday and cites YOU as the reason why.

And the Lord sayeth unto you, “Wear not a concert shirt, ripped jeans, or blouse cut down to your belly button. Remember casual Friday, to keep it professional but relaxed, and not look like an idiot.”

7. Thou Shalt Not Have a Catchphrase

Ever. Never. Not ever. The office does not need a catchphrase guy or gal. Remember Rob Schneider’s character from SNL, the Richmeister? Or how about Michael Scott from The Office and his “That’s what she said”? There’s no shortage. Yes, it’s funny the first few times (if at all). But it loses its comedic street cred after hearing it for the 287th time. Your co-workers might laugh...but they’re laughing at you, not with you.

No one needs to hear you yell out “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do” every time someone makes a mistake, or “I’m walking here, I’m walking” whenever someone bumps into you in the hallway.

And the Lord sayeth unto you, “Catchphrases are the lowest form of comedy, and a juvenile way to try and stand out. What? No joke here. I just really hate catchphrases.”

8. Thou Shalt Shun Miley Cyrus

Your office may allow some quiet music at your desk, or in your office. But music can be a tricky minefield to navigate. Everyone is entitled - and should - listen to whatever makes them happy. But do you really want everyone to know that you think Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb” is the most inspirational song of our generation? Or that Taylor Swift (Tay-Tay to you) is the 21st century equivalent of The Beatles? Or that the Backstreet Boys became “too commercial” in their later albums (you prefer their early work)?

Bad taste in music (and yes, that is 100% subjective) is everywhere, and if your colleagues think you have some questionable likes, you’ll never live it down. Play one of their songs ONE time, and you’ll forever get Jonas Brother calendars at Christmas.

And the Lord sayeth unto you, “Be safe. Wear headphones.”

See Also: Top 8 Craziest Office Rules Ever Applied

Avoid the path of wickedness. Stay in the light, and follow these, the workplace commandments. Sin will try and catch you at every turn, my friend. Repent! Repent! For the end is nigh...although the end isn’t really nigh. Your co-workers will just tease you. But that’s bad, too. They may be Tongue-in-cheek, but these sins can and should be avoided, so you don’t become the office punchline.

How many of these workplace commandments have you broken?What other commandments do you think we should include?

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