10 Examples of Bad Office Etiquette

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Office etiquette is something that every employee is expected to know and abide by, but nonetheless, is a conversation rarely held between management and staff. Managers assume every employee should already know the do’s and don’ts of the workplace before their first day of work.

Having said that, not being told by your manager about the don’ts of office etiquette is not a reasonable excuse for bad behaviour.

Even though we might have some bad days now and then, there is no way to justify bad manners at work. Bad habits in the workplace will not only make you unpopular, but they can also seriously affect your coworkers and create anger and stress in the workplace.

According to a recent survey by Accountemps, participants were asked about the worst office etiquette habits and 36% stated that using a speakerphone or talking loudly on the phone is by far the worst offence and talking or loitering around a coworker’s office ranked second at 23%.

Despite the rules rarely being discussed openly in the workplace, 98% of survey respondents affirmed that office etiquette does exist.

Here are the worst examples of poor office etiquette so you know what to avoid at your new workplace.

1. Gross Behaviour

One of the most common bad office etiquette habits is eating smelly food at lunch time. You can eat all the tuna or egg mayonnaise sandwiches you want, but please do that at home when you can’t pollute the airspace of your coworkers. Another gross offence is BO or even wearing strong aftershave or perfume. Then you have messy desks, bad breath, hanging sweaty cycling clothes to dry, clipping toenails or not flushing the toilet.

It is very important to remember that gross behaviour can be a part of your personal brand, so no matter how good you might be at your job, you will still be that person who picks their nose when they think no one’s looking.

2. Bad Language

Some workers state that “profanity” is one of the worst workplace manners. Maybe a little swearing at work might be OK, but it is definitely not okay to start swearing in front of others, swearing nonstop or swearing aggressively.

3. Never Buying A Round

If you regularly go for happy hour after work and you keep avoiding paying for a round then you will look like the office skinflint. This is worst for bosses who keep sending the team junior to get coffee but never get anything for them in return. If you want your team to stop hating you, start buying rounds or even offer to buy them a cappuccino to wake them up after a post-lunch slump.

4. Not Giving Credit

We’ve all had meetings when someone suggests an idea that you had and gives you absolutely no credit. They might even explain it clearly as they’ve had a couple of days to think things through. This is a very bad move. If you do this to Jane, Jane will hate you and will start whispering behind your back.

It is one thing not to give credit and another thing to completely steal all the credit. But, if you credit Jane for her idea, she will appreciate you for recognising her idea. You should always be decent, fair and a great team-work player.

5. Boasting About Your Salary

Why would you ever want to brag about your salary when you know someone else earns less than you? Everyone at work will resent you, and you will instantly make enemies. A better idea is to show your earning power by buying coffees for the team.

6. Going to Work Sick

If you constantly keep on going to work sick and not taking days off, you are exposing all your coworkers by coughing and sneezing throughout the day. Just because you didn’t want to take the day off, or are a workaholic who avoids staying at home, doesn’t mean your coworkers are obliged to get all your germs. Be considerate of others and don’t show up to work when you’re ill; it is unfair for everyone.

7. Talking Over People

Do you love the sound of your own voice? Well, maybe it is about time you learned to like the sound of other people’s voices, and what they have to say, too. If you don’t and interrupt them by speaking over them, they will never listen to what you’re saying either.

If your meetings turn into monologues, no one will listen to you and switch off. So, if you actively listen and show interest in others by asking questions, they will be more likely to listen to what you have to say.

8. Poor Email Etiquette

Even though email has been around for more than two decades, some people still don’t understand how to use it. Maybe they send emails with random subjects, cc everyone or never reply back, but good email etiquette shouldn’t be hard. The less you say, the better, and if you want to have long conversations via email, it would be better just to pick up the phone. You need to remember that bad email habits mean bad speaking habits, too.

9. Loud Phone and Personal Calls

You never put your phone on silent, and even though it seems like common sense, a lot of people head into a meeting with their phones on max volume, deliberately. It’s one thing to forget once or twice about it, but if you do it constantly, then it seems like you don’t care if you interrupt or distract others. You should also take any personal calls in private as no-one wants to hear you fighting with your SO every other day.

10. Non-Stop Complaining

If every other sentence or phrase that comes out of your mouth in the workplace is a complaint or swear word then you might need to stop this bad habit now. By complaining every day to a coworker - even with little “innocent” remark - it can rocket to a downward spiral with you only focusing on the negative things about your job and organisation.

You might feel a little relieved when consoling with others. However, this can easily become very toxic and ruin your reputation. Not to mention that it can make you lose focus on some aspects of your work or great people in your workplace.

If you want to do well in your job and have everyone consider you a hard-working professional, you need to avoid all the above examples of terrible office etiquette. All workplaces have some rules and policies that all employees must follow and there are no excuses for bad behaviour.

Can you think of any other bad habits at work that drive you mad? Share them below…

This article was originally published in December 2013.